2006-03-23 / News

60 years later and he still hates garlic

By Phoebe Livingston

Phoebe Livingston and her father, Bruce, at East Ferry. Phoebe Livingston and her father, Bruce, at East Ferry. My father is a retired Marine Corps colonel who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. He has many "sea stories" from his 30 years of service, and one of his favorite ones, tells his reason for hating garlic to this day:

"Sixty years ago I was in North China in the middle of the winter guarding the coal trains and the coal mines from the Communists.

"Marines rode on the narrow gauge trains loaded with coal from the mines in Tang Shan to the city of Tientsin. We would run along the tops of the gondola cars full of coal to make sure the Communists would not climb aboard when the cars slowed down climbing a hill.

"The temperature was below zero and the winds were right out of the Gobi Dessert. So we would warm up in the locomotive at the front and run all the way back to the little caboose to warm up again. In the caboose, there was a pot belly stove that was red hot used for cooking and heating purposes.

"There were four Marines and a threeor four-man Chinese train crew. And you must remember that the Marines had not showered for quite a while and the same was probably true about the train crew.

"As we were cooking and eating our C-rations, the train crew would cook their food and eat raw garlic like apples. The smell inside that caboose was so bad it was beyond belief. As far as I was concerned, I could deal with all the other smells, but not the smell of the garlic. At times, the smell of the garlic would be so bad that I would volunteer to go out in the sub-zero weather and take extra turns just to get away from the smell. So, still to this day I cannot stand garlic in any form and always can tell if garlic has been put in the food or if someone has been eating garlic."

This story not only tells the history of my father's hatred of garlic, but also represents the enriching experiences the U.S. Marine Corps had to offer. My father is living proof of the fact that the Marine Corps is a whole lot more than a military force. The Marine Corps can be a career for some, like my father, or at least an experience that helps young men and women become more aware of the world, which in turn prepares them for a successful life. Through this old tale, one can see that living in another country and learning about that culture through its people is something that stays with you forever. This is just one of my father's many "sea stories" that are not only from China, but from all over the world.

The number of veterans from these wars are getting fewer every day, and with them go their stories. So next time you see a veteran in the Deli or around town, ask them if they'd be willing to share a "sea story" with you.

And even if they have the time or not, showing them that respect and interest means alot to them. The stories can sometimes be inspirational, enlighting, or just plain funny, which makes them a good time for everyone.

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