The Korean Police Action caused the 936th Field Artillery Battalion, Arkansas National Guard, to join the meat-grinder of war. Led by Captain Douglas E. Morrow, my hero, a bunch of raw Arkansas kids became known as the "shootin'est non-salutin'est group of misfits in Korea. Left to our own devices, we would have been butchered by the armies of the North Koreans and Chinese, squabbling amongst ourselves over our small town rivalries and the lingering memories of high school insults while the enemy roared in. Doug Morrow, however, a WW II veteran, trained us to fight and taught us how to be men. The author exchanged 425 letters with his future wife, and the story of that burgeoning relationship captures what motivated the men to fight bravely when hell rained down. The only thing we had to keep ourselves going was the promise that some day we would have peaceful lives with the women we loved, that some day we would sink into the tranquility of Arkansas and dream of something other than the carnage of shrapnel. We fiercely fought for that dream even after an explosion robbed Doug Morrow of his own, because he had taught us to cherish what we had left behind in Benton County, and because he taught us that warriors do not run, even when it feels that God and country have abandoned them. I have finished My Benton County Hero and I thank you for writing it. It is an excellent running history of our miserable time in Korea. I think it is accurate. There were lots of events that I either didn't remember or never knew about. And I am sure that would be true of every man in A Battery from Bentonville, Arkansas, who will read the book. We all have our own experiences, and no one knows every thing that happened to any one else over there, but you have sure as hell captured a lot of my memories and experience. I know that it took a lot of research and just plain dam hard work to set it to paper. I don't have the patience for that. You have told your story and you have done a good job of it. It must be very therapeutic for you. Not many people attempt it, or want to. Or even have a story. You are Jim Rakes and you did as you pleased. The only way any one ever has freedom is to self impose strict discipline on themselves. Thanks for the work. All of A Battery who read it will be grateful to you, as I am. Thank you for the hard work you did for me while we were over in Korea. Never for a minute did I have to be concerned about you running your section in a professional military manner. You were a good soldier. I know Master Sergeant material when I see it. You were young, eager, smart, and had a go for it attitude. That is why you were picked for the job of Master Sergeant. I really wasn't looking out for you as much as I was for my self and the Outfit. You justified my judgment. I have always known that I made a good decision when I chose you for the jobs that I needed you to perform. You served our country, the Outfit, and me in an outstanding manner. From an old Master Sergeant who knew. BDH
About the Author:
Jim Rakes joined the National Guard at age fifteen (1947) for extra income to support his dating activities. The dating came to a screeching halt when the Korean Police Action caused him to be called to active duty in August 1950, shortly after high school graduation, and landed him in the fighting with his unit that saw 300 days of combat without a day in reserve. He was promoted to Master Sergeant, Chief of Detail Section, "A" Battery, 936th Field Artillery Battalion, and Arkansas National Guard, two months following his nineteenth birthday. He might have been the youngest Master Sergeant in Korea, if not the entire army. Jim's bonus for service to his country was a college education paid for by the G I Bill of Rights, otherwise, out of the question. And, he was paid $54 per month foxhole bonus for ten months or $540. He has been a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma for thirty-four years. Plastic product development was his game. He engineered the making of the first plastic pickup truck bed liner, canoe, kid's playhouse, and nurtured dozens of other products to commercialization. Firsts are nothing new to him. In retirement, he decided to keep thinking young (like he was during the war) and engage in something he hadn't done before. Thus, he is the author of My Benton County Hero.
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