Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Main Line of Resistance

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

Today begins Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. My heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who have lost a loved one in a war or have suffered due to injured or psychologically scarred friends or family members. Pepper Adams, for his part, saw plenty of suffering in Korea and knew musicians who were killed there. In fact, Korea was such a horrific experience for him that he chose not to discuss it when asked. Bettter not to bring up those memories and re-experience the trauma. Can you imagine how much different jazz history would be if Pepper, Frank Foster, Tommy Flanagan, Elvin Jones or Bill Evans, to name just a few, were killed in Korea?

Regarding my continuing research into the Korean War and Pepper's role in the U.S. Army, I heard back from Al Gould, who was in Pepper's platoon. He said that their 10th Special Services gigs on 4-9 March 1953 and 16-20 March 1953 were in "forward areas" near the MLR (Main Line of Resistance). "We played shows within 500 yards back of the MLR," said Gould. "USO Civilian Shows played 20 miles back of the MLR," he said. 

While stationed in Korea, Adams took many photographs that were developed as transparency slides. He marked each of his boxes of slides with dates and general locations. A few were marked "LP," a term unknown to me or Al Gould. Thanks to Gould, he researched this with a retired 2-Star General. "LP" refers to Listening Post. "A Listening Post was very dangerous duty, quite often slightly in front of the MLR," said Gould. "We would not have played loud shows there with the enemy all around us," he said.

For context, here's the brief but very informative Wikipedia article on the MLR:

"Main Line of Resistance, or MLR is a military term describing the most important defensive position of an army facing an opposing force over an extended front. It does not consist of one trench or line of pillboxes, but rather a system, of varying degrees of complexity, of fighting positions and obstacles to enemy advance. The MLR first came into use during World War I, after fighting became stalemated across northern France. The French and British on one side, and the Germans on the other, built elaborate fortified defensive positions. These were characterized by extensive use of barbed wire, entrenchments and underground bunkers to protect their troops from enemy fire, and defeat enemy attacks. The depth of such positions could range from several hundred to several thousand meters, and in a few cases much farther. If the position was held in great depth, a screening line of strongpoints and fortified outposts -- designed to slow and disorganize an enemy attack -- might be constructed forward of the MLR, and a reserve line built behind it. The most famous and elaborate MLR of World War I was the Siegfried Line (part of the longer German Hindenburg Line), across parts of northern France. During World War II, in which combat was relatively fluid, the term 'Main Line of Resistance,' was used less often, and the positions the term described were usually less deep and complex than in World War I. However, there were exceptions, including the French Maginot Linethe German Atlantic Wall and Westwall (Siegfried Line to the Allies), as well as the Soviet defenses at the Battle of KurskAfter the Korean War became static in 1951, MLR described the defensive positions of the U.N. Eighth Army, a series of trenches and bunkers extending east to west across the Korean peninsula."

                             (Photo courtesy of Carla Lehmeier. (c) Carla Lehmeier)

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