An American Soldier’s Journey from Korea through the Cold War, 1927–2016
Edward Lee Smith
iUniverse, Bloomington, Indiana, 2016, 146 pages
Book Review published on: January 26, 2018
Written as an inspiration for others and as a means of therapy for what today is called posttraumatic stress injury, retired Army lieutenant colonel Edward Lee Smith recounts his experience growing up and living in twentieth-century America in Forgotten Heroes: An American Soldier’s Journey from Korea through the Cold War, 1927–2016. As an African American and a veteran of the Korean War, Smith describes the challenges he faced with segregation, racism, and the emotional and physical realties of intense ground combat during his assignment as a squad leader with the 7th Infantry Division during the Korean War.
Abandoned by his parents at the age of three, Smith describes the hardships he experienced growing up in Rich Square, North Carolina. The hard work and lessons learned from working on a farm served him well; according to Smith, life on the farm toughened him up for service in Korea.
Following the war, Smith served as an analyst on a team charged with testing the Army’s first large short-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the PGM-11 “Redstone.” Following his service, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, worked as a high school teacher and college professor, served in the Peace Corps, worked with disadvantaged youth, started his own small business, and earned a commission in the Army National Guard, where he served for two decades.
Yet, Smith could not overcome his demons. Haunted by the deaths of his fellow soldiers during the Korean War, he could not understand why they were killed and he was not; why was he spared? At the age of eighty-nine, with the encouragement of his therapist and others, Smith put pen to paper in an attempt to slay those demons.
Smith is a wonderful storyteller. He describes living through some of the most tumultuous times in America’s history. His memoir is an easy, short read. The book will be of interest to those seeking inspiration and to those interested in stories of people overcoming obstacles.
Book Review written by: David D. Haught, Fort Belvoir, Virginia