Korean War (39)

Korea 1953

Korea 1953

 

19 March 1953, (still from the official Marine reports and diaries), George Company’s responsibilities included the defense of outpost Esther which the Chinese had given notice they were about the make trouble for.  When the “quiet time” mortar fire began, Pfc Gale Coultard began to organize a stretcher team.  Pfc Robert Cress said that smoke was put down to conceal the Marine movements, “Daylight evacuations had proven extremely hazardous.  Due to the location of outpost Esther, the evacuation trail was almost entirely under close enemy observation and fire.”  Pfc Cress earned a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

Nevada complex

Nevada complex

A recon patrol was sent out around Ether.  About midnight, the patrol detected Chinese movement of approximately a company size approaching.  Pfc Richard Adams was wounded early, but continued firing.  A grenade landed in the trench line and he rushed to cover it with his helmet.  Although injured again, he fought hand-to-hand combat with several enemy soldiers and returned to his position until relieved the following night.  Adams received the Navy Cross.

Navy Cross

Navy Cross

Pfc Frank Cross, in a different trench, fought the CCF until he ran out of ammunition.  When the enemy jumped into the trench, he fought them off with his rifle butt until he could reach a wounded Marine who had a loaded rifle.  He killed several of the enemy and the rest withdrew.  He also remained at his post until the following night  despite his injuries. (This is a summary from his Navy Cross citation.)

Marine at outpost Vegas

Marine at outpost Vegas

Pfc Robert Cress was certainly in the thick of things at Esther.  His second Bronze Star citation for the medal read:

“Although suffering with pain from multiple wounds sustained in the attack, he fearlessly carried out his mission of protecting a machine-gun emplacement.  Expressing complete disregard for his personal condition, he steadfastly continued to deliver a devastating hail of rifle fire upon the enemy who was determined to knock out the position.  When the savage assault was repulsed, he searched the trench line for possible enemy troops and cleared the position of unexploded hostile grenades.  He accepted medical treatment only after he was assured that his task was complete.”

G.I.s & Koreans stack the enormous pile of empty shell casings at a collection point.  This represents 4 days of fighting on the west coast.

G.I.s & Koreans stack the enormous pile of empty shell casings at a collection point. This represents 4 days of fighting on the west coast.

Pfc Cress remarked, “This citation is not too bad, but we were just doing what we were supposed to do.”  He gave credit for the success to the Recon patrol, Sgt. Red Jones and his mortar crew.  The records show that the attack coincided with assaults on How Company’s Marine outpost Hedy and the MLR. (Hedy is not far from outpost Carson).

I believe this picture is self-explanatory.

I believe this picture is self-explanatory.

The main thrust of Chinese forces opened up on the night of 26 March in an area known as the Nevada Cities defended by the 5th Marines.  The key outposts were Carson, Reno and Vegas and each was manned by a reinforced platoon, 40-50 Marines against as many as 800 of the enemy at each outpost.

The CCF appeared to have unlimited supplies of ammunition and did not hesitate to use them on any probable target.  During the night outposts Reno and Vegas were taken by the enemy and the 5 Marines captured were the only survivors.  The battles to regain the outposts raged on for 5 days; an estimated 45,000 rounds of artillery and mortar fire fell on the Marines with a loss of about 1,000 killed or wounded.  Carson was never taken, Vegas was eventually regained and Reno remained in enemy hands.

The view from a trench.

The view from a trench.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

187th RCT

187th RCT

Robert Courant – Deerfield Beach, FL; US Navy WWII

Benjamin Greenberg – Cincinnati, OH & Boca Raton, FL; US Army, WWII

Joseph Hanus – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea

Alexander Harrison – Potomac, MD; US Army, WWII, POW Purple Heart

Frank Hope – Granby, Canada; Royal Canadian Air Force, WWII, ETO

John White – Columbia, MS; US Army, B Co/187th/11th A/B, WWII, PTO

William Nagle – NYC, NY; US Army, Colonel, WWII, ETO

Richard Valdes – New Castle, DE & Pembroke Pines, FL; US Army, Korea

John White – Columbia, MS; US Army, B Co/187th/11th A/B, WWII, PTO

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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 January 21, 2014, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 74 Comments.

  1. Great storys of soldiers/Marines, all heroes, each and every one of them.
    Wonder if their exploits are still recorded or held in memory by their families.
    Ian

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    • These stories ARE from actual records that are now available on the internet. Slowly but surely, the Army, Navy and Marine records and gov’t histories make it out there. How about Australian records – where could I locate RAAF, etc. records for WWII?

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  2. Incredible! That pile of casings. 4 days!

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    • I used that picture specifically because of the men standing there give an actual perspective. Did you know that some of the broken casing were used by the men as additional body armor?

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  3. A picture paints a thousand words…seems like the shell casing phot is proof of that!

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  4. Amazing courage, tenacity and survival skills!
    One would think that running out of ammo would be time to give up or run, but no – bash them with a rifle butt until you can find something else to shoot them with!

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  5. HI, there! I’d like to start reading Korean War series from the first one. Can you show me the link? 🙂

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  6. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Hand to hand combat but injured – that is HUGE. You write so well, and clearly. You really honour these quiet heroes.

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    • Thank you. It amazes me that basically the military official records seem to be about the only references I have for this “quiet period” of the war. It all sounds like pure combat to me.

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  7. That story about Cress is fascinating: Pain takes a back seat… (something I know a little bit about, though not from the fields of war)
    PC, thanks for dropping by my blog… though I’m curious to know (given your area of interest) how you came to learn of my site? I also wonder if you might be able to help me solve a puzzle; I’ll be posting about it in the coming days – I also found a mysterious-looking piece of a pistol or rifle, something like a “miquelet lock” or flintlock/snaphance, etc. Might be a few centuries old..

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    • 1- I found your site while browsing the Reader under the Tag of History.
      2- I’m afraid I do have the knowledge to make a qualified guess about your find. I suggest you go to the word press Reader and in the topic space type in Civil War and browse, also guns, weapons and history. You should be able to locate someone to assist you or at least aim you in the right direction.
      Good luck and thank you for dropping in.

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  8. Pfc Frank Cross, good grief! What a fighter!

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  9. I’m impressed by the heroes, but appalled by the visual proof, in the shell casings, of the absurd, inhuman, wasteful way men (sic) settle arguments. Someone men (again sic) made a lot of money on making something that could only kill people and then become a giant waste product. I don’t want to sound sexist, but it is difficult not to in this context.

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  10. Your text is fascinating, my uncle went to Korea at 15, he fibbed about his age. I find this era of history so very interesting, thank you.

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    • If you know any stories, Hollie, I’d love to hear them and I’m certain the other readers would as well. When you have the time.. If you have a post about your uncle, leave a link here. Thanks.

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  11. That photo of the shell casings is amazing and shocking, at the same time… Thanks for not only telling these incredible stories but for also providing a brilliant pictorial record.

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  12. Desmond Scalmer (No.9057 RNZN, No. 208906 K Force) died January 20, 2014, Christchurch, NZ.
    James (JIm) Pocock NZ63176 Sgt,2NZEF Rifle Bn, WW2, North Africa, France, died January 21, 2014, Christchurch, NZ
    Alan Thomas Proffitt, NZ43949, RNZAF, WW2, died January 18, 2014, Wellington, NZ

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    • Thank you for adding to the Farewell Salutes. I wish I would hear from more people about that – we are losing them so quickly.

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      • When you start collecting the names, you realise just how fast we are losing them. This one today is particularly poignant and relevant to your posts as he served in Korea
        Lester Maurice Lukey (Reg. No. 208743, 16th Artillery Field Regiment, Lance Bombardier, Korea 1950-53) died Reefton, New Zealand, January 22nd 2014
        http://riv.co.nz/rnza/rf/postww2/kforce.htm has good material on the 16th Artillery Field Regiment in Korea

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        • Thanks, Gallivanta for the addition. I hear what you’re saying – and yes it’s true – that’s one reason I started the Farewell Salutes. Maybe some of us won’t forget.

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  13. I was trying to find out what happened to all those shell casings….I didn’t really find out but I did find this which is absolutely fascinating and includes two objects made out of shell casings, plus a wonderful interview with an Australian Red Cross worker http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2431:pamela-macleod-whitehead/

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  14. gpcox, the loss of life at Carson, Reno and Vegas was so sad. 40 to 50 of our finest young men against 800 of the enemy. We don’t even know the names of these young men yet we hear of Michael Jackson’s dying at his own hands – plus a city funeral procession. What is our spoiled society coming to?

    And the report accompanying the commendations simply showed love of country and their fellow Marines. And the piles of brass after four days of artillery fire. Think of who was at the receiving end.

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    • Very, Very True, Koji! People just don’t seem to think of it that way. It’s almost as though they think our soldiers are expendable government merchandise and they don’t want to hear about it, it might hamper their own petty schedules.

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  15. This is a real eye opener on the facts. Looking at it from today’s perspective you wonder why the troops at these critical positions were not reinforced?

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    • The reasoning was beyond me! That’s why I rarely include my own opinion, just the facts as I find them.
      [off topic – did I ever tell you that you have the same name as a ggrand-nephew of mine up in New Jersey?]

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      • There are many of us with the same name. If we look at the family history it seems that, apart from Patrick, the first name Michael was very popular even in its French masculine version. I guess that the names reflect Irish historical resistance. Someone said “where there is an Irishman there is a fight and where there is a fight there is an Irishman” LOL.

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  16. The bravery of these men just never ceases to amaze me! Thank you for telling their story–the whole story.

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  17. An incredible story,GP. Human courage under fire never ceases to amaze me. –Curt

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  18. So many unsung heros. Thank you!

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  19. Don’t look either for the respect that is due or common sense. It would have gasted my flabbers if it were anywhere else but America—

    I understand that guys fearlessly serving their country sitting at computer consoles in continental America are being awarded the new ‘combat service’ medals for playing video games.
    No kidding.
    AND the new medals are to rank above the Bronze Star …

    —it takes all sorts, I guess.

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  20. It’s difficult, so many years removed, to figure why a particular patch of land in the middle of a country far away is worth that many lives.

    That said, the valor of the men in discharging their duties is beyond question. One never knows what one might do in situation of extreme peril and stress, but always there are those who go well beyond what most would deem sufficient.

    Great post.

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    • It was political – who would have the upper hand at the peace talks. But, like you said – the men did their part! Thanks for dropping in to get this post.

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  21. 45,000 rounds of artillery and mortar fire fell

    I have read accounts of enduring a barrage but this seems indescribable.

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  22. I was absolutely amazed at the pile of casings from four days of battle. Wow!

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  23. Good history. That seems to be a common refrain–just doing what we had to. Or these heroes think they didn’t do enough. Can you tell I just watched ‘Lone Survivor’?

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    • Whoa, I sometimes find it way too difficult to watch a movie like that! More power to you! Yes, I agree, the soldiers are way too modest about their actions, but my father used to say – some didn’t even remember their heroics. He had found that most brave action come from instinct or after the body suffered some sort of shock – and they reacted without any forethought and had to be told later on what had transpired – whatever happened, In My Opinion, they deserve our thanks and all medals.

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  24. Always so informative as well as interesting… I am so happy that we can finally know so much of the truth now… thank you.

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  25. A good read, and many of the comments were a good read, too!

    Something my wise old grandmother always said: “Victors write history.”

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  26. I really enjoy reading the history as you write it. Keep it coming.

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  27. Equally amazing to their courage is their ability to survive. Both traits were embodied by the soldier covering a live grenade with his helmet. Too bad Charlie managed to thin them out before this story concluded, although it’s not surprising when you consider that they were outnumbered at each outpost by 15-20 to 1. I could read these stories all day. Glad someone wants to tell them.

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    • After starting this research, I was shocked that so few reputable historians did NOT report them! How can they publish a book about the first year and a half and then zip right to the end? I feel that is disrespectful.

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      • If anybody with common sense can understand that distinguished historians overlooked and outright ignored such paramount details, I assure you it’s not an accident. I could give you some ideas why I think that is… but they’re all different ways of saying: “How could we hope to revolt against an unjust government if we aren’t even aware of how brave we were during conflict in the past?”

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  28. Pvc Cross was certainly a determined soldier! (along with the others)

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  29. Against all odds – Wish a measure of this courage could somehow be instilled into all our national “leaders.” Thank-you for bringing these stories to light!

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  30. Hard to believe the amazing courage of these men…

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    • Right you are!! What gets me is, I have so many books on the Korean War and once it hit the “quiet time” they act as tho all the forces stood still staring at other across the MLR and then boom – the war was over. Thank goodness for the internet and Freedom of Information Act or I would never have found all this.

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