Return To Heartbreak RidgeReturn To Heartbreak Ridge is the story of a sons' search for his fathers' past, and a series of letters received from Korean War Veteran SFC Seymour "Hoppy" Harris, a gunner with Company H, 23d Infantry Regiment, 1951. It is a complex story.
Warning: Strong language, pejorative terms, and honesty.
A Ruddy Saint
I was reading an old letter written during the May Massacre and I said, "If this thing lasts much longer, there will be no more 23rd left."
We kicked hell out of those people, there is little doubt, but we sure took a hell of a pasting ourselves. Little by little they chewed us up, and we needed that long rest we got in June, when we went into reserve. If I had of known what lay in store for us I may have taken off across country, head up and tail arising.
And if I had known it in Osaka with the little Japanese girl, I know damn well I'd given a lot of thought to telling the army to buzz off.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't exactly playing with a full deck then. The girl said I cried in my sleep. I'd thrash around and yell out, and she'd wake me up and wipe the sweat off my forehead and try to comfort me.
During the day I hid whatever was bothering me and put on a hardass front for effect.
I remember guys saying they wish they could be like I was, that I didn't act like anything was bothering me, and seldom showed any fear. But if they only knew what was going on inside of me they wouldn't have felt that way. They will never know how hard I pushed myself to hang in there, and how at times I was so scared I did things I can't remember. Fear can make a tiger out of you. Guess I was like the guy who has the tiger by the tail. He's scared to hang on and scared to let go.
You know, when we were giving supporting fire and the mortars were coming in, no one wanted to quit firing and crawl in a hole anymore than I did. But I tried to lock my mind on what we had to do, think of what we meant to those riflemen out there, and well, if it happens, nothing I can do about it.
Oh, naturally, you could bolt and run, but Christ, if I'd ever done that, I could never live with myself again.
If a round landed close, no matter what it was, I chewed my gum a little harder and cussed up a storm. Made like a hornet because I was scared.
Hal, in your writing, I would hope you give the medical people, especially those in the 4th Field Hospital at Taegu, their just dues. I have never been treated in any hospital as well as I was treated there. And believe me, I've been a patient in a lot of hospitals.
Captain Nora C. Hasselmire. I've got a picture of her dressing the wound of a soldier in late October 1950. An Australian soldier named Miller always said she was a "Ruddy Saint."
And man, he had it pretty close. What a fantastic person she was! If anyone deserves recognition, she does. And five will get you ten she never got squat. That's the way it is. Those who do the most get the least.
I'm sure I've told you about her before, but she is someone who pops up in my mind every so often. If you want to talk about heroes, then there is one for you. I couldn't have done her job, I'll tell you that. I wish she were close by, I'd go have a talk with her. I mean it. She was the type who made you feel better just being in her presence.
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