이 책은 정규 육사 졸업생들(11기부터 27기까지)의 베트남전 참전기를 영어로 쓴 국내외 최초의 책이다. 1964년 9월부터 1973년 3월까지 8년 6개월간 지속된 전쟁 기간 동안 상기 졸업생 전체의 약 70%에 달하는 2,069명이 대한민국 건국 이래 최초의 해외원정에 참가하여 원정군의 핵심으로 활약하였다. 이 책은 이들 육사 출신 청년 장교들이 왜 그 전쟁에 참전하였고 어떻게 싸웠으며 무엇을 보았고 어떤 교훈을 얻었으며 그러한 경험이 자신의 삶, 특히 오랜 군 생활에 어떤 영향을 끼쳤는지를 사실적으로 묘사하고 있다.
이 책은 군사용어가 많이 포함된 영어로 쓰여 있어 한국의 일반 독자들이 쉽사리 접근하기는 어렵겠지만 군 장교들에게는 교실에서 배웠던 군사영어가 실제 야전과 전쟁터에서 어떻게 사용되는지를 볼 수 있는 살아 있는 군사영어 학습자료로도 활용될 수 있을 것이다. 또한 이 책은 전쟁 기간 동안 함께 싸운 미군과의 관계에도 주목하고 있는데 당시 양국 군대가 서로를 어떻게 생각했는지, 그리고 전쟁터에서 경험한 상호간의 관계가 향후 어떻게 발전해야 될지에 대한 많은 시사점도 발견할 수 있을 것이다. 80여 년 육사 역사의 중요한 한 시대를 기록한 이 책을 시작으로, 육사 졸업생들의 말하지 못한 전쟁경험이 계속적으로 발굴되어 더욱 객관적이고 종합적이며 진실된 참전기가 나오는 데 하나의 좋은 길잡이가 될 수 있기를 기대한다.
A Brief History of KMA
The history of Korea Military Academy goes back to 1946 when it was founded. It was a year after the liberation from Imperial Japan in 1945 and four years before the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. The Korean War divided the KMA into two different institutions: KMA before the war from 1946 to 1950 and KMA after the war from 1951 to the present. The former KMA was a short-term institution, and the latter was a four-year collegial one. The former’s educational cycle ranged from one month to six months for the First to Tenth Classes. The latter started with the Eleventh Class (Class of 1955), who entered the Academy on January 1, 1952, when KMA was normalized as an institution of higher learning, modeled on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The five years from August 1945 to June 1950 were a transition period in the formation of the Korean Army and its Military Academy, the most turbulent period ever in the history of 20th-century Korea.
During the colonial period(1910-1945), numerous patriotic young Koreans fled to Manchuria and other parts of China. They fought against Imperial Japan for independence, some as members of the Chinese army and others as members of their military organizations, including the Korean Liberation Army. Several hundred Koreans graduated from the Huangpu Military Academy of China, established by Sun Zhong Shan in 1924, and were commissioned as Chinese army officers and assigned to its units. Many other young Korean men were forcefully mobilized for Imperial Japan’s war effort, most as enlisted men and some as officers who graduated from its Army Academy. These Koreans returned home after Japan’s surrender and became the human resources for building the national armed forces.
The project of founding the Korean army with all these people from home and abroad was carried out by the U.S. Army Military Government, the then-official ruling body on this land. Its commander was Lieutenant General John R. Hodge, the U.S. Army 24th Corps, who landed at Incheon on September 8, 1945, to disarm the surrendered Japanese forces remaining in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. General Hodge felt a strong need to create the Korean army in preparation for the official Korean government soon to be established, together with a military institution to produce officers who would become its leaders. And he founded the South Joseon National Defense Constabulary Academy on May 1, 1946, the precursor of the present Korea Military Academy, the bastion of national defense. This date is observed as the founding day of KMA.