When Dick and Jerry Chappell graduated from high school in 1950, they, like all young men, found themselves in an uncertain world. The police action in Korea was escalating, and on June 27, 1950, President Truman announced that American soldiers would be joining UN troops to stop the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean army. From their jobs at the local A&P store to dinnertime at the family's dairy farm, the brothers' conversations centered around this growing conflict. They soon decided to avoid what they saw as the inevitable draft and enlisted in the United States Navy. Not wanting to take human lives, but wishing to preserve them, the brothers elected to serve as corpsmen.
In Corpsmen: Letters from Korea, the Chappell twins gathered together their letters to chronicle their experiences as medical corpsmen in the First Marine Division during the Korean War. From boot camp to Bethesda Naval Hospital and on to Fleet Marine Force training and eventually the front line, and then in Indochina, the brothers kept in contact with their family in Ohio, offering firsthand narratives of their adventures.
This book captures the lives of corpsmen serving in wartime. The concerns, laughter, homesickness, and fears of the Chappell twins come through vividly in their letters, offering to the reader the chance to understand them as well as the war in which they served.