Last week you read the account of Bill Maule's return to Korea after 63 years (see below if you missed it).
This week we have this "sequel" from The Man himself:
You, my long suffering fellow Kingstonians, have already heard too much about my return trip to Korea. Nevertheless, I did not want to leave the impression that I have always been in my present overweight decrepitude. (I only hope to equal your state of "decrepitude" when I reach your age, Bill!)
In the background is the then only indication that the DMZ starts here.
submitted by Ron Carter
Rotarian Bill Maule says “You Can Go Back”
Kingston - When Second Lieutenant Bill Maule arrived in Korea December 31, 1953, he had no idea he would have a “bucket list” during his lifetime. There he served in the 31st Infantry Division as a Delta Company recoilless rifle platoon leader. A fresh second lieutenant commanding veterans. His outfit was stationed at Camp Casey, just north of Seoul on the main corridor from North Korea to Seoul. The famous Pork Chop Hill was in site. By the time Lieutenant Maule arrived the Korean cease fire had been in effect six months so he saw no fighting. As a result, however, continuous training exercises kept the platoon battle ready. Many veterans in the platoon complained they preferred the war to the training. Training was tougher. After nine months, Maule returned to the states. But the taste for foreign shores developed in Korea led him to a career in foreign service.
Fast forward 63-years. And the bucket list. Bill Maule today is a proud Rotarian, a member of Kingston North Kitsap Rotary Club. When he learned that Rotary International’s 2016 convention would be in Seoul, there was no hesitation. It was his chance to cross off a bucket list item and return. The convention was a highlight. 47,000 Rotarians were there, presenting 90 flags from countries around the world. There was a special Rotary program for returning veterans.
Six days before the meetings Maule drove to Camp Casey. It 1953 it was a wide open area. Now it is surrounded by a city. In 1953 the road toward the DMZ and the railroad tracks in that direction were in open spaces. Today the highway is lined with businesses. In 1953 he spent time on a hill overlooking a river north of Seoul. He found that hill on the bucket list trip. Now it is in a gorgeous forest. The river is full of recreation. He was amazed by the progress in Seoul. “Then, there was piles of war rubble everywhere - the streets had been cleared - still there was rubble. You had to watch for pickpockets.” Today Seoul is very modern. Subways and commuter trains exist, yet there are still terrific traffic problems. Though it is hard to communicate, Maule’s takeaway from the trip was how friendly and helpful the people were. He says, “you can go back.” And to do so as a pound Rotarian of twelve years.
Lieutenant Maule’s Kingston North Kitsap Rotary Club works to improve lives in the community and the world. Meetings occur Wednesday’s at 11:45 a.m. at Village Green Community Center in Kingston. Guests are welcome.