The tiger can't preserve the memory of the bombing missions my father flew.
Its odd rippling surface doesn't correspond to the landscape of North Korea, terrain my father knew by heart—which had once saved his life: on one mission his plane malfunctioned, and he'd had to find his way back to his base with no instruments, no radio, and fuel fumes filling his cockpit.
The United States had sustained more than 320,000 casualties in the First World War, including over 53,000 killed in action, over 63,000 non-combat related deaths, mainly due to the influenza pandemic of 1918, and 204,000 wounded.
In less than two years the United States had established new motorized and combat forces, equipped them with all types of ordnance including machine guns and tanks, and created an entirely new support organization capable of moving supplies thousands of miles in a timely manner.
He kept it on a shelf in our family den, where for years when I was a kid it roared down at us—unappeasably furious (or so I always thought) at being trapped up there on its high perch, with no company except some painted beer mugs and a set of purple glass swizzle sticks. Probably my brother and I were having a skirmish and a shot went wild.
I thought my father would be furious, but he didn't say a word.
Pershing and his staff soon realized how ill-prepared the United States was to transport large numbers of soldiers and necessary equipment to the front, where supplies, rations, equipment, and trained soldiers were all in short supply.
Since even the transport ships needed to bring American troops to Europe were scarce, the army pressed into service cruise ships, seized German ships, and borrowed Allied ships to transport American soldiers from New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.
In these two military operations, Allied forces recovered more than two hundred square miles of French territory from the German army.
By the time Germany signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the American Expeditionary Forces had evolved into a modern, combat-tested army recognized as one of the best in the world.