~~Fifty-Five~~

David Hughes

7th Cavalry Regiment

1st Cavalry Division

U.S. Army

I graduated from West Point on June 6, 1951.

After the end of World War II, the military began to downsize. The 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was one of the occupational units stationed in Japan at the end of the war, was cut to two battalions. However, you never went to war with only two battalions. So, when the Korean War broke out, the third battalion trained on the ships that carried them to Korea.

During November 1950, I arrived in Korea, and was assigned to K Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment. When I arrived the temperature was thirty degrees below zero.

* * * * * *

On September 1951, we began our journey to take Hill 347, which took fifteen days. Company K consisted of seven officers—including myself—and one-hundred sixty-nine men. Little did we know we would be going up against a full Chinese battalion, roughly six-hundred fifty men. We were supported by the 70th Tank BN, but the hill was so steep that no tank could get to the top. The enemy constantly rained artillery and mortar shells down on us. Company K lost fifteen men, except for me—all officers. We killed two-hundred fifty enemy soldiers, and took another one-hundred ninety-two as prisoners.

* * * * * *

The following is an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to Captain John Flynn in February 1952:

...I learned and saw enough since you left to write ten books, all of them different. Personalities rose and fell, battles swelled and diminished, boys became men, and men became memories.

The Regiment fought like a demon for some pieces of ground and suffered incredible casualties defending it. And then, partly because of the casualties, the division was pulled out and replaced. It was time. The 1st Cavalry Division was left only with a smattering of strength...

We soon were relieved on the hill and went back to another part of the regimental front where the 1st Battalion had just been overrun; it was left with a captain as commander and had only 200 men...

...The 1st Cavalry Division had taken a real pounding; it never suffered more casualties in an equal period during its tour in Korea...

The months of September and October of 1951 were the bloodiest months for the 7th Cavalry. All three battalions suffered heavy casualties, but the first battalion suffered the most.

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