Elizabeth Venturini writes that when her dad, Louis Joseph Venturini, “turned 20 years old in December 1950 … it was his turn to go and serve his country.” Six months earlier “75,000
soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th Parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north, and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south.”
Louie was “honorably discharged from the Army in October 1952” after serving in Korea and being severely wounded by grenade shrapnel. His almost daily letters home revealed few details of his experiences in-country, and when he returned he had terrible nightmares for a time and “wanted to forget what had happened.”
He married in 1954 and after a few years, as the family grew, they moved to Chico from Los Angeles. Here Louie farmed almonds and prunes and, as “a licensed building and plumbing contractor, he established … the L-V Plumbing Company.”
Later, as Elizabeth read the hundreds of letters her dad had sent home, “I realized they would tell the story of the Korean War as he experienced it in 1951, not as portrayed by the Hollywood genre of films.”
He was “uprooted from his civilian life and home like thousands of other young men, to serve in a country no one had heard of, for people no one knew, and for a war nobody
Those letters, including family photographs and careful notes Elizabeth adds for context, have become “Letters From A Korean Foxhole: Remembered Words Of A Forgotten War” ($14.95 in paperback, self-published; also for Amazon Kindle with more at lettersfromakoreanfoxhole.com).
Most begin with “Dear Folks, Just a couple of lines to let you know that I am okay and hope you are all the same.”
Louie seems much more concerned with the well-being of those at home, and acknowledging salami Elizabeth’s grandmother would send, than with the military challenges he
Poignantly, Elizabeth adds comments made 70 years later when she interviewed her dad.
“A lot of good men died over there,” he told her. “A lot of my buddies. Not much to say about that.”
Dan Barnett teaches philosophy at Butte College. Send review requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Columns archived at https://dielbee.blogspot.com