As a former Navy JAG officer, Don Brown understands the military. Perhaps that’s why betrayal, treason, and the cost of war weigh so heavily on him. In his newest novel,
Thunder in the Morning Calm, Brown takes readers down the rabbit’s hole in the Korean War.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION DRIVING THE STORY IN THUNDER IN THE MORNING CALM?
I’m a fiercely patriotic guy. I believe in America. I do not believe in and will not support some one-world-order governance under the auspices of the United Nations. And as a result, it’s always bothered me that our Korean War vets have been overlooked, underappreciated and forgotten. No war should be called a “Forgotten War,” and no war should be referred to as a “conflict,” or as a “police action,” as the politically-correct police have tried to re-classify Korea in the history books.
Korea was no “UN Police Action.” Some tried to call it that. But the Korean War was, for the most part, and American war of liberation. Most of the blood, toil, tears and sweat spilled in liberating South Korea was American.
When you think about what our forces did in Korea, in saving South Korea from communism, this is one of the most valorous and amazing feats in American political history, and should rank right up there with what we accomplished at Normandy. When you look at the hard historical facts, the fact is that the communists had launched a sneak attack in 1950 and controlled every square mile of South Korea except for a small area around Pusan in the southeast. But the daring heroic efforts of the Army, Navy and Marines at Inchon, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, prosecuting a perfectly-executed amphibious invasion in dangerous conditions of rapidly rising and falling tides, is nothing short of a military miracle.
We cut the communist supply lines at the belt, then pushed them all the way back to the Chinese border in the north, before the war ended at the 38th parallel, precisely where it began. In the end, we saved South Korea from communist totaliarianism, and today, instead of having the most oppressive communist regime in the world controlling all of the Korean peninsula, South Korea is one of the brightest democracies in the world.
Yet sadly, while many American still remember places like Normandy and Gettysburg and Pearl Harbor, and rightly so, very few know anything at all about Inchon, the sight of MacArthur’s great and daring amphibious landing in Korea. That’s not right. And so a great motivation in writing this novel was to bring attention and honor to our Korean War vets.
OVER THE COURSE OF WRITING IT, WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST DURING THE JOURNEY?
Here’s what surprised me the most: I learned conclusively, without a doubt, through my research, that we left men behind in North Korean prison camps, although our government denied this at the time the war ended in 1953. South Korea and North Korea also denied the existence of American and South Koreans were left behind there. But all that was a lie.
For years, there had been accounts of sightings of elderly Americans behind the lines in North Korea, and these sightings continued up until just a few years ago.
Three things happened in the late 1990s that began to dispel the official party line that no Americans had been left behind. First, the Pentagon official who ran the POW center under the Clinton Administration resigned his position on the grounds that he could no longer accept the government’s official position that no Americans had been left behind in North Korea. Second, two South Korean MIAs escaped North Korea, returning to the South with their families, having met wives while they were in the North. The Former South Korean MIAs verified that others were in North Korea. Finally, in a virtual smoking-gun admission, the Eisenhower Presidential library released previously-classified documents admitting that the United States had left at least 900 prisoners behind in North Korea!
This admission was astounding, and it’s bothersome that it’s gotten virtually no press and no attention. I wonder how those American soldiers and marines must have felt, being left behind enemy lines, and not only forgotten, but also denied by their own government. I view this as a travesty to our American warriors, and one of the most overlooked travesties of our history.
Thus, in the storyline of Thunder in the Morning Calm, I decided to explore the plight of what it would be like to be a marine, left behind enemy lines in a cold, cruel communist prison camp, forgotten by generations of Americans.
WHAT PARTS WERE INSPIRED BY REAL-LIVE (EITHER RESEARCH OR EXPERIENCE)?
I was inspired originally by my dad, who served in the Army in Korea just after the end of the war. He was in the Army dental corps in 1956 and 1957 as an enlisted dental assistant. During that time, he had unlimited access into the DMZ, and was frequently at Panmunjon, the abandoned village on the border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean War was signed. I remember his stories about going straight into the hut where the Armistice was signed, with the border painted down the middle of the floor of the hut, with angry-faced North Korean guards on one side, and American and South Korean dollars on the other.
WHY DO YOU THINK STORY IS SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
An excellent question. Obviously, story presents elements such as tension, character development, and conflict-and-resolution, providing elements which are a natural attraction to the human nature. As humans, there is something about a good story that attracts us like a magnet. Thus, story is indeed a powerful way of communicating truth. Great novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich demonstrate this. By the same token, and by contrast, story can be used in a destructive manner as well.
Jesus, the greatest teacher and greatest storyteller of all time, used story as a powerful means of communicating truth. The theologians refer to these stories as parables. Christ, the creator of all, knows us best of all. And he understood and understands the power of story as a means of communicating lessons full of truth.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
My second novel in the Pacific Rim Series, Fire of the Raging Dragon, is due out in November. After that, the third novel in that series, tentatively entitled Cape Horn, is due out in 2013. Both of these novels are under contract with Zondervan Publishing Company. I’m also very excited about a project I’ve just finished writing and submitted to the publisher called the Home School/Christian School Guide to the Navy Justice Series. This an educational guide that follows my bestselling novel Treason, chapter-by-chapter, which teaches about various constitutional concepts, including the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The guide also teaches kids about the American legal system, and is approached from a conservative, Biblical worldview and is designed to teach young people how to defend constitutional concepts as espoused by the founding fathers. I am passionate about this project, as there is nothing on the market like it.