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Hackett, John; Gammon, Roland; Ross, Sayre; Breslow, Sally (ed.) / See
Vol. 10, No. 5 (Sept. 1951)

Clark, General Mark
An open letter to mothers of GI's serving in our army,   pp. 10-11 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 11

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Intensive Training of U. S. soldiers as shown in bayonet practice   A
picture (above) toughens them for rigorous combat duties such as
this heroically charging infantryman (right) performs in Korea.       IA
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I can simplify it further. We are fighting the Communist invaders in Korea
so that we will not have to fight them in California-or in the District of
Columbia. The survival of the United States and its free institutions, which
guarantee the dignity of the individual and grant the common citizen a voice
in the government under which he lives, is at stake in Korea.
I am not going on second-hand information when I express these convictions
about Soviet Russia's aggressive plans.
I first encountered Communist methods in Italy during World War II, when
Vishinsky, under cover of his position as a member of the Allied Mediterra-
nean Commission, organized Communist activities in the liberated towns.
As High Commissioner for Austria after the war, and later as an assistant
to Secretaries of State Byrnes and Marshall in their efforts to work out an
Austrian peace treaty, I again observed Communist tactics at first hand. In
these negotiations with Soviet Russia, it was grimly evident that Moscow in-
tended to block establishment of Austria as an independent nation free of
shackling ties to the USSR. This she has been able to do to date.
Since the end of World War II, the Communists have sought to seize con-
trol of, and impose their will on, great areas of the globe. At first, they
worked to win objectives by economic, political and psychological means.
But the Reds use every device to achieve their ends, and in Korea they turned
from such means to armed aggression.
So doing, they presented a threat of future war to the United States, the
principal opponent of their plans for world conquest, and, since our Revolu-
tionary ancestors fought to guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,
Americans unfailingly have faced each such threat to their country. Your sons
are in service, therefore, because, under our system of government, each
citizen shares the responsibility-and high privilege-of aiding in the de-
fense of the nation.
I feel sure that, at heart, you are proud that your sons and daughters
march in uniform. I am. Very proud, indeed. And I am proud that my son
marches with them.
American boys and girls enter military service as the finest young men
and women in the world. They bear a precious legacy from you mothers:
a belief in God, in decency, in fair play and in the truth; as well as a deter-
mination to be free themselves, and to help protect freedom for all mankind.
It is our resolve to prepare them for battle and ultimately to return them to
their homes strengthened in moral fiber as well as physical stamina. We want
military service to be personally rewarding, as well as a deep fulfillment of the
obligations of an American.
Some mothers, in their letters, ask whether or not the training we are giv-
ing their sons is too severe. Others ask whether these young men are being
sent into combat too soon, and whether they really know what they are fight-
ing for. Still others want to know whether we are taking due care of their
sons' physical, mental and spiritual well being.
We who train the youth of America to defend freedom must instill in the
soldier the will to fight and the skill to overcome a foe who violates every
recognized rule of war. Your sons and daughters have been taught that human
life is sacred. They face a fanatical foe to whom life is cheap and death
commonplace. In battle. they must meet an enemy whose soldiers have no
qualms about charging into withering fire, because they know hesitation will
only bring death from their own officers' guns.
To mothers who write that our training program is rugged, I must reply
that we train your boy to fight the enemy we face-and live. Our young sol-
diers are conditioned to the hardships and the fear and confusion of battle.
in order to survive when battle comes. We use live ammunition in training.
Trainees crawl on the ground while machine gun fire passes overhead. Artil-
lery shells whine over practice battlefields. The trainee learns to stay down.
and come out alive after a tank passes over his foxhole. This sort of training
saves lives.
To mothers who ask whether your sons get sufficient training before going
into combat, I can give a firm answer: yes. No man is sent overseas until he
has had at least fourteen weeks of training. There have been rumors of sol-
diers sent to Korea after three weeks of training. We have sent some members
of the Enlisted Reserve overseas after three weeks of refresher training. But
these were men with prior service. Important factors were carefully weighed
in determining the amount of re-training required: recency of active service.
previous combat experience and other considerations.
Mothers of America can be assured that every effori is being made to
insure that their sons and daughters know why they are serving. undergoing
training and fighting. I know, and the Army knows. that an informed soldier
is infinitely better than one who must fight blindly without understanding
why. Every officer in the Army is under orders to make clear to every man the
reason why he fights, and the nature of the victory he strives to win.
Under all circumstances, we who have your sons in charge watch carefully
over their health. Physical exercise under supervision, ample, good food and
the best medical care obtainable in the world will send them back to von
stronger than ever in body. The average new soldier gains five pounds within
a few months, and the overweight lose accordingly. Educational training.
association with alert minds of fine leaders and proper recreation will insure
their mental well being also.
Finally, I want you to know that we of the Army fully realize that Divine
Providence must guide the stout hearts of our soldiers. Ours is an Army with
faith in God and a steadfast will to fight for His principles. Your sons and
daughters will find spiritual leadership in the Army. whatever their religion.
In all earnestness, therefore, and in all confidence. I say to you mothers
that your sons and daughters who serve will return to you better men and
women-better Americans-for having fulfilled their duty to their country.
Sincerely,
MARK W. CLARK
General, U.S. Army
Chief Army Field Forces
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