15th FA BN
2nd Infantry Division
Having been born in Tampa, Florida, my family moved to Miami when I was young. It was here that I enlisted in the U.S. Army in February of 1950.
During the first part of June, I finished my basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. After which time, I was sent to Seattle to wait for overseas deployment. Instead, we were all sent to Fort Lewis, Washington to fill vacant spots in the 2nd Infantry Division. A school classmate, who I joined with, was sent to the 9th Infantry Regiment and I went to B Battery of the 15th FA BN.
Arriving in Korea on the last day of July, we were sent directly to the front line. Those days on the Naktong were pure hell.
After the successful landing at Inchon, and the liberation of Seoul, we headed north. It was November and we were located in the North Korean town of Kunu-ri when the Chinese entered the war. The 2nd Infantry Division held the line while outfits on our left flank were able to get out. With the exception of us, and the 23rd Infantry Regiment, the rest of the division headed down a road only to run into the damnest roadblock ever. The Chinese had apparently broken through the ROK, who were on our right flank, and set up an ambush that was ten miles long. Our losses, both in men and equipment, were terrible. The 15th FA got out with most of its men, but lost all its guns.
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In early February of 1951, we stopped the Chinese at a town called Wonju. The 15th FA, the 1st Battalion of the 38th Infantry Regiment, a battery of 155 howitzers, some anti-aircraft units, and tanks—a total of 1,800 men—were sent up to support the ROK in their attack. We had set up for fire support, and sometime after dark the Chinese hit the ROK hard. The ROK soon collapsed and the Chinese came though getting some distance south of us. We tried to fight our way out, but they had the road well covered with automatic weapons and mortars. I was firing at the hills on both sides of the road as I began walking out. Soon I became separated from the rest of the unit, so I continued on alone.
At one point I was trading fire with a Chinese when an officer came running towards me yelling, “Don’t shoot. Those are our guys up there.” About that time a “Chink” fired a burst from his burp gun and with slugs hitting all around him, he took off running up the road screaming, “They are shooting at me.” It was funny later, but not at that moment.
I kept going all night and before daylight, I caught a slug that had glanced off the frozen road. It struck me in the middle of my forehead, knocking me to the ground. I don’t know how long I laid there, but it was getting light when I came to. After I was able to get to my feet, I continued moving down the road until I came across some soldiers under a bombed out bridge. We soon decided to head for a road that was on the opposite side of an open field. A sergeant, who I didn’t know, told me to cover them until they reached the road, then they would cover me. I fired until I ran out of ammo, but I noticed they weren’t firing to cover for me. As I looked around I saw them all running down the road, because they were being fired at from another hill.
I quickly jumped to my feet and ran to the road. There lying in ditch were roughly ten trucks that had been shot up. I crawled underneath one of them to get out of sight, and to get warm. Around noon, a flight of jets came soaring across the sky strafing the hill where we had been receiving fire. However, before they could get their fingers off the triggers, they were strafing the trucks—talk about something getting your attention.
The Chinese never came down to the trucks, so after dark I moved up into the hills. Wandering lost, sometime in the night, I came across a house set apart from a small village. Cautiously entering the house, I came upon four GI’s that were asleep. I had gone two days and nights without sleep, or food, so I laid down with them. Suddenly, I was rudely awakened by a “Chink” with a burp gun. After rounding us all up, we were put in a small compartment where the home owners kept their bedding. They must have been a rear echelon unit, because they didn’t know what to do with us. All day long our planes worked over the village and we were afraid they would eventually hit us, but they didn’t.
We were kept there for several days with only one ball of rice, which was about the size of a softball, for us and two ROK soldiers they had captured earlier. I believe it was the second night when they took us outside, where they pointed south and told us to go. Having beaten all of us, and my head bleeding all down my front, they probably thought we would die anyway. However, they kept the two ROK soldiers.
Having walked all night, the following morning we laid under a large rock on a ridge line. After dark we started walking again, and at one point we were paralleling the road when we heard the patter of tennis shoes on the frozen road. Quickly, we laid behind a bank along a rice paddy and watched what looked to be a battalion of Chinese trotting up the road. When they passed, we crossed a frozen river and found a burned out house just before daylight. We laid up there for the night. After daybreak, we looked out across a rice paddy and noticed a bombed out bridge. Under the bridge, fixing rice was an entire company of Chinese. We must have walked within a hundred yards of them.
Weak, and hungry, we decided it was time to move again. It started to snow. As we crossed over a hill in front of us we picked up the road into the valley. As we were walking along the road, the snow stopped. We looked to our left, and noticed up the hill about fifty yards were a bunch of Chinese digging in; they just stopped and watched as we walked by.
About a half-mile down the road we saw a welcomed sight—a unit of the 187th Airborne. We were evacuated to a Swedish Red Cross hospital back in Pusan and there to the 361st Army Hospital in Tokyo.
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Eventually, I was sent back home and then to Camp Gordon, Georgia. Eight months later I volunteered to go back. I would spend another year in Korea with a self-propelled 105 unit.