“The Major” The Senior Officer in Charge: Commanding Fellow Prisoners of War by W. Thomas McDaniel, Jr.

Excerpt



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The main column had been halted for about five minutes when Bob Sharpe saw the North Korean lieutenant jogging to the area where Bob was sitting. One of the guards had been trying to get a POW to stand, but the soldier refused. He was on all fours when the junior lieutenant got to his guard’s location. Even though Bob spoke no Hangeul, he knew that the highly animated and gesturing guard was telling his superior officer that the soldier was not cooperating. And Bob could agree, having witnessed the number of times this soldier had fallen out of formation.

Of course, no one could know what is really going on in another man’s head or body. The lieutenant did not care. He had heard enough from his subordinate. He grabbed the American by the collar, spun him around while he was still on his knees, whipped out his pistol, placed it in the middle of the forehead, and blew a hole in the soldier’s skull. He shoved the pistol back in its holster, put his right hand on the burp gun he carried over his left shoulder, and ordered the POWs to their feet. The march resumed, leaving the POW face up, surprised eyes wide open, on his back with his legs and feet tucked under his buttocks.13

That evening when Major McDaniel got wind of the murder, he grabbed Master Sergeant Shinde and approached the lieutenant. He confronted the North Korean—toe to toe—less than arm’s length away. “Lieutenant, you shot one of my men. You are an officer. You need to set the example for your soldiers. My men are unarmed. They are no threat to your men. If my soldiers are not following your orders, I, or one of my officers, will get them to obey your guards.”

“Your men are animals. They are weak. I will not let them slow the march.”

“I am asking you to let my officers control my men. We can do it better than you can. If you start killing them, they will give up and slow you down.”

“We will see.” The Korean turned on his heel and joined a group of his guards.

“Did he understand me, Sergeant Shinde?”

“Yes, sir. He understood.”

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