Rebecca West: Words & Music


by Bob West

K-13 Tower

K-13, Suwon, Korea, April 1954.

Sylvia received confirmation from her doctor on March 22, 1954. She mailed her letter right away, but it took over two weeks for it to arrive with the news that I was going to be a father! The due date was October 17.

I could tell from her letter that Sylvia was very excited! I was happy too, but I was also sad because I would not be there with her during this special time. And our baby would be at least three months old by the time I would be there to hold it.

At least that is what I was expecting to happen. The Korean war was over. Or was it? The fighters were still flying sorties almost daily.

Bob and F-86 Sabre

Bob with a North American F-86 Sabre.

Thinking back on my experience in South Korea, I realized that I knew very little about that war or why we were there. I decided to do some research on the internet. This is an excerpt of what I found:

"The Korean War was a military conflict between the Republic of Korea, supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and People's Republic of China, with air support from the Soviet Union. The war began on June 25, 1950 and an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. The war was a result of the political division of Korea by agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War. The Korean peninsula had been ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of that war. In 1945, following the surrender of Japan, American administrators divided the peninsula along the 38th parallel, with United States troops occupying the southern part and Soviet troops occupying the northern part. The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides, and the North established a Communist government. The 38th Parallel increasingly became a political border between the two Koreas. Although reunification negotiations continued in the months preceding the war, tension intensified. Cross-border skirmishes and raids at the 38th Parallel persisted. The situation escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.

"The United Nations, particularly the United States, came to the aid of the South Koreans in repelling the invasion. After early defeats by the North Korean military, when a rapid UN counter-offensive repelled the North Koreans past the 38th Parallel and almost to the Yalu River, the People's Republic of China came to the aid of Communist North. With Communist China's entry into the conflict, the fighting took on a more dangerous tone. The rapid Chinese counter-offensive repelled the United Nations forces past the 38th Parallel. The Soviet Union materially aided North Korea and China. The threat of a nuclear world war eventually ceased with an armistice that restored the border between the Koreas near to the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a 2.5-mile wide buffer zone between the two Koreas." (Wikipedia article: The Korean War)

Bob Yates and Bob West

My cousin Bob Yates (left) hitched a ride from his base near Incheon
to visit me at K-13 one weekend.

Writing and drawing my "Over and Back" cartoons for publication twice a month helped me to keep busy and pass the time. I really enjoyed the work. Other airmen enjoyed Airman Smith's adventures as well and made requests for me to include their pet peeves in future episodes.

I focused on a different topic each issue. I have separated and reproduced the panels below in a size that should be easy to read on your computer display. This episode was about utilities.

Over & Back cartoon title
Over & Back cartoon panel
Over & Back cartoon panel
Over & Back cartoon panel
Over & Back cartoon panel
Over & Back cartoon panel
Over & Back cartoon panel

Over & Back cartoon cartoon

This reduction of the 3-column version scanned from a 56-year-old newspaper
will give you an idea of the original format of the episodes.

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