Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

History

Major Professor

G. Kurt Piehler

Committee Members

Janis Appier, George White, Norma Mertz

Abstract

This dissertation takes a fresh look at the forgotten generation of servicemen and women who served in theater during the Korean War. Beginning with their shared childhood, growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, this narrative account follows the story of American men and women as they enlisted in or were drafted into the Armed Forces, took basic training, shipped out to the Korean Peninsula or Japan, lived in the war zone, and returned home to a country that seemed not to have noticed their absence. Special attention is paid throughout to the complex interplay between service members and the home front and to the changes which occurred in both the lives of individual Americans and in American life as a result of wartime experiences. Though not a treatise on civil rights, the dissertation examines how integration in training and in foxholes helped break down racial barriers.

Research for this project comes from the Library of Congress’s Robert A. Taft Papers and Veterans History Project Collection, the Eisenhower Papers, various collections at the National Archives and the Center for the Study of the Korean War, veteran surveys at Carlisle Barracks, oral history collections, published and unpublished memoirs, collections of veteran poetry, and contemporary newspaper and magazine stories.

This work adds greatly to the historiography of the American soldier, connecting military and social history and examining both the personal and collective consequences of waging war the American way.

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