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Friday, December 7, 2012

POST 1015: DECEMBER 07, 2012; PANMUNJOM, KOREA (SUMMER 1953)

Summer months of 1953 brought diminished pressure to Base Camp, Panmunjom.  Not to say there was not plenty to do...just that projects proceeded at a more leisurely pace, resulting in more freedom. 

I spent many hours wandering the hills east of Base Camp along the DMZ.  I often thought of Jay, my brother who also recently fought in Korea.

Jay - actually, half-brother Jay - actually Benton Parmer Maynard, Jr, drove an amphibious tank for the 7th Cavalry - same unit commanded by Lt. Colonel Custer at the battle of the Little Big Horn -.  Jay's unit was involved in the retreat from Chosin Reservoir.  Jay never talked to me about his time in Korea,, only that he was involved in combat.  Through research, I determined that his unit turned north, facing the Communists someplace near the Imjin River - see: Freedom Bridge.

Jay was one of my four brothers...Jay, Chuck, Russell, and Jim...all now dead.   Three sisters, Carol, Millie, and half sister, Bonnie are all three hanging in there.
Back to Jay, however...Jay was an angry bitter  man.  Upon Dad's divorce from his first wife, Leona, Chuck, Russell, and Bonnie were adopted out.  Jay, the youngest, was kept by his (our) father.  Leona II, my Mother and Dad's second wife, became Jay's new mother and protector.  It was Jay, Jim and I who worked since 1941 in the Japanese Truck Farms in the Kent Valley south of Seattle.  Jay was a loner...whereas Jim and I shared a room...and until 1946, shared a bed, Jay had his own private room.  I watched Jay while on the stump ranch, smash his fist through the garage window, severely cutting his arm. 

Quitting school in the 7th grade, Jay disappeared, surfacing as an oiler on a tramp ship travelling the world's oceans.  Jay returned to Kennewick in 1948, driving delivery trucks for our family business, Tri City Freight Lines.  Much of Jay's time driving was to, within, and from the Hanford Atomic Works near Richland.  Memorable about Hanford was discovery that our US Government intentionally released radioactive gas into the atmosphere..reportedly just to see what effect it had on down wind life forms.  Those of us living within gas-release area have come to be called "Down Winders".  Jay passed away at an early age after suffering from Leukemia...likely resulting from his "down winder" exposure from Hanford.

* * * * * * * * * *

I often think of Jay.  He and I were not particularly close, but we did share feelings and secrets.  I introduced Jay to Pat, his wife, and looked to Jay as Big Brother.  In the final days of Jay's battle against Leukemia, I was living in White Plains...alone in a room with single bed and a chair...toilet down the hall; Jay telephoned me...Bruce, I am miserable...Pat inherited $10,000 and is off to Hawaii.  My eyes are real bad (Jay loved to read)...I begged Pat for a pair of reading glasses, but she said no...it would be a waste of $$ on me.  Can I come to live with you?  I had no place to have Jay join me.  A few days later, Jay died in the VA Hospital (Veterans Administration) in Seattle...our Mother, Leona II, alone at his bedside.

Seems so many live out their lives, hardly anyone noticing they were even here.  I have set as one of my goals to introduce some of these people...kind people who deserve to known.

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