Cade Curtis
Fictional Character
The Hot War
POD: November, 1950
Appearance(s): Bombs Away
Type of Appearance: Direct POV
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1931
Religion: Catholicism
Occupation: Soldier
Military Branch: United States Army

Cade Curtis (b. 1931) was an American soldier. He served in the Korean War before and after it was folded into World War III.

Curtis was born in Alabama but grew up in Tennessee.[1] His family lived near Knoxville. On November 23, 1950, (Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.) Curtis, a second lieutenant, and his men were making their way to Hungnam after Red China's intervention on the side of North Korea. A Chinese surprise attack effectively cut off three U.S. divisions from Hungnam (including Curtis), and began systematically destroying them.[2] While Curtis survived the initial slaughter, he was cut off from other U.S. troops, and was trapped in North Korea.

Curtis was on the run for over a month, scavenging whatever he could find and evading Chinese patrols as he moved south, killing as he needed to.[3] Finally, in January 1951, Curtis wandered into what he thought was an abandoned village. While foraging, he was taken by surprise by three Koreans. When crossed himself and began a prayer, they crossed themselves as well, revealing themselves to be Catholics as well. With little bits of Latin, they told Curtis that North Korea's leader, Kim Il-sung, had persecuted Christians harshly. The three Koreans brought Curtis into a sort of underground railroad of Christians.[4] With their help, Curtis was able to make his way south again.[5] He finally got back to American lines in February 1951, well after ground war phase of World War III began in Europe, leaving the Korean conflict a backwater.[6]

Curtis received a promotion to first lieutenant, a bronze star, and command of a company. His superiors also took careful notes about the route he took from the Chosin Reservoir to the UN lines.[7] He came to rely on Staff Sergeant Lou Klein, a WWII vet. While Europe continued to be the center of focus for most of the world, Chinese and North Korean troops continued to press south, with the Korean War looking more and more like World War I.[8] Nonetheless, the U.S. military was able to deliver a regiment's worth of Pershing tanks in advance of an attack near Chongju. The battle proved to be a success for the UN.[9] Another engagement in April saw Curtis improve his combat and leaderships skills as he and his men held back a column of T-34s until air support could do enough damage to force a retreat.[10] After that assault, the war quieted down, with both sides blaring propaganda at each other over loudspeakers. Curtis noticed that periodically, Red troops surrendered themselves. His commanding officer, Major Jeff Walpole explained that the U.S. used a message created by a psy-ops colonel named Linebarger, an officer with substantial clout and fluency in Chinese. The Americans used the Chinese words for "love" and "virtue" and "humanity", which when taken together also sounded like the English words for "I surrender", allowing the Reds to surrender without losing face.[11]

The month of May saw the snow melt, and an increase in shelling attacks from the Chinese. Curtis was painfully aware of the long logistics chain between Korea and the U.S. after the Soviets atom bombed several critical U.S. positions.[12] In May 1951, Curtis and Klein learned from battalion CO Major Jeff Walpole that the U.S. had atom bombed Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk, two key cities on the Trans-Siberian railroad. While Walpole was convinced that this would lead to a slowdown of the supplies coming into the Chinese and North Korean armies, Curtis had his doubts.[13] Shortly after Walpole made that announcement, their position came under shelling, and Walpole was injured in the leg. Curtis provided initial first aid.[14]

June, 1951 saw Curtis and his company still bogged down south of Chongju, with the Americans and the Chinese intermittently taking shots at one another.[15] In July, he and PFC Frank Sanderson used bazookas to destroy a Red Chinese Maxim gun. Both survived and returned to their own lines safely.[16]

As a reward, he was granted leave in Pusan, a city which was heavily influenced by, and thus catered to, American culture. After a pleasant time, he was driven towards Chongju. His timing was incredibly fortuitous; when he and his driver were ten to fifteen miles northwest of Pusan, the city was destroyed by a Soviet atomic bomb. Curtis and his were far enough away that they were not caught in the explosion. For lack of a better idea, Curtis suggested, but did not order, that his driver head back to try to help in Pusan. Not long after that, the Soviets deployed an atomic bomb on his company's position near Chongju. In addition to morning his men, Curtis also realized that the American line had a large hole now, and wondered if the Red Chinese and North Koreans would press an attack. In the meantime, he and the driver arrived and did what they could in Pusan.[17]

The Reds did indeed pour through the hole the Soviet's had created.[18] Curtis received a promotion to captain, and was assigned to hold a ridge line between Chongju and Pusan in order to defend Kaeryong.[19] The Reds' initial push was stopped thanks in part to an aerial bombardment by Corsairs.[20] Realizing that holding their position was more important, Curtis opted not to advance. That night, their position was hit by Shturmoviks. Curtis was not hurt.[21] During this engagement, Curtis earned the respect of one of his second lieutenants, Howie Sturgis, who was actually older than Curtis and had been a sergeant until recently. When Sturgis learned that Curtis had survived the Chosen Reservoir disaster, he realized that Curtis might know what he was doing.[22]

Within a few weeks, the front lines were so bad, that the U.S. Army recruited South Korean soldiers to fill things out. Curtis, remembering how badly the Republic's soldiers had fought when the war broke out, was not enthusiastic at first. Howard Sturgis shared these concerns. The fact that many of the South Korean officers used a model of discipline patterned on one the Japanese had used was further cause for alarm. When Curtis approached South Korean captain Pak Ho-san to suggest that the South Koreans integrate in with the Americans, Pak Ho-san declined, determined to prove that he and men could fight.[23]

That night, the Chinese launched an what was intended to be a surprise attack. However, one American was able to fire off a burst before he was killed, alerting his comrades, who launched flares and met the Chinese, who ultimately retreated. The ROK soldiers proved their mettle. However, when Curtis when to congratulate Pak Ho-san, Pak Ho-san met Curtis half way, and attempted to present Curtis with the decapitated dead of a Chinese soldier. Curtis was horrified, and Pak was surprised by how soft Curtis was.[24]

In the weeks that followed, Curtis grew increasingly disgusted with the way Pak and his non-coms beat on their subordinates. He finally resolved to intervene the next time he saw Pak being abusive to one of his men, a scheme Howie Sturgis counseled against.[25] When Curtis saw Pak upbraiding a soldier named Chun Won-ung for having a muddy uniform (from the muddy trench), he ordered Pak to leave the man alone. He also pointed his PPSh at Pak for good measure. When Pak broke off, and Curtis had Chun join his unit.[26] He was summoned to HQ in Kaeryong the next day. After standing his ground with Brigadier General Randolph Hackworth, who saw that Curtis was not impressed by threats of court martial or prison, Curtis was sent back to the line without being punished.[27]

In February 1952, the line had stabilized again with the arrival of winter. Chun Won-ung had become "Jimmy" to the unit.[28] Unfortunately, with the spring thaw, the Reds advanced and successfully took Kaeryeong in April 1952.[29] Curtis and his regiment soon found themselves south of the city, again holding the lines, hoping for help to come. Sturgis was promoted to lieutenant, although he still preferred to act like a non-com. Jimmy seemed to have developed an unhealthy affection Curtis, leaving him to wonder what would happen if U.S. troops pulled out of Korea.[30]


  1. Bombs Away, pg. 2, ebook.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 3-5.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 29-32.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 32-33.
  5. Ibid, pgs. 82-86.
  6. Ibid., pgs. 125-128.
  7. Ibid., pgs. 201-202.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid., pg. 204-205.
  10. Ibid., pgs. 273-277.
  11. Ibid., pgs. 311-315.
  12. Ibid., pgs. 357-360.
  13. Ibid., pg. 382.
  14. Ibid., pgs. 385-386.
  15. Fallout, loc. 197-268.
  16. Ibid., loc. 1141-1200.
  17. Ibid., loc. 2152-2213.
  18. Ibid., loc. 2302.
  19. Ibid., loc. 2503.
  20. Ibid, loc. 2516-2530.
  21. Ibid., loc. 2562.
  22. Ibid., loc, 2530-2562.
  23. Ibid., loc. 3371-3422.
  24. Ibid., loc. 3434-3446.
  25. Ibid, loc. 4408-4419.
  26. Ibid., loc. 4432-4444.
  27. Ibid., loc. 4425-4482.
  28. Ibid., loc. 5157-5231.
  29. Ibid., loc. 5535.
  30. Ibid., loc. 5916-5989.

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