My Father: Prisoner of War

Author Catherine Madison recounts the story of how her father was thrust into the Korean conflict and how he became a prisoner of war.

| May 2016

  • Madison's dual memoir offers a powerful, intimate perspective on the suppressed grief and thwarted love that forever alter a family when a wounded soldier brings his war home.
    Photo by John Gomez/Fotolia
  • "The War Came Home With Him" by Catherine Madison recounts the story of her father "Doc" Boysen's time as a POW. Captured in Korea, the experience forever changed his perception of the world as well as the treatment of his family. Men who refused to eat starved; his children would clean their plates. Men who were weak died; his children would develop character. Madison details the impact the war and her father's incarceration had throughout her life.
    Cover courtesy University of Minnesota Press

The War Came Home with Him: A Daughter's Memoir (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) by Catherine Madison, tells the stories of two survivors of one man's war: a father who withstood a prison camp's unspeakable inhumanity an a daughter who withstood the residual cruelty that came home with him. During his years as a POW in North Korea, "Doc" Boysen endured hardships he never intended to pass along, especially to his family. Piecing together the horrible tale within the pages of a hidden cache of documents, Madison returns to a childhood troubled by his secret torment to consider, in a new light, the telling moments in their complex relationship.

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"Doc, you got a phone call.”

My father’s name was Alexander. His family called him Lexy. My mother called him Pete, a nickname that stuck after his childhood friends in Minnesota started calling each other by their fathers’ names; his father was Peter. His buddies called him Doc.



It was June 25, and my mother was calling from her childhood home in Boonsboro, Maryland. I was eight months old, and we had been staying with her parents since my father left for Yokohama on May 15. A captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, he had volunteered for a temporary duty assignment there, which paid per diem rates in addition to his regular pay. He figured he could live frugally and bank the extra to help us get out of debt.

Doc took the phone.