Christina A. Sharik
In Memory of my Father, Capt. Robert H. Phillips,
CBI (China, Burma, India) Theater,
Bronze Star Recipient for the Salween River Gorge CampaignI wish that you could talk with me
and tell me where you’d been
when you were in old China
and fought at the Salween.
Up and down the River’s gorge
leading Chinese men
It must look so different now;
Would you go back again?
If I gave you a ticket
to places you were bloodied
would you go with me and show me?
Would your memories be muddied?
I’m trying to find the place you fought
in heat, and rain and mud;
when your uniform was sweat-stained
and your shirt was smudged with blood…
when you fought and killed an enemy
and brought his letters home;
Where you swore to never kill again
Where you felt so all alone.
I’ve found a picture of the steppes
along the Salween Gorge
Do all soldiers dream the way you did?
Were their hearts like iron forged?
If I went to China’s River now
and stood on her steep bank;
would I find a piece of your soul there?
Who would I have to thank
for the strange ways you reacted,
for all the nightmares that we shared;
for the man you hid from all of us
for the way you left us scared.
I wish I’d known the man you were
before you met the River
whose current carried you away
and that man was lost forever.
©Copyright August 2001 by Christina A. Sharik
This is very very exciting. I wrote this poem for my dad about his Salween Campaign (China). This lady’s father died in the Campaign and she is going to Kunming to make a documentary on the Salween Gorge Campaign. She asks permission to read the poem and present a copy to the Kunming, China Library. She leaves July 1.
My brother, Bob, responded to this news with:
“Chris, congrats on the china linkup……
and he penned the poem, “War” ~ ©Copyright June 2005 by Robert H. Phillips
SALWEEN RIVER CAMPAIGN
A woman named Barbara Hyde contacted me in June, asking if she could read a poem I had written for my father, called “Dear Dad” about his participation in the Salween River Gorge Campaign in China. Basically, the war over there was to open the Burma Road into China. Barbara’s father died in the Campaign and was buried in Yunnan Province, China.
At any rate, of course, I gave permission, and this is the info on Wen, the woman who first contacted Barbara McMurrey Hyde. My poem was read at several ceremonies, then translated into Chinese, framed and it is now hanging in the War Museum in Yunnan Province, China.
Today I received a parcel from Barbara, enclosing some river rocks and soil from the edge of the Salween, together with a number of photographs from the trip. I am thrilled to have participated in a small way in this endeavor, and to have a tangible bit of China to hold in my hand is an amazing thing……
September 8, 2005
Shortly after the completion of the Salween Campaign in Yunnan Province, China, the city of Tengchong built a memorial for those who sacrificed their lives during the Campaign. A special tombstone was erected for the sacrificed soldiers of the US Army who came to assist the Chinese. However, only the name of one soldier was engraved on the stone due to the scarcity of information.
Over the years, the people of Tengchong have wanted to know who those American soldiers were. A special search was launched in late 2002 by a joint effort of Chinese historians, Mr. John Easterbrook, the grandson of General Stilwell, and China-Burma-India veterans. With the help of the Hoover Institute and the US Military History Center, 19 American soldiers were identified as the American casualties of the Salween Campaign. In September of 2004, the city of Tengchong erected 19 new tombstones for those American soldiers with their full names. The former president, George Bush, sent a letter to express his appreciation for this effort.
The discovery of the 19 full names was not the end of this effort as the members of the search team believed the family members of sacrificed soldiers should know that the Chinese people never forgot their beloved ones who sacrificed their lives for China. The daughters of Major McMurrey were located first, and soon several family members of other soldiers were found too. They were informed about this effort.
Now, a special documentary about the Salween Campaign is being produced in which Chinese and American military cooperation during the Campaign is included. The family members of some US Salween Campaign soldiers are invited to visit Yunnan in early July, 2005, to retrace their fathers’ route and share their feelings of friendship between the American and Chinese peoples forged sixty years ago.
Wen Jiang was born in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. She earned a BA and MS from Beijing Forestry University and a PhD from the University of Illinois. She was the organizer and leader of the Yunnan TV Network’s tour to interview China-Burma-India veterans for the documentary Over the Hump in the fall of 2002. She was a member of the Chinese delegation to the conference The Memory of History in Washington, D.C. in October, 2002. She was guest host of a TV special by the Yunnan TV Network about the planned raising of a P-40 fighter plane from Dian Lake, Kunming, China in 2003. The raising is said to happen in 2005 and the documentary will be broadcast at the same time. She is a member of the project to search for the names and family members of the American soldiers who died during the Salween Campaign of 1944 and a liaison person of the Yunnan WWII Memorial Park Preparation Committee. She is the author of A Search of 60 Years in Huaxia Cultural Geography (in Chinese) and in China’s Ethnic Groups (in English)
I have also posted a letter to the Editor to the e-zine, Talking Proud.
Christina: September 10, 2005
Dear Ms Christina Sharik,
Thanks for writing. And thanks for your father’s contribution to the peace we have now.
I’m just wondering whether we could have your poem for your father and publish your letter and the poem in our website. We hope that more and more people can learn something from the past and value the peace.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Dear Miss Chen:
Thank you for answering my e-mail. I am so pleased.
Here is the poem about my father, Captain Robert H. Phillips. My father had struggles with bad dreams for a long time after the war. He also did many drawings and paintings based on China. I am attaching one that is a pencil drawing of the mountains in the rain – I call it “China Rain”. The poem was read by Barbara McMurray Hyde in July when she and her sister went to Kunming for a ceremony honoring the fallen American soldiers – her father died during the Salween River (Nu) Campaign. Here is also a photograph of me.
I await hearing from you, and I thank you for asking me for the poem.
September 14, 2005
This poem and some information behind it is now proudly displayed on the website,
“China Through a Lens”
Here are the links for the English version of the documentary. Hope your son will like it.
I go to China every year, mostly during summers. We are working on a book about our Salween Campaign project. Now, it is in the phase of looking for publisher. Will keep you updated.
January 7, 2010