Ready to Fire

Richard B. Holmsten

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Ready to Fire is about the life of Richard Holmsten and his experiences in Korea. He is torn from his family just eight days after he is married, trains in Seattle, then is sent off to Korea. He operates as a Horizontal Control Officer in an artillery outfit and tells the cannons how to adjust left and right. After being pushed deep into the south, the United Nations were able to push the North to the 38th parallel and sign a cease fire treaty, ending the fighting, and sending Richard to his wife.


The author's purpose is to inform the reader in an entertaining way about the experiences Mr. Holmsten had in the Korean war. In the book Richard writes, "as she was about to leave she requested the use of a latrine. Being the closest to her, I pointed to an officer's tent. She thought it was the latrine"(112). This shows how the book is entertaining while still being informational.

Three Concepts


One concept i learned was war is extremely ugly. People die, get beat up, and families are torn in war. Richard witnessed South Vietnamese soldiers executing traitors and also an officer beating a man cutting his hair who tried to steal money from him.


Soldiers give up so much of their lives to protect freedom. They give up their time, comfort, and lives. Richard was only married eight days before being taken off to war.


People only hear what they want to. In this book, reporters come to their camp but they would only write down and report the things soldiers said that were patriotic and heroic.
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Section of Greatest Impression

In this book, the greatest impact on me was the cruelty of war. Specifically, when the South Koreans were executing their men and prisoners for being traitors. The book reads, "Two other men broke away, started running back toward the camp. They were halfway to the tents when the third row of men were shot, a crisp volley, POP, POP, POP. I was so close I saw the blood spurt from their bodies, saw them spin and tumble into the trench, some still moving, twitching, and arm in the air, fingers opening, closing. Immediately another group began covering them with dirt. I saw some of them twitching. They weren't even dead. Yet they were being covered up"(52). This makes me realize how scary it is to live in some countries and how lucky I am.


I give this book a 3 out of 5 because it was sometimes hard to follow because of dry spots or bad grammar, however, the book was still interesting. I think anyone interested in the Korean war would like this book.

Passages to Share

First Passage

"Immediately after that incident, when my temperament was at an explosive pitch, one of the men approached me carrying a 68-pound tub of butter. He hefted it in his arms and asked what he was supposed to do with it. I told him I didn't know; that for all i knew they kept it in the oven. It wasn't an order or a command, just a dumb statement. But like every soldier, he did as he was told, and shoved the butter into the oven. What followed just about got me a court martial. The butter melted. It was all over the oven, on the deck, everywhere, all 68 pounds of it"(31-32)

Second Passage

It was just before Christmas that Earl came to us and said in all seriousness that he had to go home. His girlfriend was going to have a baby. We looked at one another and tried to hold back our laughter. Finally someone reminded Earl that he'd been in Japa for two years, that is was impossible for his girlfriend to be pregnant. But Earl insisted that she was. She had told him in a letter. I took Earl by the shoulder and pulled him closer, told him that it was not his baby, that someone else was the father. He insisted. She had told him he was the father. I asked Earl if he knew about sex. He said he did, that they had laid together before he left to come overseas. The other boys tried their best to hold back their laughter. I told him it took nine months to make a baby. If it was his, it would be a year old now. I explained that it was impossible for him to be its father. He thought for a while, then shook his head, left the tent in a state of confusion. The laughter followed him outside. Earl continued to get advice from his commanding officer and also from the chaplain. In the end, Earl understood. He never did go home"(61-62)


I choose these passages because they are funny and they show who my grandpa is. He is blunt and funny. Things that are questionable he calls good clean fun.
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Connection to My Life

A connection between this book and my life is that there was a conflict with North Korea then, and there is now. If North Korea starts a war, it's possible that i could be drafted and have to fight just like my grandpa was selected out of the reserves. This makes me appreciate the soldiers that fight for my freedom and not take it for granted because someday i might be called to protect freedom.