Daniel Wolfe

Cold Ground's Been My Bed: A Korean War Memoir

A Korean War Veteran's MemoirCold Ground's Been My Bed: A Korean War Memoir

Daniel Wolfe was a Bronx, New York, teenager whose passions were baseball, fooling around in school, and hanging out at the candy store in the 1940s. Three years out of high school, he was drafted and sent to Korea.

Cold Ground's Been My Bed is his no-holds-barred memoir of the experience. The title, from a blues song sung by Wolfe's first bunker buddy at the front, speaks to the conditions experienced by soldiers suddenly thrust into the reality of war. From the physical exam at induction to his deployment into a front-line platoon, Dan tells the story with unflinching honesty and gallows humor amid tragic events.

  • In basic training, Dan, at five-foot-seven and 133 pounds, feels inadequate handling the Browning Automatic Rifle. A cadreman tells him not to worry: "It's given to the biggest men in the squad." The day Dan arrives on the front line, he is assigned the twenty-pound BAR.
  • A GI is killed by negligent "friendly fire," and Dan relates how the dead man's buddy carries out a revenge murder.
  • Dan's friend Charley teaches him how to pound posts for a perimeter fence around the company's camp and then how to violate orders that night and wander outside the fence, with court-martial consequences.
  • Dan listens to the awful silence as Company L walks warily along a ridge above the Imjin River. Over his left shoulder, distant lights from the fruitless Panmunjom peace talks mock the operation, in which his company is soon ambushed by the Chinese.
  • Dan crawls over a fire-swept terrain to retrieve the body of his sergeant, felled by the ambush. Years later, he learns that he was cited for the Silver Star, but the Jeep carrying the papers was blown up by mortar rounds.
Throughout the memoir, Dan never pretends to be more than he was, a young man being shocked and shaped by the reality of war.

As the threat of nuclear buildup in North Korea looms large, now, more than ever, Cold Ground's Been My Bed has an important story to tell.

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" I was carried back to the magic of my days in the Bronx during the Great Depression. Although money was a rare commodity, laughs were not. Those days are hilariously described in Seabury Place: A Bronx Memoir."
               -Henry H. Roth, Writer