Monthly Archives: October 2013

Korean War (24)

1952

F-86 aircraft in Korea

F-86 aircraft in Korea

1 January, with the new year, the 1st Marine Division continued to occupy and defend their sector, but 2 bombs managed to be dropped on Kimpo airfield and damaged 16 wing-tip tanks (used for in-flight refueling) and a F-86.  The approximate position of the Korean battle line was about 5 miles south-east of Kosong on the east coast to 10 miles southeast of Kaesong in the west.  This was the 319th consecutive day of naval bombardment at Wonsan.

The Fast Carrier Task Force – 77 carried out Operation Moonlight Sonata, which took advantage of the full moon to inflict air strikes on enemy trains.  Five 2-plane groups traveled over 50 mile stretches of railroad tracks to stop enemy locomotives and locate others for future attacks.

Soviet-made Yak-9

Soviet-made Yak-9

4 January, the FEAF (Far East Air Force) reported that 100 to 150 Yak-9 fighter planes were spotted near the front lines at 0301 hours.  This was the first time enemy propeller planes were seen in such strength near the front and this indicated they were beefing up their ability to make night attacks.  The 1st Corps was reporting attacks on their left flank on Kimpo Peninsula coming from Kangwha Island.  Cruisers were ordered to move in and give support.  The HMS Belfast was at the entrance of the Han River and radioed that other ships should move into that position.

6 January, the 8th Army was relieved from ground defense of the islands on the east and west coasts (north of the 38th), where special Air Force equipment was based; it would now be under CTF-95 (Commander of Task Force – 95).  The Amphibious Redeployment Group (4 APAs, 2 LSDs and 8 LSTs) began an interchanging of the 40th Infantry Division and 24th Division between Yokohama and Inchon.

7th Fleet patch

7th Fleet patch

9 January, a conference was held on the USS Wisconsin to form the West Coast Island Defense Element TE – 95.15 with the headquarters at Paengnyong-do.  The 7th Fleet and the Wisconsin organized Marine detachments capable of defending any of the islands.  Sunwi-do was now controlled by the enemy.  The east coast from Kansong to Sonjin would be swept once every 2 weeks.  The following day, the island of Changnin-do was in enemy hands.

Task Force - 77 patch

Task Force – 77 patch

11 January, MGeneral John T. Seden assumed command of the 1st Marine Division’s Operation Derail went into affect with 11 key railroad targets by air and/or ship.  The USS Gregory and USS Mackenzie had a battle with onshore artillery batteries, hitting the enemy Command Post.  The Thailand ships RTN Prasae and Tachin started in their first escort service with the USS Brisbee.  Ground forces enlisted air support to attack gun crews on the Amgak Peninsula, their targets were hit.

ROK soldiers

ROK soldiers

18 January, the city of Wonsan was, at this point, in its 12th month of bombardment.  The USS Halsey Powell had its own operation called ‘Chicken Stealer.’  She sent her small boat in close to Sam-He to spot targets.  They damaged 18 jetties, filled numerous boats with Scrapnel. completely gutted a warehouse and engaged gun crews.  Three days later, intelligence reported that they were aware of a Soviet submarine in the Chongjin area.

USS "Consulation"

USS “Consolation”

23 January, the North Korean 15th Division was relieved by the 89th and 90th regiments.  Intelligence reports noted that the enemy guerrilla movements were more cautious than usual, but mortar and artillery fire was on the rise.  West coast evacuation of the islands was halted due to the discovery of a typhus outbreak.  The next day, the USS Consolation completed her tests.  This was the only hospital ship equipped with a helicopter pad and the wounded could now be flown from the front lines directly to the ship.  On the east, ROK troops landed to perform attacks on railroads, tunnels and bridges.  By the end of this month, Marine Fighter Squadron 312’s CP was moved back to Itami, Japan.

 

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

David Aubrey – Sun City West, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Bruce Byram – Phoenix, AZ, US Air Force (Ret. after 22 years), MSgt.

Peter Ciadella – Niagara Falls, NY & Scottsdale, AZ; US Navy, USS Enterprise, Vietnam

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Verlie Eller – Fannin County, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Paul Gitter – NYC, NY & Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Philip Knight – Middletown, OH & Coral Springs, FL; US Army, Korea

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Correspondents’ View – 4

press photo release of Gen. Dean

press photo release of Gen. Dean

Night Owl has told us in previous comments that the Communist reporters could often be a more valuable source of information and in the following article, published 24 December 1951 in the New York Journal America, his statement is demonstrated.

Saga of Suffering and Survival:

Gen. Dean Foxed Reds for Month

By Rafael Steinberg

International News Service Staff Correspondent

PANMUNJOM, Korea, Dec. 24 – The incredible story of Maj. Gen. William F. Dean’s survival and capture after being cut off from his troops in the thick of battle was related today by a Communist newsman at Panmunjom.

Wilfred Burchett, correspondent for the Paris newspaper CE Soir, who said he interviewed Dean in a North Korean prison camp two days ago, gave Allied newsmen the drama-packed story of the heroic American officer.

Burchett told how the former commander of the 24th Div. survived 20 days without food; how he wondered through North Korea eluding capture for a month; how he had saved a bullet to kill himself rather than be captured and how he was twice betrayed to the reds.

Allied newsmen agreed Burchett’s story, although containing propaganda, was not a hoax.  Burchett said he interviewed Dean in his “prison cell” in the North Korean capitol of Pyongang.  His reference to a prison cell indicated Dean is held in solitary confinement.

The saga of Gen. Den began July 25, 1950, when a pitifully small band of American soldiers were fighting to slow down a powerful North Korean army crashing into Taejon in South Korea.  Dean returned to his command post to find escape routes cut by communist road blocks.

Dean left his jeep to encourage his outnumbered troops not to surrender.  He lost the jeep, hopped on a tractor and then ran up against the stone wall of red road blocks.

Gen. William F. Dean

Gen. William F. Dean

With a wounded aide, Lt. Arthur Clarke, and a small group of others, Dean tried to find a way out on foot.  He left the group to make his way to a brook and ordered the others to wait no longer than an hour for him.  On the way down he stumbled, and lost consciousness.  When he awoke it was 2:30 a.m.  Gen. Dean never knew if he had been unconscious a few hours or a full day.  Apparently suffering a fractured collar bone, he made his way to the brook to drink and remained there two days, too weak to move.

Dean hear footsteps and cocked his pistol but found the approaching man was an American officer who aided him.  Burchett said Dean does not remember the officer’s name although for two days the two trudged through hills and paddy fields.

Starving, Dean and his companion finally turned to a Korean peasant home for help.  They were given eggs and a place to sleep.  Then they were betrayed for the first time.  English speaking voices called to them to come out and they would not be harmed.  But they slipped away with Dean leading.  During the resultant firing and confusion, the officer became separated from Dean.  They never saw each other again.

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Dean hid in a foxhole for an entire day and in some manner he does not remember, got some rice, the last food he was to eat for 20 days.  He survived solely on water.  Burchett quoted Dean as saying:  In his 20 agonizing days without food, Dean was surrounded five times but escaped.  Four of the five times he was surrounded he was betrayed by children who reported his presence in the neighborhood.

Dean attempted to move by night and sleep by day but was always betrayed by Korean civilians.  Dean began to think that his chances of escape were good.  But he was betrayed again to North Korean troops.  They captured him.

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These next articles were published in The Caberra Times on Saturday 15 December 1951. (Correspondents unknown)

NEW PROPOSAL IN ARMISTICE TALKS

(A.A.P. – Reuter)

TOKYO, Friday.

peace negotiations

peace negotiations

The Communists made a new six-point plan for the supervision of the armistice at the truce talks at Panmunjom today.  The proposal included the limited rotation of troops at the rate of 5000 on each side monthly.

The United Nations spokesman, General Nuckols, said that although this was below the present Allied level, it suggested that the Communists would accept the Allied plan for a neutral inspection body operating under a military armistice commission.

In the prisoner of war sub-committee, the Communists again deadlocked discussions by refusing to hand over information about Allied prisoners in their hands.  The Communists again refused to allow International Red Cross representatives to visit their prisoner of war camps.  United Nations negotiator, Rear Admiral Libby, asked them, “Is this because your prisoner list contains only a handful of names and you are ashamed to give it to us?”

Preserving Strength

TOKYO, Friday.

The Allies in Korea are bringing in enough additional troops to meet any forceable Communist ground attack.  This was announced “somewhere in Korea” today by the Allied ground commander, General James Van Fleet, in answer to queries from American United Press.

James Van Fleet

James Van Fleet

He was asked if he thought the Communists ever could get strong enough to push the Allies out of Korea, “The 8th Army will never be pushed out of Korea as far as comparative ground strength is concerned between the enemy and ourselves,” he replied.  “The point of balance lies in the air.  If the enemy throws in his Manchurian potential and we don’t have enough additional air power to combat that threat, then the 8th Army might be jeopardized.  At the present time, we do not anticipate that possibility.” he said.

Asked if he thought the Communists were getting stronger every day of the current lull in the fighting, General Van Fleet said they were and had been strengthening themselves even before the lull occurred.  For several months, he said, the Communist supply and replacement activities had been improving.

UN delegates

UN delegates

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Farewell Salutes – 

*Richard W. Asbury – Maryland; US Army Air Corps, Lt. Col. (Ret.), WWII, Korea, Vietnam – The last remaining WWII flying ace.

Laurice Tappan – Chandler, AZ; US Navy WWII nurse

Merlin Marion Andrew – London, England; ambulance driver, WWII, blitz

Clifford Gallant – Providence, RI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Japanese interpreter

Gene Hoffman – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII

Samuel Leabo – Phoenix, AZ; US Navy, 1st Class Machinist Mate, WWII

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Resouces:

http://nightowlsnotebook.wordpress.com

National Library of Australia; Trove archives

Korean War (23)

41st Royal British Commandos

41st Royal British Commandos

 

31 October 1951, the Communists agreed to a demarcation line for the armistice based on the MLR (Main Line of Resistance).  In response, Gen. Ridgeway ordered Van Fleet to not participate in any operation larger than a battalion (about 1,000 men) without authorization.  The Eighth Army offensive actions were basically brought to a halt and veterans began to return home.

17 November, the Americans proposed that the MLR should be the armistice line if the Chinese signed the papers within 30 days.  All they really resulted in doing was give the CCF a month to improve their positions.  During the reprieve, they constructed 77 miles of tunnels and 3,427 miles of trenches , which constituted a defensive line 14 miles deep and 155 miles long from coast to coast.  Then they allowed the deadline to run out.

Korean peace conference guard

Korean peace conference guards

1 December, the HMS Cockade was hit by shore battery fire while assisting a friendly-force evacuation from Tashwa-do after a Chinese assault.  There was one casualty.  Between 3-4 December, a unit of the 41st Royal Marine Commandos, from the USS Horace A. Bass, conducted a landing raid on the east coast to destroy enemy installations in an area around Tachon.

5 December, the enemy sortie count of 310 MiG-15s engaged or encountered by the U.N. air force was the highest amount in a single day as yet seen in the war.  By 12 December, an increase in air cover was ordered for troop movements (by sea) into Inchon.  This was a joint effort by the U.S. Navy and the FEAF (Far East Air Force)

17-18 December, Ung-do and Changyang-do, on the west coast , were overwhelmed by an enemy attack.  The guerrillas pulled out of the area to allow the planes to strafe and bombard the sector.

19 December, Operation Farewell went into effect at 0700 hours when one infantry battalion was airlifted by the 1st Marine Air Wing helicopters to Hill 864 and the occupying battalion of Hill 884 were returned and put in reserve.  Despite the high gusting winds of 30 to 40 knots, the mission went as planned.  This continued the following day with air support.  They received no fire from the enemy, but opposing the ground forces was the North Korean 1st, 15th and 47th divisions.  A coordinated air and sea bombardment was held on Wonsan as well.

 

HMAS "Tobruk"

HMAS “Tobruk”

Patrols were sent out at the Chaho-Hungnam area with orders to prevent the enemy from re-mining the sector, eliminate any enemy encountered, prevent any fishing and destroy any junks and small craft.  In the vicinity of Cho-do and Sokto Islands on the west coast, anti-invasion stations were assumed by the USS Manchester, USS Eversole.  HMAS Tobruk, HMS Alacrity and other UN ships.  The Tobruk received one hit from enemy shore fire while covering a LST landing.

 

West coast island map

West coast island map

22 December, a jet aircraft similar to a F-86 was spotted, the third such sighting in the past 2 weeks.  The FEAF considered this a confirmation of MiG-21s in Korea.  LST 661 was hit by enemy shelling from Sokto Island.  Two days later, the evacuation of 7,196 refugees off Cho-do, Taechong-do and Paengnyong-do Islands (west coast) was complete.

 

Wonsan Harbor map to show island locations

Wonsan Harbor map to show island locations

26 December, the ROK ship PC-740 (subchaser) blew up and sunk after striking a mine off To-do Island in Wonsan Harbor.  27 December, the enemy captured Sosuap-To on the west coast, but was re-captured 2 days later by friendly guerrillas.  The USS Eversole received strafing fire that night as they patrolled the waters south of Skto Island.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eugene Ostlund – Fargo, ND & Fredericksburg, VA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Abert “Tito” Leon – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, 2 tours Vietnam

Albert McElroy – Chicago, IL; US Army,  WWII

John Hough – Long Island, NY; US Navy, WWII

John Paul Christian – Silver Springs, MD; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor survivor

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Korean War (22)

Royal Canadians in Korea

Royal Canadians in Korea

 

8 September 1951, was the onset of Operation Miden when the Commonwealth Brigade created a firm bridge hold on the northern bank of the lower Injin River.  From this point, and then pushing forward, they created a line from Sanggorangpo to Chung-gol.  Their Engineers constructed and reopened roads and rebuilt 2 bridges; these would become vital links for the Canadians.

11 September, the division of Canadians , along with the Americans moved north, the 29th Brigade on the left and the 25th Brigade on the right.  They received little opposition and the operation was completed on 13 September.  27 September, the new commander of the 2nd Division, MGeneral Robert N. Young, called a halt to regroup.  The new plan was to have the 72nd Tank Battalion attack and cut off the Mundung-ni Valley and hills that made up the enemy supply lines.  The trail was heavily mined and road-blocked and the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion was called in to clear the area and build a new roadway suitable for the Sherman tanks.  While this was in progress, the 9th, 38th and 23rd Infantry Regiments launched attacks on the ridge.

 

"Old Baldy"

“Old Baldy”

3 October, as Operation Miden ended, Operation Commando began, this being a fight for a hill nick-named “Old Baldy.”  The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) went to the high ground by the Sami-chon River, the Americans were on the right and the 1st ROK Division on the left.  The Commonwealth, supported by artillery, launched their attack the first day.  The RCR, with the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, followed the next day.  On 8 October, the Ulsters had Hill 217 and were extremely close and open to even more attacks by the enemy.

 

Royal Ulster Rifles

Royal Ulster Rifles

11 October, with 30 tanks in the lead, artillery pounding and planes soaring overhead, the 2nd Division stormed into the valley; this caught the North Koreans by surprise.  The Chinese 204th Division, moving in to assist, were given no time to dig in, causing massive casualties to the CCF.  The next day, for Hills 635.8 and 709.6, with 48 tanks in front, the Communist 610th Regiment had learned from the previous day’s fiasco and reinforced their anti-tank trenches and set up 49 infantry guns.  Along with their recoilless guns and rocket launchers, they destroyed 18 tanks and cost the Americans high casualties in the 23rd Regiment.

 

significant battles

significant battles

13 October, the 8th ROK Division launched  attacks on 4 hills and received a high casualty list.  The next day, 8 Sherman tanks attacked the Mundung-ni Valley and all were lost.  Two more were destroyed by anti tanks mines on the 19th.  While the tanks went through the enemy supply dumps and destroying 350 bunkers, a smaller team hit the Sat’ae-ri Valley, completing the circle and cutting off any chance the enemy had to reinforce.  The French captured the last Communist bastion.  The tanks never reached the town of Mundung-ni and this actually gave the North Koreans one of the few victories in this stage of the war. (South Korea celebrates this as a victory.)

Sherman tank, "Old Baldy"

Sherman tank, “Old Baldy”

In the first 16 months of the war, the 1st Cavalry lost 4,000 men, 4 times as many as they did in WWII and the unit was sent back to Japan.  The 45th (Oklahoma National Guard Division) were moved in to replace them.  The UN troops from August to October had lost 60,000 KIA, including 22,000 Americans; bringing the American casualty total to 100,000.  The enemy count was estimated at 234,000.  The numbers were climbing so high that the Chinese and North Koreans agreed to further talks to begin 25 October.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Kenneth Lowell Brisbane – Canby, OR; US Army, WWII

Ralph Carr – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII PTO

David Fiske – Los Angeles, CA; US Air Force, WWII, fight surgeon

Ezra Koch – Saskatchewan, Canada & McMinnville, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Takeshi Kohatsu – Montebello, CA; US born Nisei, Poston Relocation Center, US Air Force

Gerald Ryan – Hicksville & Merrick, NY; US Army,  Korea

John Wilson – Chicago, IL; US Navy, Korea

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Correspondent’s View – 3

2nd Div. soldiers are carried on the backs of other G.I.s from Heartbreak Ridge to an aid station

2nd Div. soldiers are carried on the backs of other G.I.s from Heartbreak Ridge to an aid station

With the battling of Heartbreak Ridge lasting a month, Korean War correspondent had two more articles published in that  timeline.

Heartbreak Hill Battle of Grenades

by: Rafael Steinberg

WITH THE U.S. 2D INFANTRY DIVISION, Korea, Oct., 13 (Delayed) (INS) – – Shortly after dawn today an American soldier and a French soldier crouched beside the firing slot of a Communist bunker.  One of them tossed a white phosphorous hand grenade into the slot and ended the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge.  The Battle ended one month after it began.

It may have been the most bitter of all the battles of Korea.  It was so bitter that Col. James Y. Adams of Monterey, Cal., who commanded the 23rd Infantry Regiment which followed the battle, said: “We will have 3,000 Purple Hearts in the regiment.”

On the blackened, blasted ridge today, soldiers of the regiment were still ducking Communist artillery and mortar shells.  But the last holdout Communists had died at their machine-guns and United Nations infantrymen who seized the last peak on the ridge yesterday morning stared curiously at the bodies of the Reds who had chosen to die rather than surrender and who had fought a hopeless battle for 24 hours.

And they died this morning, burned out by flame throwers and phosphorous hand grenades.  Said Cpl. Edward Bender, 21, of Richland Center, Wis., a 1st Battalion radio operator who stood on the hill this morning: “We took a few prisoners up there, but the others in the bunkers didn’t have the opportunity to surrender.  They died.  They must have wanted to hold that hill because they were throwing everything at us.  One guy was killed right next to me.  He never knew what hit him.”

The Reds on the northern tip of Heartbreak Ridge had orders to hold until they were killed and so, to clean out the last bunkers, the Americans and Frenchmen had to crawl right up to the big fortifications.  And that meant death of a would to many.

One Flint (Mich.) boy, lying wounded in a hospital, related: “We were almost to the top when they started throwing hand grenades at us.  That was as far as we got.  They were throwing hand grenades one right after another.”

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Displaying signs left by the Chinese Communist soldiers

Displaying signs left by the Chinese Communist soldiers

Hill 931: Heroism’s Birthplace

Medic Absorbs Blast to Save Patient

 WITH THE SECOND DIVISION IN KOREA, Oct. 16 (Delayed). – Many things happen to a man in battle.  Many things are done under fire by men who can’t explain them afterwards.  And the greatest of these is self-sacrifice.

Private First Class Franklin E. Roton, 18, of Sheridan, Wyo., lies gravely wounded in an Army hospital today because in one swift moment of impulse he abandoned the instinct for self preservation to protect another man.

Private Roton doesn’t consider himself particularly brave.  And before he came to Korea, he did not know the man whose life he was to save.  But when the decisive moment came, he saw what he had to do in a flash, and did not hesitate.

In the dark of early morning, Roton’s outfit, second battalion of the 23rd Regiment, was making the final assault on Heartbreak Ridge’s highest peak.  Easy Company was in the lead and Roton was a newly appointed medic in its Second Platoon.  It was dark and foggy on the peak and as they charged toward the crest the men could barely see each other.

But they could hear the mortars and the machine-guns and the grenades – and they could feel when they were hit.  And when they were hit they shouted, “Medic,” and Medic Roton ran to help them.

Then, as he stooped over a wounded man to tend him, Private Roton saw a grenade fall out of the mist and land just on the the side of his patient.  He had no time to think, no time to wonder about lif and death or duty and bravery and cowardice.  He only had time for one reaction.  The medic took care of his patient.  Throwing himself over the wounded man, he absorbed the full blast of the grenade and took a hatful of shrapnel in his back and head.

Hours later, the medic and his patient were both lying on stretchers in a battalion aid station.  Roton said: “It was a grenade.  It lit in front of me and I just dove over in front of him and fell on the guy.”  He was in pain and could not say any more.  The litter jeep took him away to the rear.  He was only 18 and had been in Korea only six weeks.

He was badly hurt and had learned that war is not a game.  But he had also found out what kind of man he was – and that knowledge he could keep forever.

Click images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Foss Eldo – Potomac Falls, VA; US Navy, Warrant Officer 2, WWII (Ret. 1941-61)

Walter Gillespie – Lincoln, NE & Peoria, AZ; US Army, WWII

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

John ‘Phil’ Knight – Dayton, OH & Coral Springs, FL;  US Army, Korea

Dave Mulcahy – New Haven, CT & Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Navy, WWII & US Army in Korea w/ Purple Heart

Dan Weiss – NYC, NY & Pompano Bch., FL; US Army, WWII

Correspondent’s View – 2

Heartbreak Ridge

Heartbreak Ridge

5 September 1951, the North Koreans moved from Bloody Ridge to the 7 mile long hill known to the Americans as Heartbreak Ridge, just 1,500 yards away. A month long battle that would cost the U.S. 2nd Division 3,700 men. Below are two more articles written by Korean War correspondent Rafael Steinberg as he witnesses some of the action involved.

‘DO PEOPLE BACK HOME KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?’

By, Rafael Steinberg

WITH THE SECOND U.S. INFANTRY DIVISION, Korea, Sept. 28. – (INS) – When it began, there were many men, and they all said they’d rather live than be heroes.  But when it was over, there were many heroes.  The heroes who didn’t live through it were carried to the road in trucks that were seldom too large for the load they were given.  Those who lived, staggered off “Heartbreak Ridge” like fugitives from a nightmare.

They had fired their guns until their ammunition was gone, charged the enemy until the moment the enemy died, battled with knuckles and sinew.  The men of one group told the story today.  For the past few days they had fought as a bobtailed outfit because there were not enough officers or noncoms or men left to fill out the whole unit.  This conversation took place:

“Say, listen, buddy.”
“Yes?”
“Do the people back home know what’s going on here?”
“Some of them might.”
“Yeah?  Well tell them about this damn mountain.  Tell them this ain’t no patrol contact.  If they knew about it they’d stop this stuff.  This here’s a war.  Tell them about this damn ridge.”
 

The ridge is steep and the peaks along it are high and the North Koreans have burrowed themselves into the mountain the same way termites eat their way into a log.  For two weeks, the 23rd Infantry Regiment battled for the highest peak.  The first battalion crawled and climbed and battled and died on one slope.  The second battalion crawled and climbed and died on another.  The third battalion crawled and climbed and died on the peak just above.

The North Koreans still hold the highest peak.  But the Communist army is missing four regiments as a result of the death-grip the Reds kept on their mountain, the Americans who were wounded and died took more than their share of enemy with them.

Men of the Second US Inf. Div. back down from Heartbreak Ridge

Men of the Second US Inf. Div. back down from Heartbreak Ridge

The Communists held because they had a mortar and artillery piece aimed at every piece of ground the 23rd held or took.  They held because their commander sent four regiments, one at a time, up to the peak from the west without regard for losses.  And they held for the elementary tactical reason that a defender of high ground almost always has the advantage over his attackers.

But the men of the 23rd kept at it.  Said one company commander:  “They were charging up the hill with bayonets…”

The captain, James Dick of Elizabeth, NJ, came off the hill today and told his fellow officers:  “There were individual acts of courage the like of which I’ve never seen.  There was one kid on his way to the top, got his foot blown off and got some machine-gun fire in his chest.  Then a mortar knocked his jaw off and still the ______ kept going.  Then he almost got to the top and just collapsed, just collapsed… and we we will never know who he was.”

No American dead were left on the hill, the captain said, but there is no time to look at a man’s dog tags and write down his name when the mortars are coming in.

“I had my radio,” said one officer, “and each time we had to fall back because of the machine-guns or mortars, I asked for instructions.  They said ‘you will take the hill by dawn.’  So we try a few more times and lose a dozen more men each time and I make the same call and ask the same question and get the same answer.  Finally I left my radio near a tree and a mortar blew it up and then I had to use my own judgement and that meant get back to the perimeter.  We got back just in time, too.  I’m telling you, you can’t take that hill.  There’s no place to maneuver.  There’s just one or two ways to get up and they’ve got them zeroed in.  And their bunkers are so deep that a big shell won’t get into them.”

But the men stayed on and fought.  By this time they were usually in a state of shock.  For two weeks no one of them slept more than an hour or two at a time.  For days whole companies stayed alert on guard all night with no sleep.  There was no hot food, no change of clothes, no outlet for the tension and fear and worry that built up day by day until some men fell apart and had to be led down the hill and other men fell apart and led screaming charges up the hill.

Said one officer:  “There were two wild idiots.  Men screaming in the bottoms of their foxholes – and they had good reason to be screaming but what good were they to me?”

One small group lost 15 killed and 70 wounded.  Another smaller group had only five men hut by this afternoon.

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Personal note – I believe stories such as these from men who were there more than cover the question as to whether these three years was a conflict or a war.

Resource:  http://nightowlsnotebook.wordpress.com

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ben Smith – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Barbara Hooven – NJ; US Army nurse, WWII

His helmet, rifle and ammunition belt mark the spot where an unidentified soldier was killed on the Korean front

His helmet, rifle and ammunition belt mark the spot where an unidentified soldier was killed on the Korean front

Samual Brickman – Delray Bch, FL; US Army, WWII ETO, Forward Brigade

Edward Huth – Denver, CO & Phoenix, AZ; US Army, WWII

David Rechenbach – VA; US Army, Vietnam

Robert Hortie (83) – Salisbury, MD; USMC (Ret.) GySgt.

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Korean War (21)

USS Everett

USS Everett

With the success of the 8th Army during May 1951, the war began to look like a stalemate as the Chinese headed north. Operation Piledriver, another offensive action, pushing from the Kansas Line (above the 38th in X Corps area) on the retreating CCF was not the success the Allied generals had counted on. The 8th Army was unable to be as aggressive as usual for 5 reasons: 1- soldiers with the longest service were being shipped home; 2 – rumors of a cease-fire; 3 – onset of the monsoon-like rainy season; 4 – strong enemy resistance; 5 – troop fatigue. But through all this, they did reach the area that was known as the Iron Triangle and control of the east-to-west roads used by the CCF for supply lines. The Canadian troops were assigned in June to patrol these routes from Seoul to Chorwon.

USAF 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing,  James Jabara of Wichita, Kansas

USAF 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, James Jabara of Wichita, Kansas

The Korean War saw the first aerial combat using jet fighters. US Air Force Captain James Jabara became the world’s first jet ace in May 1951 and had a total of 15 MiGs. He was later promoted to Major. By the end of the war, US pilots had a total of 950 MiGs in all.

Kaesong

Kaesong

13 June, with the Allied forces at Line Wyoming (I Corps sector forward the Kansas Line), which included the base of the Iron Triangle. Van Fleet ordered the line fortified and held; it was dubbed the MLR (Main Line of Resistance). This satisfied the UN Security Council and the Soviet ambassador made a broadcast to suggest negotiations should begin. These would be military talks to end the fighting, not the political future of Korea. The town selected for this was Kaesong right between the opposing armies. Syngman Rhee felt betrayed by the Americans and the ROKA (Republic of Korea Army) would not attend. There was another snag for the Allies as Kaesong was 3 miles south of the 38th parallel and in enemy hands. The American delegation was portrayed by the communists as surrendering when they arrived for the talks.

significant battles

significant battles

28 June, the destroyer, the USS Henry W. Tucker, was firing on Wonsan Harbor and received counterbattery fire in return. 3 July, the frigate, USS Everett, was also attacked; killing one man. The Fast Carrier Task Force retaliated by holding 247 sorties on Wonsan and the South Korean Marines attacked the area by land. 6 July, the destroyer USS Evans, put men on the island of Hwangto-do and 2 other destroyers went after the buildings and a torpedo station. Still, the ships were being fired on and naval commanders put Operation Kickoff in action. 17 July, members of the fleet sailed within the harbor to fire on the North Korean positions. 31 July, the USS Helena was hit once, but destroyed 7 gun sites and an ammunition dump.

All through July, the talks were breaking up and coming to a stalemate. Ground action was hindered by Typhoon Kate. 8 July, a battle was fought about 7 miles south of Kosang on the west coast, but details are scarce. UN ships and the islands at Wonsan Harbor continued battling with the enemy on shore.

Punchbowl, map from 23 May 1951

Punchbowl, map from 23 May 1951

18 July, Operation Kickoff began in Wonsan Harbor with the navies. 28 July, the USS Los Angeles caught the enemy by surprise when they entered Haeju Man channel and bombed the shore troops. Other US ships bombarded the north bank of the Han River.

4 August, the British Royal Marines reinforced their defenses on Hwangto-do Island (Wonsan) by installing mortars. Two days later, LSMRs (landing ship medium rocket) reported firing over 100,000 rockets at the enemy in Korea. Typhoon Marge hit the entire Korean Theater in mid-August.

22 August, the talks in Kaesong broke down. The first new action was to push the CCF back from Hill 1211 which dominated the Hwachon Reservoir. The circular valley created by the hills was called the Punchbowl. The CCF was on the high ground and the UN forces on the Kansas Line. Bunker by bunker, the 36th ROK Ist Division Marines and 2nd US Infantry Division battled fiercely. The 2 heights named “Bloody Ridge” and “Heartbreak Ridge” would see extensive combat.

The sector dubbed Bloody Ridge by the Stars and Stripes, to describe the action, but did not for security reasons identify where it was. The Hills numbered 983, 940 and 773 and their connecting ridges were covered with enemy trenches and bunkers strong enough to withstand artillery and air strikes. The fighting had actually started while the peace talks were still dragging out. The area held little value for the Allies, but it was important the enemy not possess it. It was finally conquered on 5 September and would cost 2,700 lives.

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This just in…

001 (720x800)

Courtesy of the Smithsonian magazine.

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Farewell Salutes –

Allen Manning – Chelsea & Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Punchbowl Marine sniper

Punchbowl Marine sniper

Alfred “Buddy” White, Jr. – Sommerville, MA; USMC WWII

Donald Scholefield – Burlington, Canada; Royal Canadian Navy, aircraft gunner HMCS Gifford

Patricia Macaluso – Scotland & Scarborough, Canada; Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force 1942-46

Mary Ann Ryan – Newfoundland & Toronto, Canada; RCAF, WWII

Click images to enlarge.

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Korean War (20)

USS Toledo off Korean coast

USS Toledo off Korean coast

1 May 1951, the approximate line of battle in Korea on this date extended from a point about 6 miles north of Yangyang on the east coast to slightly north of Yongdongpo on the west. The 1st Marine Division was defending north of Hong Ch’on under the the X Corps. During most of May, the USS Toledo, sitting off od Inchon used her guns to support the ground troops of I Corps (8th Army).

Douglas Skyraider

Douglas Skyraider

3 May, 12 Corsairs and 8 Skyraiders from the USS Princeton made an inland attack on the enemy controlled Hwachon Dam. The destruction of one dam gate and damaging of two others left the dam of no tactical use to the enemy.

5-7 May, the ROKN JML-306 (a small ex-Japanese minesweeper) hit a mine and sank. Gunfire support from five US ships supported the ROK troops in the Kosong and Kansong area which resulted in extensive damage to the enemy troops, shelters, gun positions and transportation facilities.

USS Orleck, DD-886 in heavy seas, Korea

USS Orleck, DD-886 in heavy seas, Korea

11 May, on the east coast, the USS Orleck fired on enemy troops using a SFCP (Spotting Fire Command Post) and caused about 300 enemy KIA. Later firings caused about another 140 and saved the ROK men from annihilation in that area. On the west coast, the US Air Force TF (Task Force) 77 was called in to bomb four rail bridges.

16-20 May, the Chinese Communist forces, starting their Second Step, 5th Phase Offensive, and the X Corps began the battle of Soyang-Gang. After two days of fighting, the 8th Army requested air support. Once more the ROK III Corps collapsed. Van Fleet switched the US 3rd Division and 187th ARCT across from I Corps to bolster the X Corps. After relentless battles that would continue into June, the enemy was pushed back into the Iron Triangle (the 50 square mile plateau surrounded by large mountains). According to the US Marine Corps histories, the Chinese were “scourged with bullets, rockets and napalm as planes swooped down upon them like hawks scattering chickens.” The Wyoming Line (near the 38th parallel) was chosen as the best area to stand and defend. The National Security Council’s meeting felt this was the best for the US political aims. The UN troops were capable, but did push the enemy back to the Yalu River.

US Navy F-4U Corsair waits to take off from the USS Philippine Sea

US Navy F-4U Corsair waits to take off from the USS Philippine Sea

TF-77 suffered its heaviest casualties to date; 6 aircraft (5 F4-Us and 1 AD Skyraider) were lost during combat; 3 pilots were killed, one missing and 2 recovered. The USS Brinkley Bass lost one man and had 9 WIA after a heavy battle with enemy shore guns at Wonsan.

23 May, two landing ships with medium rockets (LSMR) fired a total of 4,903 rockets in a 35 minute period at enemy concentrations in the Wonsan area. This was a coordinated action with light cruisers and destroyers for Operation Fireball. This was the first time the LSMR was used.

7 June, a raiding party was put ashore at Sonjin from the USS Rupertus and entered into a small arms battle. The men returned to the ship with 3 North Korean prisoners.

12-20 June, the USS Walke struck a mine; 26 men were killed and 35 were wounded. The USS Thompson was hit 14 times by enemy shore batteries off of Songjin and 3 men were killed and 4 wounded. Songjin was now in its 100th day of siege. The 1st Marine Division secured their area of the reservoir.

Battle of Soyang

Battle of Soyang

The Battle of Soyang involved Canadians, Australians, New Zealand, the Dutch, British, French and US I, IX and X Corps verses thousands of Chinese troops: one division of their 15th Army and two divisions of their 12th Army were merely the frontal attack. The enemy’s 27th Army, III Army and 18th Division of the 60th Army were also involved.

[Three times I attempted to consolidate the data for this battle, but I was unable to do so without making it incomprehensible. Therefore I am including this link to the Army records in the event a reader is interested.]

http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/ebb/ch25.htm

During the month of May, the Chinese Communist forces lost approximately 100,000 men killed in action. It was now the first time whole units of the enemy began to lay down their weapons and surrender to UN troops.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 2919573205_5a3a5035a8_b (800x545)

Emily deForest Guertin – Winsted, CT; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Pharmacist Mate Third Class

Joseph Philip Gomer – Duluth, Minn.; US Army, WWII, Minnesota’s last surviving Tuskegee Airman

Albin Warner – Chicago, IL; US Army WWII, ETP, D-Day, Battle of the Bulge w/ Silver Star

James Trone – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, Captain MC (Ret.)

Thomas Dougherty – Pocasset, MA; USMC 1st Marine Division, Korea (Chosin Reservoir & Inchon)

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Korean War (19)

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

15 April 1951, the Canadian Royal 22nd Regiment headed toward Korea while the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) is awarded a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for preventing an enemy breakthrough of United Nation’s lines at Kap’yong.

19 April, all US I and IX Corps were along Line Utah and preparing to advance to Line Wyoming. For 2 days they attacked the high ground overlooking Chorwon. They were halted on 22 April as the combined CCF and North Korean offensive began. The Chinese had some 700,000 troops in Korea and were using about half, which made the Battle of Kap’yong the largest battle of the Korean War. The enemy wanted to present Mao with the recapture of Seoul on May Day. The destroyed ROK 6th Division left a 10-mile gap between the US 24th Division and the 1st Marine Division. Ground was lost when the I and IX Corps were ordered to pull back to fill the void.

An officer of the Glosters points to Gloster Hill after the battles.

An officer of the Glosters points to Gloster Hill after the battles.

During 21-29 April, the UN planes had completed 7,420 air sorties. The 8 days of battles had halted the persistent CCF offensive. A miniature epic of heroism occurred on the Imjin as the British 29th Brigade (3 battalions and the Belgian 1st Battalion) held off a major push by the Chinese Communist Forces. They caused 11,000 KIA of the enemy after 3 days of heavy combat. Out of the brigade rearguard, the 1/Gloucestershire Regiment (“the Glosters”), only 63 men returned to safety. Gloster Hill was added to the list of British battle honors marked as small units that overcame impossible odds.Gen. Van Fleet himself described Gloster Hill as “the most outstanding example of unit bravery in modern warfare.”

Chinese Spring Offensive

Chinese Spring Offensive

23-25 April, the 1st Battalion of the Australian Middlesex Regiment and 16th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery were attacked by the entire 118th Division of the CCF. The PPCLI held the forward positions for the Middlesex to withdraw. Massive human waves from the enemy that continued unrelentingly came down to hand-to-hand combat. Captain Mills, of D Company, PPCLI, called for artillery from Hill 677. By the afternoon of the 25th, the road was clear of the enemy and the units joined up with the US Army’s 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion. The CCF routed the 6th ROK Div. The CCF then gave themselves away with their horns and tracer bullets and the Canadians were able to coordinate their firing while remaining hidden. The CCF turned to Hill 677. By calling for artillery fire on his own position, Capt. Mills had totally confused the enemy and they were easily beaten back.

29-30 April, six US ships bombarded the east coast and two made amphibious landings to divert the CCF pressure on the 8th Army.

25th Div. & "No Name Line

25th Div. & “No Name Line

14 May, Gen. Van Fleet at the No Name Line had been considerably reinforced during this time. The UN forces laid mines, set up artillery of inter-locking machine-guns, strung barbed wire over 500 miles and situated 55 gallon drums of gasoline and napalm to be detonated electronically. Van Fleet wanted to start new amphibious landings in North Korea to outflank the enemy, but Ridgeway was proving to be more cautious than MacArthur. The Far East commander stated in a memo: UN offensives would seek only to deliver advantage in support of diplomatic negotiations.

The Kapyong Valley

The Kapyong Valley

15 May, showed signs of an impending attack including an increase in the number of enemy agents attempting to slip into the lines. The next day, 21 CCF divisions, flanked by 3 North Korean divisions stormed down the center of the Kimpo Peninsula. To the east of this sector, the CCF crossed the Pukhan River and hit the ROK 5th and 7th Divisions along a 20-miles front. The 40,000 ROKs scattered and pulled a bug-out; abandoning their artillery and rifles in what would be the largest and most disgraceful of the war. When the US 2nd Div. and 1st Marines were able, on 18 May, they moved east to fill in the gap. During this battle, the 2nd Div. lost about 900 KIA or WIA to the enemy’s 35,000 loss.

New Zealand troops fire a 25-pounder at Kapyong

New Zealand troops fire a 25-pounder at Kapyong

Ridgeway flew to Korea on 19 May to meet with Generals Van Fleet and Almond of the X Corps to discuss a new offensive. Almond wanted the 187th RCT (Regimental Combat Team) as his replacements. But, as a paratrooper himself, Ridgeway did not wish to use the 187th as a ground force. He felt his “expensive and elite” troops should be available for other operations; nevertheless in the end, he conceded.

23 May, the 1st Marine Division attacked on the east side of the Hwachon Reservoir. The 187th went up the Hangye-Inje road along the river with the support of the 64th Tank Battalion. The sides of the river were very steep. Near Oron-ni there was a bridge about 8 miles south of Inje; the Soyang River crossed the road and these would become bloody markers in the attack. The staff of the 187th felt that at least 4 Chinese divisions were still in the area.

A lot of the enemy were hidden in foxholes with a camouflaged cover. As the men pushed on toward Inje, the ground was bayonet tested and hundreds of the CCF died in their holdouts. By late evening of 25 May, the city was in the 187th’s hands, despite the Communists fighting hard to try and protect their supply bases.

C Company, 3 RAR, Occupying a Chinese dug trench

C Company, 3 RAR, Occupying a Chinese dug trench

26 May, the column was receiving a heavy bombardment of grenades and rifle fire and then the mortar fire kicked in. It would take till the next day before they could advance again. Hills were fought for through heavy combat and hand-to-hand action with very few prisoners taken on either side. Cpl. Hernandez, although severely wounded, survived to receive the Medal of Honor.

On 27 May, The 2nd RCR (Royal Canadian Regiment) organized A Company to take Chail-li and Kakul-hong to the north; B Company on the left flank, C Company to secure Hill 269 between the town and Hill 467 and D Company to go on the main assault – which received heavy machine-gun resistance. Brigadier Rockingham called for a withdrawal and reorganized. This area was vital to the CCF as a supply route and they fought hard to protect it, but the RCR retook their positions with only 6 men KIA and 54 WIA.

The PPCLI, originally with the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade, moved south to rejoin the Canadian command.

Click images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Robert Lavender – Douglas, MI; US Army 1951-56

Clarence “Hank” McCall, Jr. – W.Palm Bch., FL – US Navy, Lt. Commander, submarine duty, PTO, USS Greenling

Carlos “Scotty” Tadlock – Corpus Christie, TX, Jupiter, FL; US Air Force, 23 years, Vietnam

Thomas Todd – Northfield, IL & Carlsbad, CA; USMC Captain, WWII & Korea

Tom Adelfio – Palermo, Italy, Tequesta, FL; US Army, WWII

Nathan R. Chapman – Seattle, WA; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class, Afghanistan

Arthur Blank – NYC, NY & N.Palm Beach, FL; US Navy (Ret.), Commander, WWII

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Personal note –

I had planned to fully explain the ‘Lines’ such as Utah and Wyoming, but I’m afraid my resource for that is down due to the government “shut-down.” Perhaps it will be activated soon.

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Resources: “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; Wikipedia; “Rakkasans” by Gen. EM Flanagan; Korean War on line; Army photos

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A Correspondent’s View

Chinese forces (CCF) in 5th Phase Offensive

Chinese forces (CCF) in 5th Phase Offensive

I was recently the recipient of newspaper articles written by Korean War correspondent, Rafael Steinberg.  My original intention was to extract notes of interest from these items to include here, as they fit into the timeline of the war.  But – these particular pieces struck me as so well-written, such an exact depiction of the scene, that I knew I had to receive permission to reprint, in full, as it appeared in the Dallas Times Herald, 4/13/51….

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Bowling Alley
 

 
Sparsely Settled, Isolated Valley Explodes Into Korea War Hot Spot

By: Rafael Steinberg

On the Central Korean Front, April 13 (INS.) – For nearly an hour a sparsely settled, isolated and almost picturesque river valley exploded into one of the hottest front line sectors in North Korea.

In the Pukhan Valley, above the 38th parallel, in an area that up to this week had been untouched by war, 60 U.S. troops crouched into a Chinese-built trench line that circled a dome-shaped hill. They were holding a point far in front of all other United Nations troops in their sector. From their positions on the hill they could see the flat rice fields of the valley in front of them. Beyond the paddies was a bridge and past the bridge the shallow blue water of the river twisted away through a narrow gorge. But the farmhouse below them was deserted and burning and no one worked in the rice fields.

A half-mile across the valley from the hill, the GIs could see a double trench line, punctuated with fortified pill boxes, along the side of a high ridge. From that hill the day before Chinese troops had fired heavy machine guns at the U.N. troops. As far as they knew the enemy was still there. Three of the GIs peered at the enemy trenches through field glasses and spoke code words into a walkie-talkie radio. They were Pvt. William J. Morin of Albany, N.Y.; Pfc. Wesley Falls of Rossford, Ohio and Pfc. Joseph D. Foley of West Medford, Mass.

A few seconds later, puffs of smoke appeared on the enemy slope and the thud of mortar shells echoed across the valley. “White phosphorous,” explained one. Pvt. Morin spoke into his radio again and another blast hit the Communists, this time closer to their pillbox.

In reply, the Chinese dumped a mortar shell a few hundred yards from the hill and the men in the trench ducked. Then, far below in the valley, another platoon broke from cover to the near bank and filed across the river and along a road leading to the enemy ridge.

On the hill, Cpl. Richard Sellars, 21, of Kansas City, MO, sat in a trench and took apart his 3.5 recoilless rocket gun and started to clean it. The troops on the hill had no orders to fire. For the moment they were comparatively safe. But their buddies on the valley tableland walked forward warily, one file on each side of the road. The tanks and machine guns they could see by merely turning heads were out of range of enemy rifles or machine guns – but to the Chinese on the ridge dead ahead of them, they must have looked like a double row of slowly moving targets in a shooting gallery.

Near the bank of the river, they poked their 90-mm. guns at the Chinese positions. They were ugly, squat and menacing and seemed oddly out of place in the simple valley. To the units on the nearly surrounded hill, however, the tanks were old and trusted friends. The unit on the road had nearly reached the enemy mountain. Suddenly Pfc. Stanley Murdock, 23, of Menlo, Wash., on the dome-shaped hill shouted and pointed at the road. His buddies reached for their field glasses. At the same moment the clatter of enemy rifle and machine-gun fire came to their ears.

On the road the attacking platoon was running back toward the river. Around them little spurts of dirt shot into them. One man seemed to fall into a ditch. The others fanned out into the paddies and flopped behind embankments. They fired at the enemy hill.

Then the tanks opened up. Short bright flashes of orange spurted from their guns. At almost the same time, puffs of smoke appeared on the Chinese hill. A second later, two almost simultaneous explosions were heard on the hill. Along the trench the order came: “Stay down.” Incoming mortar shells whined overhead and exploded in the rice paddies to the rear.

Pfc. Dean Paulson, 18, of Minneapolis, Minn., was complaining about food as he watched the unit lie flat. Pfc. Ronald Pocious, 26, of Los Angeles, started to reread some mail from home. Cpl. Byron Myers, 23, of San Diego sat hunched in the trench and put together the rifle he had been cleaning before the fire fight started. The cannonading ceased and an observation plane flew overhead. Pfc. Wayne A. Martin, 19, of South Minneapolis, identified it.

The tanks pulled back and moved down stream half a mile. Jeeps ran freely on the river bed. On the dome-shaped hill, the platoon poked up their heads, started little fires and prepared to spend another night nearly isolated in the deadly quiet valley.

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GI Goes for Drink and Steps on Mine

By: Rafael Steinberg

(Also published in April 1951)

— This is how a soldier died.

It was warm and dusty in the encampment between the river and the narrow Korean dirt road where the trucks and tanks rumble toward the front line and a few miles to the north. The soldier’s unit had just moved to the area. Nearby 50 of his buddies hammered on stakes for tent ropes.

The shallow river rushed green and cool from the canyon to the north, but the road and the flat stoney basin was dry and stifling. Dust parched the soldier’s throat, dust stung his eyes. Someone in a rear command post had decided to hold his unit in reserve and the GI was grateful.

He picked his way across the rocky river bank toward the water. Casually he looked around for mines. Just a day or two ago, the engineers had found some nearby. The river itself held a potential threat too. The Chinese held a dam far upstream and if they opened it the water would rise several feet. But the river looked friendly and green as it ran down the valley, the warm sun on the soldier’s back assured him that winter was over and the flat rocky river bank he walked across was like a thousand in America. Despite the dust and weariness this was a respite.

He headed toward the river for a helmet full of water to wash the dust from his face and neck. A cupful would cool his dust-dried throat. He saw a truck moving up the river toward him and he stopped to let it pass. Once more he moved forward, crossing the path the truck had taken.

Then, perhaps, he heard a click. Then came an explosion.

A mine discovered in time.

A mine discovered in time.

There was a mine he had not seen. A black puff of stone, dirt and smoke shot skyward. In it was a shapeless round object. The sound of the explosion bounced back and forth between the hills. Then there was silence and a ragged shape lay still and lonely on the rocky banks of the river.

One hundred pairs of eyes watched solemnly as two medics lifted what was left of the thirsty soldier to a stretcher, they eased it to the litter and gently covered it with a GI blanket.

Later the stretch of bank was empty and the trucks rolled by on the road. The water still gushed green and cool and the crash of artillery thundered down the valley from the front.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Note to ponder –

Even though the U.S. has been involved in more than a dozen military conflicts over the past 70 years, Congress has not formally declared war on any country since 5 June 1942, when it signed off on military action against Nazi Germany’s allies Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania.

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Farewell Salutes –

Bertrand Levasseur – New Brunswick, Canada & Amityville, NY; served in both the Canadian and US Air Forces

John Levender – Lindenhurst, NY; USMC Sgt., WWII

Donal Mallory – Chicago, IL; USMC, Vietnam

A brief moment of peace.

A brief moment of peace.

Douglas Maranda – Hillside, IL; US Army Air Corp, WWII

Henry Fletcher – Orange, TX; US Navy (22 years) Korea & Vietnam, Bronze Star

Theodore Greenfield – Jupiter, FL; US Army, WWII

Willard Talley, Sr. – Gaithersburg, MD; US Army, WWII

Leonard Ashack – Caledonia, MI; USMC, WWII

Richard Wodarczyk – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea

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Resources: http://nightowlsnotebook.wordpress.com; “The Week” magazine

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