Why Me?

by Gabriel Urbina


Pilots who had served in War World II were recalled to served in the Korean War. One of these pilots was Ted Williams.

The protagonist of The Bridges at Toko-Ri, a short novel by James Michener, published in 1953, is Harry Brubaker, a Naval Reserve Officer, a veteran of World War 2, who has been called back to active duty, to serve in Korea as a fighter pilot. He is not happy to have been recalled. His personal and professional life have been interrupted, after several years of peacetime. He has a family and works as an attorney. He asks himself, "why me?" Nevertheless, he is serving his country again.

In the 1954 film, based on this novel, Brubaker, played by William Holden, shows his anger and frustration, while he is in his compartment. He cannot sleep or relax with the noise of airplanes taking off the Navy Carrier. The question "why me?" in Brubaker's thoughts is not incorporated in the film's dialogue, helping to emphasize the heroism and patriotism of men like Lt. Brubaker.

In real life, there was a recall of World War 2 veterans to serve in the Korean War. They were mainly officers who were in the inactive reserve. There were already skilled pilots, who were sent to a refresher course, then sent to Korea. One of this men was baseball player Ted Williams.

There were hundreds of baseball players who served in both WW2 and Korea, but Williams was the only one to serve in both wars. Like the fictional Lt. Brubaker, Ted Williams was not very happy to have been recalled. His baseball career was interrupted for four years, from 1942 to 1946. He went on active duty in 1943, trained as a pilot, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in May of 1944. He was discharged from the Marine Corps in May of 1944.

Williams served in Korea in 1952 and 1953, Back then, 154 games were played per team, during a baseball season. Williams played only 6 games in 1952, before going to war again; and 37 games in 1953, after the war. In spite of the fact his career was interrupted twice by war, he went on to become a baseball legend. His experiences on and off the baseball field made him unique, one of a kind.

In our times, the Armed Forces of the United States is composed exclusively by volunteers. The question "why me?" does not seem to be applicable anymore. Perhaps the question "why am I here?" lingers in the mind of some of our professional soldiers.

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