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

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on October 22, 2013, in Korean War, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. Thank you for the information you posted regarding Heartbreak Ridge. While my dad served in Korea, he fought at Heartbreak Ridge as well as the Yahlu River. One day, all the pieces will come together and I will know more about his WWII and Korean War service : ).

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  2. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    great article

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  3. Firstly, I apologize for my absence for the most part. Your reports are so intensely reflective of the unheralded accounts of men and women at war. Love the stories and I need undistracted time to absorb as much as I can.

    Secondly, are we blessed here in the above comments with the actual correspondent??

    Lastly… if my jet lagged eyes do not fail me, is the wounded soldier being carried with his back to us missing his foot? My god…

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  4. gpcox – In any war, boys find out what kind of man they are very quickly.

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  5. The part of this post that thrilled me the most was the image of the Purple Heart. I don’t think I have seen one before; in detail like that.

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  6. As always, amazing research. I’d never thought about it before but, the streets for the housing area we lived in on Fort Ord, CA were all named for specific battles of the Korean War or heroes of that war. Unfortunately Fort Ord is no longer there – a small (very small) sign marks an area as a historical marker but you would never know it once was the home of 7th Inf Lt and now the division has been disbanded. We can thank Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (now cozy in his grand Carmel Valley, CA mansion among the walnut groves) for trading the closure of Fort Ord for a cabinet seat with Bill Clinton. [OK, I’ll get off my soap box.]

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    • Sheri – don’t you EVER get off your soap box! You are too good a resource for us to do that.:) You just added info I was not aware of and I appreciate that. Thanks for the compliment and keep being yourself.

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      • Thanks GP. I probably couldn’t get down if I even really wanted. I thought you had read my Fort Ord blogs but double checked and sure enough, there you were. Of course I had to stop and go down memory lane one again. My years assigned out of JAG at Fort Ord were the best years of my career. They were fun and the command allowed me to pick and chose my case load which was even more fun. We accomplished an amazing amount of work with practically no resources.

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        • I can truthfully believe that. You have always appeared to me to be an organized and capable person; adaptable to most any job, but thankfully in one you enjoyed.

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  7. Thank you for your posts. It makes me feel like I can relate to my dad a bit more. I admire all of the men and women who serve our country. Your posts and photos are amazing.

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  8. Amazing story of heroism. And that’s just one out of so many hundreds or thousands. I thank God every day for our brave military — previous and current. And thanks to Mr. Steinberg for responding to my earlier query!

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  9. These despatches are great. Now all of us will know and admire Private Roton.

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  10. I’m utterly impressed with your great work! And this time also Mr. Steinberg.
    Greetings to you in Florida from the Rhine Valley
    Dina

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  11. Over the next few weeks I have been planning a series of posts on Australians at War in anticipation for remembrance day Nov 11th. My father in law, Noel served in Korea on the HMAS Warramunga and Sydney. He had a long career in the navy and passed away a little over a decade ago. My wife who is the youngest of nine children has been doing her family tree and has been trying to dig up information on his records which include service in WW2 (underaged off course), Vietnam and Middle East. A lot of it is not available or classified. Makes it hard when he never talked about his service !!! Anyway, I have got of track. Thought about Korea and Australia’s involvement in two major battles, Kapyong and Operation Commando, any advice ?

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    • Do you have his service records? Your wife, as the daughter should be entitled to them. Go into Trove – the Australian newspaper archive – for articles on his ship and I found your library system and New Zealand’s very eager to assist. (More than mine!) E-mail them thru their websites. If I recall any other avenues, I’ll get back to you.

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  12. Such a tragedy, why must men fight each other. A month long battle that is aptly named. Thank you once again for post.

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  13. Stories like Private Roton are what make war worth reading about….and he did Easy Company proud. 🙂

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  14. Love the picture of the men holding the signs. I didn’t know the Chinese spoke English.

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  15. Thanks again, GP, for reviving my stories. And you’ve found some great photos to go with them. They bring me right back to the time and place. Good work.

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  16. Thank you so much for honoring them.

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  17. What a picture this is. Thank you for sharing it!

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  18. There are so many of these acts of heroism that will probably never be acknowledged. It’s good to remember these as symbolic gestures towards what should never be forgotten.

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  19. Apart from Clint Eastwood’s movie, have there been any other movies or doco’s on Heartbreak Ridge ?

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  20. Thanks for another great account from Mr. Steinberg. Especially liked the photograph of the signs.

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  21. Brave men, especially Private Roton. Wow what a thing to do! Total self sacrifice.

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  22. What more can we say about the Forgotten War?

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