Who's afraid of a howling wolf?
This is for the 356,000 young Korean men who will receive military draft notification this year and their parents.
I was an assistant drill sergeant at a boot camp during the peak of the Korean War. Upon finishing three months of recruit training, I was assigned to one of the most honorable positions in the service; train the next trainees.
The fresh rookies were assigned to their new posts, mostly combat units as the front lines were in urgent need of augmentation. All of a sudden it was my turn to shout and be angry and hit the heavy newcomers with a rubber hose and, God forgive, make them half dead. Half dead at the training camp so they won’t be fully dead on the battlefield. My duty was to teach the new recruits to kill the enemy first.
The instructors are selected from highly-motivated, well-disciplined soldiers. They are symbols of honor and excellence in military deportment and their job is one of the most important because the quality of the training the recruits undergo immediately affects the number of war casualties.
My farewell words for the departing new soldiers at the commencement ceremony were; ``I know you guys hated me. I don’t blame you. But I want you to remember that I have been praying all along for your safe return. I trained you to kill the enemy first and you are ready to do so… And please look for me on your furlough; I’ll buy you a drink. Good luck and God bless you.”
A storm of applause arose; many of the rookies were in tears. I knew some of them, God knows how many, wouldn’t come home. By the way, I still have to buy a drink when I happen to meet those veterans now in their early 80s in the street. The drink always tastes sweet.
Nearly 80 percent of South Korean citizens are willing to join the military in the event of war against the North, a survey by the Ministry of Patriots and Veteran Affairs showed. By age, those in their 50s at 89 percent vowed to join the service voluntarily; the 30s marked 63 percent and those in their 20s, 61 percent.
I wonder why they didn’t survey those in their 70s and 80s; we would have given willing votes of 95 and 98 percent respectively. And I’m ready to serve as a drill sergeant again, well, for those in their 70s and 80s. We are not afraid of bluffing balks of undernourished wolves. We are all expert in killing the enemy first, and most of all we are not afraid to die. That’s true. The M1 rifle would feel good to hold again.
I recently had a chance to see how recruits were being trained at this sensitive time. I was very happy to see that, quite contrary to civilian’s misleading concepts, the boys are well disciplined and maintain the high morale and values they have sworn to uphold.
They don’t use a rubber hose or anything like that, of course, yet the soldiers are well armed with modern military equipment and grand tactics. The Air Force is asking for commercial airliners to share the cost of pilot training. The Army and Navy too should ask the same from society. It would never be too much to say that the success of Korea was built on veterans’ sound mind and militaristic fortitude.
Believe in your military drill instructors. They know how to raise your somewhat spoiled boys to be fine gentlemen of chivalry. The military will send your sons back to you physically, spiritually matured with intrepid courage and a patriotic soul.
And that’s all free of charge.
The writer is a retired architect-specifications writer, who shuttles back and forth between Seoul and New Jersey. His email address is email@example.com.