The bravery and tenacity of the American soldier is well documented throughout the last several hundred years. However, there is no story that better shines a light on the heroism of our GIs than Lost Bastards, by L Todd Wood. The book is also a story of love, love between husband and wife, love between father and daughter, and love been brothers in arms.
The Korean War was a horrific conflict that ended, or changed forever, the lives of thousands of Americans. How ironic that one of the most brutal and uplifting stories of that war is just now coming to light, 65 years later.
Before the war, Corporal Richard Carpenter was married to a German national, in Germany, during the reconstruction from WWII. The U.S. Army would not recognize the marriage as anti-German feeling was still raw. Therefore, he did not have medical care for his dependents, including a very sick daughter. He struggled to provide and care for his young family.
As a weapons specialist, he was suddenly ‘volunteered’ for a secret mission on the Korean Peninsula, in what is now called the DMZ, right before the end of the war. After training in seclusion in Germany for several months, 28 Americans were deployed to Korea and inserted into the front lines on Hill 433, to test for the first time, battlefield radar. This gave GIs the ability to map out the terrain in front of them and ‘see’ the enemy like never before. The group was organized and trained by the Army Security Agency, the forerunner to the NSA. However, the mission was so secret, even the regular Army did not know they were there. The team was embedded with a Republic of Korea (ROK) anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) company, about one hundred South Koreans.
The men formed a cohesive unit with the ROK soldiers and trained them on four AAA batteries that were dug in on the top of Hill 433. This was good because in a few days, the People’s Republic Army, in a bid to better their position in peace talks, over ran the hill and surrounded the unit. Cut off from American forces, the men called themselves the Lost Bastards.
The next two weeks saw wave upon wave of Chinese troops attack their position, only to be repulsed by the small unit of Americans and Koreans, who used the new technology to their advantage against an overwhelming opposing force. Fourteen of the American soldiers died for their country and the freedom of the American, and South Korean, peoples.
Upon finally hearing of the GIs predicament, the commanding general in-theater called the American forces and promoted young Corporal Carpenter to Second Lieutenant, to replace the American command staff which had been killed in an artillery strike.
The story of Lost Bastards has been untold, until now. Even today, the use of the new technology during 1953 in the DMZ, as the peace talks were progressing, is something the United States still does not want to talk about and the mission remains classified. Researchers have tracked the unit’s training and deployment to Korea, but after that, the trail runs cold. Even the families of those who perished do not know how, or where, their loved ones died.
The story is one that is tailor-made for the big screen. The movie of what happened on Hill 433 is in preproduction with Lost Bastards Productions. As with any movie, however, the story comes much more alive as it leaps off the pages as you read.
Lost Bastards is one of those books you stay up all night to devour. The characters come to life as you feel the machine guns rake the earth around your feet on Hill 433. If you are a history buff, or one who has a forgotten interest in The Forgotten War, then order a signed copy of Lost Bastards at his Website. It’s one for the war history buff’s bookshelf and makes a great holiday gift!