By Samuel Martin Kier
|In the Korean War, the typical young American soldier was not motivated
by a desire to save the world from communism; his objective was to earn
thirty-six points that would allow him to return home.
Thirty-Six Points blends military history and character-drivin fiction, as experienced by the novel's four principal characters; a pre-med student from Stanford University, a career soldier from Detroit, a corporal from a Greek battalion fighting alongside the Americans, and a Chinese school teacher who was coerced to fight in the Chinese Army alongside the North Koreans. The Novel begins in 1950, before the United States became actively involved in the war. It ends with the aftermath of the war, the survivors having returned to their homes. In the epilogue, one of them revisits their basic training base at Ft. Ord years later, and compares the Korean and Vietnam eras.
Author Samuel Martin Kier, like the protagonist Ben Stewart, was a Stanford student when he was drafted into the army. He trained at Ft. Ord and was assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment. One of his assignments during his period of service with the unit was to update the regimental history, using information from the command reports, battalion journals and after-action reports. Thirty-Six Points is a novel, but it also tells the story ot the 5th Regimental Combat team from November 1952 to July 1953, as it moved between the Punchbowl in eastern Korea and the Chorwan Valley in the central part of the country.