Me versus History

Disclaimer: this information may be obvious to most.

I admit history was not my favorite subject in school. I’m not even sure we covered the Korean War in high school. (Before you smartasses say something snarky about the Korean War was a current event to me back then, I graduated in 1985. I’m old—not that old.)

It wasn’t until I married an enthusiast who liked to spout historical facts that I started to pay any attention. He talked about the people in history rather than the dates, which was more interesting. That’s one of the reasons I found this project challenging. I had to match dates with battles from Dad’s letters. I was taking tests in high school again.

One of the things that confused me at the beginning of my research was the M.A.S.H. unit. My only reference to the Korean War as a kid was TV’s M*A*S*H. Our whole family watched it. Well, Dad didn’t. Mom said he was a corpsman at one. It didn’t seem so bad with all the jokes and hijinks. Dad hated that show. Now, I understand why.

However, as I read Dad’s letters, he referred to Able Med as the place he spent much of his time during the war. My husband’s knowledge of random historical facts didn’t help in this instance. It wasn’t until a week into my fact checking that I understood M.A.S.H. units were for the Army and Med Stations (like Able Med and Easy Med) were for the Marines.

Navy Corpsmen worked with the Marines. The Army equivalents were Medics. The light bulb above my head brightened. It all fell into place for me. Now, I could focus on creating characters who told me their story—my favorite part of writing.

I’ve since learned that Navy corpsmen aided the Marines in a variety of places in Korea: the Battalion Reserve hospital in the rear, Medical Evacuation hospitals close to the front, Forward Aid stations just behind the fighting, and the front lines patrolling with the Marines.

How about that? My husband learned something from me about history.

(Christina: 1; Kraig: 286) Thanks for stopping by.

 

Dearest Mother and Dad now available

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Add Dearest Mother and Dad to your GOODREADS list

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.

 

My Unexpected Journey toward Forgiveness

For two years, I’ve stepped beyond my comfort zone and into a raw place of anger, sadness, and then understanding in this personal project of historical fiction.

It first started after my dad passed away. We were going through his things and found a stack of letters he wrote to his parents during the Korean War. Well, my dad never talked about that time in his life. I wanted to know if these letters gave any indication why he was unbending and emotionally absent.

I organized the letters chronologically with the idea of sharing these historical papers with his grandchildren. For a month, I carefully typed up the chicken scratch cursive on pages of transparent tracing paper. At first, I thought the unreadable writing was some kind of secret military code. With my mom’s help, we deciphered his words.

As I read through one hundred letters, I found that they weren’t quite complete. As a corpsman, Dad had antidotes about life in Korea, but the letters had no context, no big picture history. I wanted to give my family a complete awareness of that time period, so I decided to create my own fictional story around his letters using a character from my Series. If you’ve read the Chemical Attraction Series, you may be familiar with Matt Connor’s father, Orrin. He was the perfect age and had the demeanor I needed to tell the story.

After six months of researching the Korean War, I was able to match dates and battles with my dad’s letters. I had fit more pieces of the puzzle together, and I have two thick binders to prove it.

Next, I needed to tie the letters together with a beginning, middle, and end. I spent another four months outlining a complete story battling my own emotions about my dad along the way. In a sense, writing this story was healing therapy between my dad and me. We weren’t close in life, but I feel like I know him a little better now. Through his letters, I learned how much he loved his parents. I found inspiration in the picture on the cover. Can you see and feel the love?

I wondered if our relationship would have been different if I had known about his past while he was alive. I will never know. In the end, it is what it is. Do I have regrets? No. I may not have written this story otherwise. I’ve made my peace. I’d like to think Dad had a hand in the fictional scenes of the story. Wishful thinking? Sure, why not? I believe we have spirit guides. Maybe my personal journey was heaven sent.

Dearest Mother and Dad now available

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

KOBO

APPLE BOOKS

Add Dearest Mother and Dad to your GOODREADS list

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.

Sneak Peek into Dearest Mother and Dad

Matt Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series has been through the emotional ringer. I recently added to his distress. Luckily, he has his wife, Eva, and his son, David, to help him. Here’s an excerpt from my newest novel, Dearest Mother and Dad. It’s a standalone piece of historical fiction about Matt’s father, Orrin Connor, who was a minor character in my Series.

PROLOGUE

Standing alone in the middle of his parents’ living room, Matt Connor rubbed the back of his crew cut. Where do I start? Framed family pictures consumed every space on the walls. He couldn’t tell what color the wallpaper was. Knickknacks gathered dust and cluttered the end tables, china cabinet, curios cabinets, shelves, and the hutch. What am I supposed to do with all of this bric-a-brac? He had so many questions, and he’d just buried the man who always had the answers.

His wife, Eva, and their seventeen-year-old son, David, were going to help him clean and prep the house to sell. The money would go into David’s college fund. Matt didn’t know what he’d do without Eva and David; they gave him solace after his parents’ deaths.

David burst through the front door, balancing a stack of flattened packing boxes, a roll of tape, and Sunday’s thick Kalamazoo Gazette. “Where do you want to start?” he asked his father, dumping his armload onto the living room carpet.

“Well,” Matt replied, “we can donate the books to the library and then the collectables and clothes to the Salvation Army.”

“That’s a good start.” Eva joined them from the kitchen. “I’ll call the women’s shelter to see what they need.”

For the next week, the Connor family packed and delivered items to various nonprofit charity sites around town. By the end of the week, when the house had been virtually emptied, Matt and David carried up from the basement two worn-out cardboard boxes labeled “Orrin’s stuff” in Matt’s father’s tidy cursive. They set the boxes in the middle of the empty living room floor. Eva had just returned, carrying in a large pizza and a six-pack of Coke.

David relieved her of the Cokes. “Last two boxes,” he informed her.

Sitting on the floor, they ate their dinner. In between bites, David rummaged inside the first box. He pulled out a thick stack of faded envelopes held together by a pale pink ribbon.

“These are dated 1952,” David said.

“Really?” Matt leaned over the other box. He picked up a picture of a General pinning a medal on what appeared to be his then-eighteen-year-old father, Orrin Connor, during the Korean War.

“Grandpa got a medal?” David asked. “For what?”

Eva opened the top letter as Matt stared at the photo. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Dad never talked about his experiences in Korea.”

“He was a corpsman,” Eva said, glancing at the letter.

“What’s a corpsman?” David asked.

“Like a medic,” she replied. “These are letters he mailed to his parents.”

“Wow,” David said. “Let’s read some. I don’t know much about that war.”

Eva looked at Matt. “Are you up for this?”

Matt nodded and leaned back against the bare wall. “I’d like to know more, too.”

…come back next week for an excerpt from Chapter One…

 

Preorder your copy of Dearest Mother and Dad

$1.99

Release Date: May 21, 2020

AMAZON

BARNES&NOBLE

APPLE BOOKS

KOBO

GOODREADS

“One hundred and twenty Marines wounded. Eighteen dead. All for one lousy hill.”

Corpsman Orrin Connor’s faithful letters with a touching twist shield his parents from the horrors of war. His buddy Rawley Armstrong’s poignant letters give his sister the harrowing truths. Throughout their dangerous assignments during the Korean War, they debate the consequences of their choices. Orrin gains comfort in downplaying his experiences while Rawley feels a healing purge. As they get to know the Marines in their charge, the corpsmen gather a variety of opinions. Although Orrin and Rawley disagree, their friendship remains true until the bitter end.

“It all happened within minutes. For some, it would last a lifetime.”

Based on her father’s letters to his parents throughout the Forgotten War, author Christina Thompson has produced this work of historical fiction to pay tribute to Navy corpsmen by remembering their service to their brothers and their country. Imagining her father had guarded his parents from the carnage of war, Christina elaborates on what could have happened while staying true to the dates and experiences her father shared in his actual letters.