James Cochran was drafted into the Korean War in 1952 with little knowledge of the country itself. He describes his training in artillery with the Army and his duties in the Fire Direction Center after arriving in Korea. He explains how atmospheric variables influence the trajectory of weapon fire and offers an account of how those variables are collected and utilized to perfect target success. He recalls the softer side of war by describing his living conditions and the letters he crafted and sent home during his service. He marvels at the progress Korea has made since the war and its successful economic status today. In closing, he reflects upon his generation’s service and the outcome.
Duties in the Fire Direction Center
James Cochran recounts his transfer and arrival at post in the Punch Bowl area and details the living conditions there amid the artillery. He describes his role in the Fire Direction Center (FDC) which entailed providing the battery with information for aiming. He offers a shift rotation example for this particular role as well.
Weather Data Use in Firing Artillery
James Cochran describes using weather data to influence firing artillery. He recalls a separate unit sending up weather balloons to collect data on wind direction, temperature, humidity, and other measures used in making artillery corrections and firing trajectory adjustments. He explains the importance of these variables with regard to successfully hitting targets.
Softer Side of War
James Cochran offers a glimpse of the softer side of war. He recounts his living conditions in bunkers and recalls sleeping without heat from the bunker furnace at night despite the cold temperatures. He remembers being well fed and shares that he often wrote letters home during his service, detailing the weather and requesting items such as socks and camera film.
Modern Korea's Growth
James Cochran shares his thoughts on Korea, a country he knew nothing about prior to the Korean War. He marvels at the advances and growth of modern Korea in the automobile and electronics industries and shares that Korea's successful economic status is difficult to explain given the devastation inflicted by the war. He also acknowledges the competition between Korean businesses and Google located in his hometown despite the relatively short period of time following the war as a means of economic comparison.