I was once arrested for eating a peach. Do I have your attention? It was spring in Korea 1952. It was the time of the Korean War and I was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Taegu with the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG), Eighth Army. The natives who had survived the war thus far were struggling to keep body and soul together. The sun was shining but the combination of dust and the smell of the honey buckets (collectors of human excrement used as fertilizer) made it difficult to breathe.
My First Sergeant and I were walking down the street when I spied a peach. You must know that I grew up in peach country. That peach was as close as I could get to home at the moment. I paid the equivalent of $3.00 for it and had just bitten into it when I heard tires screeching and someone yell, “Sergeant, throw down that peach!” It was an MP patrolling the area in a jeep. I had an early idea of what this was about but I kept eating while Sergeant Wright confronted the MP. Because of the native practice of using the honey buckets for fertilizer, the Eighth Army Medics had placed all indigenous food off limits. KMAG medics made a distinction. They ruled that only food grown on or below the ground was contaminated. The First Sergeant's attempt to explain that made no difference to the MP but while they debated the issue, I finished the peach. The MP was angry enough about the encounter that he cited me with a Delinquency Report (DR).
A little humor from my stint in “The Land of the Morning Calm.” A break, as slight as it was, from the deadly seriousness of senseless war. There are other stories of a far different nature, many tragic. And there is,of course, the story of Kang Koo Ri, a life that defies despair and models hope. I remember them all. Oh yes, the Delinquency Report came to the First Sergeant's office. He tore it up. I kept my stripes.