I am bragging when I point out that I have known Maurice
Bessinger for decades. We talked for many hours through
the years. But I only heard him mention his Korean
War experiences once.
He said he was walking guard duty in Korea with a
Republic of Korea (ROK) soldier during the Korean
War. The ROK soldier said for Maurice to stay on guard
and he would go back and go to sleep.
A little later, an ROK officer showed up and asked
Maurice where the ROK guard was. Maurice told him.
The officer walked back to where the soldier was sleeping
and a minute later Maurice heard the sharp crack of
his pistol. He had shot the guard while he lay there
That was all Maurice ever said to me about Korea
in all our many hours of conversation.
I came to find out later that Maurice Bessinger was
in the most vicious part of the fighting in that awful
war. But he simply never mentioned it.
I have known a lot of people who talk constantly
about combat and others like Maurice who mention it
barely or not at all. The ones who talk about it usually
make you feel that they want you to feel responsible
for it all. You owe them more money for it, and only
they have any right to talk about war.
Then there are people like Maurice who don't claim
some kind of special godhood from their time in combat.
I was raised with the World War II generation, so
I am very familiar with both types.
A very simple rule separates the braggarts and the
real heroes like Maurice.
Maurice Bessinger did his fighting and then went
back to being a citizen. He has had one hell of a
life since then.
Another guy I know fought for five months in World
War II, then he became an alcoholic and stayed in
the service. Because he had won a Silver Star, they
let him stay in, drunkenness and all.
This guy talks about nothing but World War II. He
tells how he is the only person who should talk about
war. He says we owe him.
The latter gentleman beats his chest so much I think
he's broken some ribs.
The guy who talks about his college football days
or his time in service all the time, hoping you will
feel obligated and inferior, is almost invariably
somebody who has not had a life since. I saw an outstanding
example just a couple of years ago on the television
The cops were called to a bar where an old guy kept
pulling his pants down. When they arrived, he shouted
that he had been at D-Day. I wonder how many times
he has used that to stay out of jail.
Maurice Bessinger has shown physical courage in war,
but he has also shown MORAL courage by taking the
field in politics. It has cost him dearly. A major
part of his life's work has been destroyed because
he dared to speak out. Bessinger will never have to
convince anyone worth talking to that he is a hero.
Please read November 20, 1999 - TYPES