FORGOTTEN WAR: They call Korea “the forgotten war.” Yet 36,407 U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Coast Guard members were killed there, compared with the not-so-forgotten Vietnam War, where 58,209 Americans were killed, according to the World Almanac.
The draft was on, and college students were being plucked off campuses or working on deferments to avoid the bloody battles in Korea. Once in the Army, some of the best, the brightest, and the luckiest found themselves being recruited for U.S. intelligence work. The Cold War was on, too.
Richard Cheney, who went on to become vice president for George W. Bush (who avoided Vietnam by joining the Texas National Guard) received five Korea-era deferments during his six years in college.
Two who did go to Korea were future high-profile Santa Barbara developer Jerry Beaver and UCSB-history-professor-to-be Frank Frost, who later was elected county supervisor.
JERRY’S KOREA: In the spring of 1952, he was completing his second year at Arizona State College (now Arizona State University) studying pre-architecture. After he transferred to the University of Texas, the draft board found him. He emailed me the following account:
“I received a call from my mother in Springfield, Ill., with a tearful shaking in her voice, informing me that I had received my draft notice. My brother had been badly injured while walking across France with Patton’s 3rd Army in 1944, and with the Korean War going full blast she had reason to be concerned.
“But the Springfield draft board was in the Ft. Leonard Wood district, and I heard what a terrible hellhole it was. Did I really want to spend a winter in Missouri?
“So I decided that if I could report to the draft board in Phoenix maybe I would be sent to Ft. Ord, California., which was paradise compared to Missouri. So I walked out to the highway going west, stuck out my thumb, and the first car driving by stopped. Ten hours later I was at the Phoenix draft board, honorably accepted into the U.S. Army.
“I was immediately assigned to a heavy weapons infantry company” at Ft. Ord, he wrote. In 16 weeks, he would be in combat in Korea. “Where would I be if I had not been so snooty about Ft. Leonard Wood?” Beaver wondered.
“But fate intervened,” Jerry said. An officer offered him a shot at officer training school, saying, “ ‘I need a yes or no answer right now.’ But in lightning speed I thought: Going to Frozen Chosin in two weeks with a heavy weapons infantry unit, or spending the summer in Virginia? I quickly muttered ‘OCS Sir.’ The 1950 Chosin Reservoir battle was one of the bloodiest of the war.
“I later flew to Korea as a second lieutenant, but by then the war had slowed down, and the fighting finally stopped.” A year later, he was at the University of Colorado studying architecture, and ended up in Santa Barbara in 1960. “Somebody or something was looking after a hayseed from Central Illinois. Or was it just fate?”
FRANK’S KOREA: “It was in 1950 when I joined the Army and went up to Boston to take the physical and IQ test,” recalled Frost. “When I went back the next week, a pleasant major took me aside and asked if I was interested in Army intelligence. I, however, saw myself at the time as a paratrooper and I turned him down.” As a result, Frost was sent to Korea and survived for a year on the front lines.
TALE OF TWO WILLS: The late multimillionaire Huguette Clark signed two wills within six weeks when she was 98, but both are likely to be tossed out by the court.
Why? Because both 2005 documents are tainted by the highly questionable influence of her attorney, Wally Bock, and accountant, Irving Kamsler. Both stand to gain big-time under the wills, but both are now under criminal investigation over their handling of Clark’s estate.
If the wills get tossed, what happens to her $400-million estate, including the $100-million hilltop property on East Cabrillo Boulevard that would house the art museum her second will envisioned?
Well, surprise, surprise. The young Huguette Clark also signed wills in 1926 and 1929, leaving her entire estate to her mother, Anna, according to msnbc.com investigative reporter Bill Dedman. Anna died in 1963, which, under New York law, would mean that her estate would go to her present distant relatives, Dedman said.
They are now battling to invalidate the two 2005 wills. In court documents filed in New York Monday, an attorney for 19 of the 21 relatives disinherited by the second 2005 will accused Bock and Kamsler of “plundering” her estate, according to Dedman. Whether the heirs would follow through with the museum plan is uncertain.
Before the court are grave issues “of alleged deceit, undue influence, and exploitation of a very elderly and extraordinarily wealthy woman at the hands of two professionals who, with the help of certain others, took control of her life, isolated her from family, and ultimately stripped her of her free will, as well as millions of dollars,” attorney John R. Morken told the court. Clark died last May at 104.