"If the story of my Korean experience is worth telling, the value lies in its oddity, not in anything brilliant or heroic.
There were heroes in Korea, but I was not one of them. There were brilliant commanders, but I was a general captured because he took a wrong road. I am an Infantry officer and presumably was fitted for my fighting job.
I don't want to alibi that job, but a couple of things about it should be made clear. In the fighting I made some mistakes and I've kicked myself a thousand times for them. I lost ground I should not have lost. I lost trained officers and fine men. I'm not proud of that record, and I'm under no delusions that my weeks of command constituted any masterly campaign.
No man honestly can be ashamed of the Medal of Honor. For it and for the welcome given to me here at home in 1953, 1 am humbly grateful. But I come close to shame when I think about the men who did better jobs some who died doing them and did not get recognition. I wouldn't have awarded myself a wooden star for what I did as a commander.
Later, as fugitive and prisoner, I did things mildly out of the ordinary only at those times when I was excited and not thinking entirely straight; and the only thing I did which mattered to my family and perhaps a few others was to stay alive. Other prisoners resisted torture, but I wasn't tortured. Others hid in the hills and finally escaped, but I failed in my escape attempts. Others bluffed the Communists steadily, whereas I was lucky enough to do it only once in a while.
Others starved, but I was fed and even learned to like Kimchee. Others died for a principle, but I failed in a suicide attempt.
My life was an adventure, I did see the face of the enemy close up. I did have time to study his weaknesses and his remarkable strengths, not on the battlefield but far behind his lines. I saw communism working with men and women of high education or none, great intelligence or little and it was a frightening thing.
I ought to know. I swatted 40,671 flies in three years and counted every carcass. There were periods when I was batting .850 and deserved to make the big leagues.
General Dean died on August 25, 1981. General William F. Dean is buried at the Presido of San Francisco along with his wife
Posted 18 May 2008
|Subscribe to California Military History|
|Browse Archives at groups-beta.google.com|