A touching new memoir from Korean War veteran Kenneth J. LaRue has just been published. It's called "CANDY: True Tales of a 1st Cavalry Soldier in the Korean War and Occupied Japan." LaRue, of Canton, New York, co-wrote the book with his son, William LaRue, of Liverpool, New York, who completed the book after his father passed away November 30, 2012.
The 178-book begins with Kenneth's recollections growing up in Norwood, New York, during the Great Depression and World War II. He recalls leaving a permanent scar on his hand from playing with firecrackers; slaughtering chickens raised in the back yard -- and then having to pluck them; and going to school with holes in his shoes due to rationing. He joins the Army in 1950 at age 18 and heads off to Fort Dix for basic training and to Fort Bliss to learn radar repair. Through quirky circumstances, he never ends up repairing a single radar in the field; instead, as the war rages, he's called into combat duty on the front line in Korea serving with the 1st Cavalry Division, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, George Company.
Soon, he's elevated to one of the most dangerous jobs in the 8th Regiment -- manning his squad's Browning Automatic Rifle. The North Korean enemy and its Chinese allies would often target the "B.A.R. Man" since they feared its rapid-fire capabilities over conventional rifles.
LaRue tells his story in a fast-paced style, full of brutal honesty with a touch of humor about life on the front line in Korea and about how he survived Army life from 1950-1953. The title "CANDY" is inspired in part by mispronunciation of Kenny by the "bar girls" he meets while serving in Occupied Japan. Candy happens to be, too, a recurring element of Ken's story, from the treats he gives to beggar children in Korea to the Army candy he used to settle his stomach after a extremely deadly battle on Thanksgiving 1951.
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