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Dentist pens novel based on Korean War experience

Dentist pens novel based on Korean War experience

Williamsburg, Va.—Country singer Hank Snow kicks off Dr. Raymond Flanders’ book.

In the author’s acknowledgement, Dr. Flanders first sticks with the original lyrics to Mr. Snow’s “I’m Moving On,” a number one song in 1950.

“That big eight-wheeler rollin’ down the track
Means your true lovin’ daddy ain’t comin’ back
I’m movin’ on, I’ll soon be gone.”

But then he gives the reader an amended version.

The men of the 24th Division of the Army crafted the second set of lyrics while they were serving in The Korean War around the time the song was released. 

“You hear the rumble of running feet
The 24th Division is in full retreat
We’re moving on, we’re moving on.”

Image: Loud and clear: Dr. Ray Flanders mans a radio while serving in the Korean War.
Loud and clear: Dr. Ray Flanders mans a radio while serving in the Korean War.
The creation of the song is a true story. Dr. Flanders should know—he was among the men in the 24th Division, serving in The Korean Pipeline from 1950-51. It was an experience that inspired his novel of the same name, “The Korean Pipeline,” which mixes historical facts with fictional characters to tell a story set during The Korean War.

The book follows three enlisted men recalled to active duty and sent to Korea. It also contains historical information on the war, various generals and events that took place.

“The Korean War started so abruptly that the United States had to quickly mobilize large numbers of enlisted men to be sent to the Korean theatre of war,” Dr. Flanders writes. “This mobilization and subsequent funneling of troops from civilian status to the front line in Korea in a matter of weeks became known as the Korean Pipeline.”

It took Dr. Flanders, 82, three years to write the book, getting the idea after he retired in 2007.

“I started thinking, I was there during the first year of the war and I felt I’d like to write something about it,” said Dr. Flanders.

After graduating high school in upstate New York in 1946, Dr. Flanders enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Italy. He returned and enrolled in the pre-dentistry program at Colgate University, later transferring to the University of Miami.

After being recalled to serve in the Korean War in 1950, Dr. Flanders went to dental school at the University of Maryland, graduating in 1959.

Image: Dr. Ray Flanders
Dentist and author: It took Dr. Ray Flanders, 82, three years to write “The Korean Pipeline.”
But he hadn’t had enough of military life. Dr. Flanders went back to the Army and worked as a dental officer in Germany and Alaska before going into private practice in Maryland then working at the Virginia State Health Department until the mid 1970s. He then served as a dentist with Project HOPE, an international health foundation, in Brazil, Grenada, Honduras and Trinidad.

During his military career, Dr. Flanders earned the Korean War Victory Medal and the Bronze Service Star.

In 1978, Dr. Flanders went back to school, this time at the University of Michigan for a master’s degree in public health. He was named the director of the State of Illinois Health Department dental programs in 1985, serving in that position until 1997. At the same time, Dr. Flanders was a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois-Chicago dental school from 1990-1997.

Not satisfied with full retirement, Dr. Flanders worked as a dental consultant for Aetna insurance from 1999-2007.

In the meantime, he’d been writing, successfully at that.

He published a book of short stories titled “Murder on the Sea Wolf and Other Stories” in 2006. The lead story is based on a trip he took in his youth with a group of young men who were sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat. Dr. Flanders joined them in the Canary Islands and sailed to Trinidad before heading back to college. The TV show “Bold Journey, which aired in the late 1950s, featured the trip on one of their segments, Dr. Flanders said.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing; having published many articles in professional journals. But it wasn’t until after I retired that I became interested in writing fiction and writing about the Korean War,” Dr. Flanders said. “Yes, I am interested in writing another novel and plan to start the writing and research regimen later this year.”