Korean War Memoir

By: Jeff Shin

William E. Anderson

„William E. Anderson was born on December 17th, 1932 in Woodland, Illinois. He graduated in 1950, but his parents had to pick up his diploma because William Anderson was in the midst combat in Korea. He served in the Korean War from August 29, 1950 to November 30, 1951. During his time, he served in battles in Pusan Perimeter, Kumch’on, Pyongyang, and Chongju. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. After the war, he served 3 years in the Army Reserves and 6 years in the Coast Guard Reserves.

The Korean War

„One of the first major battles during the Cold War. This war is known as, “The Forgotten War,” to many American perspective. The war started on June 25, 1950 when the North Koreans came across the 38th parallel. The United Nations supported the southern part (Republic) while the Soviet Union and later, China supported the northern part (Communism). North Korea pushed back the South Korean and the United Nations all the way to the Pusan Perimeter. Then, United Nations counter-attacked which they attacked all the way to the Yalu River. China joined with North Korea, pushing them back to the 38th parallel. Finally on July 27, 1953, the two sides signed the armistice agreement to end the war in Korea.

Summary of the memoir

„William E. Anderson enlisted to the Air Force, but instead he was enlisted to the Army. He had only a few amount of time of training when the United Nations needed more ground troops. Without telling his parents, he went to Korea. His troops fought in many battles, and he experienced many things during the Korean War. All of his memories still comes from the Korean War, and many other stories of himself during the Korean War.

Significant Quotes

1) "After coming under the railroad overpass, we had to make the turn, and right there I saw this little girl. She was dirty, and she was crying her eyes out. She was standing over her mother, who had apparently been killed by artillery. I can still picture this—color of clothing and all. We were on the march and I couldn’t stop for anything, so I watched this little girl as we passed by. I looked back to see if anyone had stopped for her, but no one did. We were still attacking to the north, so no one could stop and try to comfort this child. I have had this sight haunt my mind ever since. I can still hear her crying."

William E. Anderson was marching up North when he saw this girl crying for her mother. That scene and time will still be with him, for he will never forget it. This quote tells us how brutal, terrifying, and sad the Korean War was.

2)"We were relieved on the line in shifts to eat Christmas dinner. Our kitchen was set up on the backside of the ridge we were on, so we were able to have hot chow during this time. Before I got my turn, the enemy started shelling our kitchen and destroyed a chance of having turkey and all of its trimmings."

China finally joined forces with North Korea. America were retreating, and William E. Anderson remembers that it was New Years Day. But he never got to celebrate due to the massive Chinese forces, which they never stopped fighting. He had to fight for his life to stay alive...

Writers Purpose

„William E. Anderson purpose of writing his memoir was to persuade the readers of the hardness he has been through in the Korean War. Also to let the readers know how terrifying, his experiences, and the memories he will never forget from the Korean War. He learned many new things, and to let everyone know that fighting in a war can change who you are.

Major Themes

William E. Anderson tells us an important theme from his memoir. The Korean war did not only changed him, but he finally realized that wars were horrible. In the beginning, he thought wars were meant to be glorious and to gain fame. But now, he keeps telling himself that wars were not meant to be there, but it is. It was also his first time that he didn't care whether he died or not. In one of his quote he says, "Wars are not glorious or one another. [Wars] It was not to be made, but mankind denied it."


1) White dove: William E. Anderson mentions when he is injured in the battle and just wants to be in peace. He doesn't care about living or dying, but wants to get out of the horrifying Korean War.

2) Cigarettes: After the battle, William E. Anderson sometimes smoked some cigarettes to calm himself down. It allow him to think properly, clear off the frightening war, and as if found peace.

3) #71: This symbol is very unique. It never happened to William E. Anderson before, but he admired that number. During the war, the North Korean soldiers were on the urge of defeating the South. To do that, they had to get pass a middle school where 71 Korean student soldiers (volunteered) were there. For 11 hours, the 71 Korean student soldiers held the thousands of North Korean soldiers. Even though there were defeated, it was a turning point for the South, because it gave them courage and hope to fight the North Korean without fear. Thats how William E. Anderson felt, too.

Personal Reaction

After reading the memoir, it was very frightening. Back then death was common or a common thing, while today its impossible to think of death. All of the experiences William E. Anderson had gone through is sad and depressing. But the memoir at times was interesting. All the battle he fought was dramatic, and giving us an idea what it felt like to be in the Korean War.

Personal Recomendation

I would recomend this memoir to anyone who loves hearing about a soldier's daily life in any particular war. Also to high school students, for they could actually understand what it means between life or death situation. But I would not recomend to people who is very frighten about war and some violent in it.

Letter to the Author

Dear William E. Anderson,

Hello. My grandfather also fought in the Korean War. He was only a high school student back then. He keeps telling me that back then, living or dying didn't matter back then. When reading your memoir, your perspective and experiences are similar to my grandfather. I also want to say that what you did in the Korean War, I want to thank you for fighting for our country. Without you or the people who fought in the Korean War, we might not even be here or having the life I have today. I would really would glad to meet you and ask you a lot of questions about your opinions toward the Korean War.

Thank you.

Best wishes,

Jeff Shin

"I admire the number 71, from that point on..."-William E. Anderson

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