Captain Robert H. Phillips served in China with the American Y Forces in Kunming, Yunnan Province. He was in the Salween River Gorge Campaigns.
According to his daughter, Christina Sharik, Phillips had struggles with bad dreams for a long time after the war. He also did many drawings and paintings based on China. The following is a pencil drawing of the mountains in the rain.
Sharik wrote a poem for her father, and Barbara McMurray Hyde read it in China 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 (called Nujiang River in China) Campaign.
In Memory of my Father,
Capt. Robert H. Phillips,
CBI (China, Burma, India) Theater,
Bronze Star Recipient for the Salween River Gorge campaign
I 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.
(China.org.cn September 19, 2005)