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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

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