Monday, April 8, 2024

Like Father, like Daughter: Harris Stearns’ war memoir a must-read for history buffs

Memories from the Forgotten War book cover

My father (Elwyn “Pete” Bellinger) recently called to say hello and then to reminisce about Garoga, where he grew up with three brothers and one sister.  My Dad’s father, Frank, and brother, Frank (“Sonny,”) helped build the first Rockwood-Garoga-Lasselsville firehouse. During our conversation, my father asked if I had ever heard of Harris Stearns, or his book, Memories From The Forgotten War. My father knew Stearns and seeing him walking one night, gave him a ride home on his motorcycle.

I ordered the book, and at 120 pages, it was a quick read. The book jacket describes Stearns as being born in Rockwood and serving in the army from 1948 to 1954, in both Japan and Korea. After discharge, he served three years with the National Guard in Gloversville.

In Korea, Harris and his fellow soldiers struggled with old, rusty tanks from the previous war. They overheated, had no replacement parts, etc. Radios didn’t work. This part reminded me of Unbroken in which Louis Zamperini was forced to fly beat up planes. The crews had to scavenge one plane to fix another.

So, if you’re interested in Fulton County history, pick up this interesting little book and lose yourself in Harris Stearns’ stories from Korea.

Photo at top provided by Laura Bellinger.

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I am a retired teacher who enjoys the outdoors, especially the Adirondacks. My parents took us camping when we were kids, then we attended 4-H Camp in Speculator (a former CCC camp). As an adult, I served on the Camp board for 8 years. I went to my friend's camp in Bloomingdale (Saranac) for 10 years. We enjoyed cross country skiing, canoeing, fishing, snowshoeing, etc. I still hike, cross country and downhill ski, snowshoe. I bicycle and ride a Harley. I play the organ at a 300 year old church.

5 Responses

  1. Bonnie Pulis says:

    Is this book available to buy, I looked on both Amazon and ABE books with no luck.

  2. laura bellinger says:

    Oh no! You’re right! I JUST ordered this book from Amazon. I just checked and it says “no longer available”. Would it help if I donate it to the Johnstown Library?

    • John Marona says:

      And the bombs that exploded on the deck of the USSForestall in 1967 during the Vietnam conflict were surplus from the Korean War. It does seem that the military does better now.

  3. Martin Lindsay says:

    The USA can be proud of choosing to fight to protect South Korea from communist takeover, but not necessarily from how we went about it, and afterward. In the late 1950’s I served as a clerk in a battalion office and processed paper for discharges of a number of men who had stayed in after WWII, through Korea, and were being let go just short of the 20 year’s service qualifying them for a good pension. I could not help feeling that the release was intended to keep them from getting that good pension. The great majority were little educated, probably not very smart, and had little to recommend them for a job BUT they’d hung in there for us and deserved better.

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