~~Fifty-Seven~~

Calvin Harwick

9th Infantry Regiment

2nd Infantry Division

U.S. Army

I was born in Byron, Minnesota on June 5, 1929.

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I had been in the National Guard for two-and-a-half years, and was due to be discharged in June of 1951. However, my time was extended for another twelve months because of the war in Korea.

On the 2nd of January, 1951, our division, the 47th Infantry was called to active duty. My company—Company C, 135th Infantry Regiment—left Rochester, Minnesota on the twenty-first by train. It was twenty below zero as we headed to Camp Rucker, Alabama. Here we received more training in firing of weapons, map reading, first aid, and more.

In March, my wife Beverly and I were married. At the end of August, a buddy and I volunteered to go to Korea. After a two week furlough, we shipped out; however, Beverly didn’t find out that I had volunteered until I returned home from the war.

After traveling a few days by train from St. Paul, we arrived in Seattle and were taken by trucks to Fort Lewis. Here we went through processing, and a few days later, were taken to Pier 91. It was here that we boarded the troop transport ship, Simon Buckner.

We sailed to Japan where we went through more processing, then shipped out to Inchon, South Korea. From here we were taken, by trucks, to HQ CO, 3rd BN, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, and I was assigned as a field wireman. It was around the first of October and truce talks had been going on since July—at Kaesong—with no progress; so, they had been called off.

In the meantime, the 2nd Division was engaged in a battle for a group of hills, which included Hill 931—known as Heartbreak Ridge—south of Mundung-ni. At the end of the battle, around the 20th of October, the division went into reserve for rest—after one-hundred three days of continuous combat—and to bring the division back up to strength. While we were in reserve, Vice-President Alben Barkley presented the division with the President’s Unit Citation it had earned in May of 1951, at the battle of the Soyang River.

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During the first part of December, we went back on the line to replace the 25th Infantry Division, who was near Chorwon—in the Iron Triangle. The Iron Triangle was marked by the cities of Chorwon, on the west, Pyongyang to the north, and Kumhwah on the east. The triangle was roughly fifty miles north of the 38th parallel and centrally located in Korea.

The communist agreed to resume the truce talks, with the defeat of the North Koreans at Heartbreak. This in turn brought about a break in the fighting during the winter months of 1951-52. We had a kitchen set up and were served hot meals, along with traditional turkey dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas. On New Years Eve, every available infantry, tank, and artillery opened up, with a tremendous barrage; to wish the communist forces a not too happy New Year.

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Some highlights, or experiences, of my tour include one day when we were out checking phone lines, we got caught in a barrage of mortar fire. We immediately took cover in a ditch, where we laid for an hour. Another time we were clearing some old lines when one of our guys hit a tripwire, setting off a mine—slightly wounding one of the guys.

When filling up our canteens, we usually did so from one of the numerous springs that ran down from the hills. Having gone back to one we had used earlier, we found a dead Korean lying in the stream. Needless to say, we never got water from that stream again.

In our last reserve area, we set up our tents in a draw on the hillside. The following morning a Russian MIG flew over, from the backside of the hill, firing at us. Lucky for us, he overshot our encampment and kept on going. However, it caused all of us to head for the hills.

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In April of 1952, the 3rd Battalion went into reserve and after a week or so, we went back on line. It would be my last move. The first sergeant came to me, about a week later, and told me I had one hour to pack up; I was going home—after seven months in Korea.

I was taken by truck to a train station and from there to Inchon. Here we—everyone that was going home—loaded into a landing craft, which took us to a ship that was anchored in the harbor. We sailed to Sasebo, Japan, where we were processed, took a hot shower, and issued new uniforms. After staying here two days, we boarded a ship bound for San Francisco.

Sailing into the city was a beautiful sight; the city on the side of a hill, and the Golden Gate Bridge to the left, which we sailed under.

Finally, I arrived at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, where on May 14, 1952, I was discharged—the same day I arrived at the camp.

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