A bittersweet wander down memory lane is what awaits readers of Butterfly Wish by D Davidson and R Marcano. Fifty years ago, two tough young men from New York were stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea. Although the conflict was long over, the experience of living in a country where life was valued so little and almost anything was available, for the right price, would teach them much about life and even love amongst the B Girls of the hovel of a village that lined the Air Force Base. Both men experienced the comaraderie of belonging to a Unit but also the guilt and loss of living somewhere where they were neither wanted nor liked, except for their money. As seventy-year olds, Manny and Shane return seeking forgiveness, redemption or perhaps even some sort of reconciliation with those they had left behind.
I found this story to be very touching in places, but equally harsh and somewhat scathing of the attitude of US troops who were stationed in South Korea and one could imagine, by extension, to those who served later in Vietnam or were stationed in Japan, the Philippines or other Asian countries. The attitude of the US forces to the locals was incredibly stereotypical and most seemed unable to see beyond the thoughts of getting drunk and getting laid. Both Manny and Shane were good men at heart, but even they fell prey, at times, to treating the local women with disdain. One thing became clear, however, their brief experience in Korea would shape these two men's future. I enjoyed the writing and the frank retelling of events as they actually were without any attempts to gloss over or try to justify the horrors faced by the civilian population. It was hard hitting and yet deeply touching at times. In Butterfly Wish, Davidson and Mercano have brought alive something which very few of us would ever experience. An excellent job by the authors and a fascinating story.