23rd Infantry Regiment
2nd Infantry Division
I was born in Kentucky on February 18, 1933. One weekend I went to see a movie at the local cinema, and the news reel said, “Join the Army and see the world.” The next morning I went to the post office to talk to the recruiting officer. I told him I was seventeen and wanted to join, but I was actually sixteen years old. He informed me that I needed to bring in my birth certificate, to verify that I was seventeen. When I asked my mother for it, she told me that it had been lost in the 1937 flood. The recruiter then explained to me that my mother would have to go to the courthouse and sign a notarized document stating that I was seventeen. She did. On August 29, 1949 I was sworn into the U.S. Army. Two days later I arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky to begin my basic training.
On the 22nd of December, after three-and-a-half months of training, I received orders to report to A Battery, 37th FA, 2nd Infantry Division, in Fort Lewis, Washington on January 2, 1950. Here I went through more training in driving a two-and-a-half ton truck, pulling a 105 Howitzer; along with firing the Howitzer, and laying phone wire. This lasted until July, when the 2nd Infantry Division was put on alert and shipped to Korea.
On the 5th of August, we arrived in Pusan, Korea. Three days later we were firing support missions for the infantry, until we were ordered to withdraw south of the Naktong River. The roads were jammed with refugees, making it hard to withdraw. Finally, we made it across the river and were ordered to set up and fire support for the withdrawing infantry. Word was soon passed all along the perimeter that the infantry was catching hell—especially at night.
Orders came down in late August that all rear echelon outfits were to send all available men they could spare, to the front line. Eleven of us were given an M-1 and sent to the front. I was assigned to Company B, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.
The next day I had my first experience of being in a barrage of artillery and mortar fire; I was so scared, I pissed in my pants and wanted to get out of there. The guy in the foxhole with me was scared too. He told me when the barrages stopped all hell would break loose. He continued by telling me that flares would be shot into the air, but for me not to look at them. Once this happened he told me to pull the pin from a hand grenade and be ready to throw it, and to shoot at anything I saw in front of us.
He was right. As soon as the barrages stopped, we heard them blowing their whistles and screaming “banzai.” Our booby-traps started going off and you could see movement in front us, firing all along the perimeter. You could hear yells for medics up and down the line. This went on until daylight began to break—then it was quiet. You still heard the calls for medics, and saw bodies lying all around.
The 30th and 31st of August was more of the same. During the day we would stack up on ammo, and grenades, in preparation for the night. Our wounded, and dead, were taken care of and sent back to Pusan. The third platoon had two wounded and one killed, who was the BAR man. I was assigned to take his place. My job was to cover the machine gunner when he yelled “reloading.” I covered him until he was able to start firing again.
Our platoon sergeant had us move to another position to give support to an area that was getting hit pretty hard. Moving out in the open was scary as hell. Having just spent three days in combat—at the age of seventeen—I soon learned that what they put us through at Fort Knox was going to work.
On the 1st of September, orders came down from General’s MacArthur and Walker that we were not to give up one-inch of territory—we were to hold regardless of cost. We began to fix our foxholes, and gather all the ammo and grenade we could get. Supplies, along with needed replacements, were coming from Pusan. However, with the roads being jammed they were having trouble getting through. Plus, the North Koreans were posing as refugees and hitting the supply convoys at night.
The nights were miserable with mosquitoes and the smell of the dead.
On the night of September 4th, they hit us hard with our company getting overrun at the left flank. My foxhole buddy and I were moved over to help the left flank, and our first platoon was in hand-to-hand combat with the North Koreans that had broken through our lines. Again, as daylight approached the fighting began to lighten up. Even though the first platoon had taken casualties, which were being taken care of, they inflicted more casualties on the enemy. As bodies littered the area, they had some Korean civilians to come and remove the dead that the North Koreans had left behind.
Around mid-morning on the fifth, we noticed the North Koreans removing their dead from the river banks. We began to shoot at them, but were told to stop so we wouldn’t waste our ammunition.
It was around midnight on the sixth and we had been under an hour long artillery barrage when we heard our booby-traps rattle. These were C-ration cans, with rocks in them, attached to barbed wire that had been stretched out in front of our position. Suddenly, flares began to explode and we could see the enemy everywhere in front of our position. After firing for over two hours, they began to infiltrate our positions. It now came down to hand-to-hand combat; you grabbed anything you could to fight with. Your basic training only helps so much; the rest is up to you. The company lost two men that night. And again the North Koreans paid a heavier price.
Later that evening we received word that a supply convoy had arrived at the assembly area, so a detail was formed to go bring back the supplies. My foxhole buddy and I were chosen to go along to provide support in case they were attacked. When we arrived they already had some Koreans, with their A-frame packs, loaded with supplies. As we started back, it began to rain hard, which made our return trip up the mountain slow. We finally made it back and the supplies were unloaded, and handed out.
Things were quiet between the seventh and ninth and word was going around that MacArthur was going to land the Marines at Inchon—this got everyone’s spirits up. I thought I would finally get back to A Battery, and get off the front line—at least that is what I had hoped for.
At noon on September 12th, we went to eat chow and the first guys that went down came back with C-rations—the cook tent was gone. This made us think the company would be moving to another location, which didn’t happen.
On the thirteenth, around 3:00 PM, planes started hitting the hill across the river from us with napalm; after they left, the artillery started. The following morning, around 9:00 AM, our platoon was called together and informed that the Marines would start their amphibious landing—at Inchon—at 6:00 AM on the morning of the fifteenth. If they were successful, we were to start our counterattack. Company B was given the mission to take a hill that was located a mile-and-a-half in front of the river, which we were to hold until we were relieved. At 8:00 AM on the sixteenth, we crossed the river in DUCKS.
With light casualties, we took the hill around 2:00 PM. On the hill we found several dead GI’s that had their hands tied behind their backs. That day, a lot of us men—from Company B—swore we would never be taken alive. Six days later we were relieved by the ROK.
Around 2:00 AM, on the morning of the twenty-second, the company took on light gunfire on our front. Roughly an hour-and-a-half later, our right flank began to take on heavy fire. They said they could hold, but they up and ran off leaving our right flank wide open. This is where the North Koreans hit the company. Our company commander was killed and I took a bullet in my left leg. We weren’t able to hold, and were ordered to withdraw. My foxhole buddy, along with another soldier, helped me down the hill where a medic took care of my leg. I was then placed in an ambulance and taken to a hospital in Pusan.
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On October 7th, I was cleared to return to duty. I reported to the assembly area where I was given new clothes; two pair of fatigue pants and shirts, two pair of socks, new boots, an M-1 rifle, two grenades, one bandoleer of ammo, a field belt, a canteen, and a first-aid kit.
At 8:00 AM on the eighth, a convoy left Pusan returning forty-three men to their units. It was a slow trip, because the road was jammed with refugees; they were everywhere you looked. Women were carrying babies on their backs, and buckets on their heads—they looked like walking dead. After we crossed the Naktong, we could see where the planes, and artillery, had done a job on the villages, as well as what the North Koreans had done. As we passed through towns you could see burnt bodies from the napalm. And in the fields you could see the dead livestock. Then there was the horrible smell.
Finally, after an all day miserable truck ride, we reached the assembly area where we were able to get a hot meal. I was told that Baker Company was located on a hill, which was hard to climb with my leg still hurting. However, the climb helped work out the soreness. When I reached our company, I was given my BAR back along with my foxhole buddy. He told me the Marines were ahead of us and that our division was getting a few days rest. During this time our new replacements were going on patrols to learn what to do, plus help get them in shape for climbing the hills of Korea.
Orders came down for Baker Company to move to a position on a hill that overlooked Seoul. The Marines had already gone through the city and we were to mop up. However, the orders were changed and we were to stay in our position—the ROK got the job.
After ten days, we moved to a new assembly area where we received supplies and were told we were going on the attack. Other countries had sent troops to Korea, who were now on the front line, and we were all going on the offensive. The North Koreans were in full retreat and we were going to hit them hard, and end the war. Our objective was to take a certain town in North Korea, and set up a perimeter.
The following afternoon, around 2:00 PM, with the help of tanks and twin-40’s, we took our objective and set up a roadblock. Patrols were sent out daily, and one of them found fifty mutilated bodies. Our interpreter couldn’t get any of the local civilians to tell us who did this. We stayed here until the 20th of November when we were relieved by a ROK unit. We went to an assembly area where we were fed a Thanksgiving Dinner, and outfitted for another mission. While here we were not only fed hot meals, but we were able to take hot showers. And being on the front-line since the 21st of October, we definitely were in need of them.
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Orders came down that in any day we would be moving north, through the 9th Infantry Regiment, to attack. As we were to push to the Yalu River, rumor had it that MacArthur said we would be home by Christmas.
After all three battalions had finished their Thanksgiving Dinner; we were taken by trucks to a large assembly area. To our right, about two-thousand yards, was a high mountain. Dug in ahead of us was the 9th Infantry Regiment. Our platoon sergeant told us to gather our gear, then he took us to our position; he placed two men between the tanks, which we told him was a bad idea. He said since we would be jumping off at 0600 the following morning, there was no need for us to dig foxholes.
Around 2300 hours we began to hear small arms fire to our front, then flares began to go off and the firing became heavier. Quickly our platoon sergeant came over and told everyone to grab everything and to take up positions facing the river. As soon as we and the tanks were in position, flares began to light up the sky and we could see the area was crawling with Chinese. We opened up on them along with our tanks and twin-40’s—it was like a turkey shoot. This continued until daylight, and then it got deathly quiet. G.W. and I got out our trench tools and began digging ourselves a foxhole. We were about half done when we came under a barrage of artillery and mortar fire. When there was a lull in the shelling, we started throwing dirt like crazy—and we weren’t the only ones.
When the Chinese hit us, they hit every outfit along the front. Everyone was confused because no one knew where they came from. After surveying the damage, we had lost the high ground to our right; the Chinese were now looking down our throats. A field artillery unit had been caught off guard and had to flee, leaving all their howitzers behind; every outfit was trying to regroup. Around 0800 hours, we were told we would be attacking up the valley—to open up the road—so the 9th Infantry Regiment could withdraw. The Chinese had the road blocked, and it was their only way out.
Every man—that could use a weapon—from every unit was being send forward, and with tanks and twin-40’s for support, we attacked. After five hours of hard fighting, we were able to open up the road and the 9th began to withdraw through our lines. It was getting late in the afternoon, and it was bitterly cold; no one had winter clothes. Orders came for us to pull back; however, stragglers were still coming through.
Baker Company was told to swing around to our right and to try to retake the hill that had been lost earlier. The 9th would be attacking from the other side. This hill was later known as the Chinaman Hat. Our attack failed, causing us to withdraw back inside the perimeter.
The night of November 27th was quiet and bitterly cold. Men were beginning to get frost bitten feet, and we were beat from having very little sleep. Our sergeant told us to send one man from each foxhole to go bring back anything they could find to eat, plus ammo. Word had it that we might be pulling out and we would have to travel by foot. G.W. came back with a five pound can of Spam, bread, and all the can heat, ammo and C-rations he could carry.
On the twenty-eighth, under the cover of darkness, a convoy of wounded, two companies, and tanks, started out through the pass. We had received orders to destroy everything that couldn’t be moved. After setting fires, and blowing up all our equipment, we moved out. Around 2300 hours the roadblock that the convoy had passed through an hour earlier came under attack and was taking on heavy fire. The outfit responsible for blocking the road was unable to keep it open, so they began to withdraw. The ROK came under fire around 0200, and they fled into the hills leaving our flank wide open. The 2nd BN was quickly moved into a blocking position in the vicinity of Won-ni.
The 2nd Division served as rear guard for the rest of the Eighth Army, as they proceeded through the pass. We were to hold, and give the convoy at least a ten hour head start—if possible. When darkness began to set in, we were to start our withdrawal. It was close to 0500 hours on the thirtieth when we caught up with the rear of the convoy, for they were having trouble keeping it moving. We were there for over twelve hours before the convoy finally started moving again; the division had to dig in for the night.
The company dug in on a hill, and set booby-traps to our front. It wasn’t long before the booby-traps started going off, then here they came—in white uniforms to blend in with the snow. They broke through our lines and we were soon engaged in hand-to-hand combat; we were holding as daylight approached. Our wounded and dead, were loaded onto a two-and-a-half ton truck, until it was full, then sent out through the pass.
I was shaking so bad from the cold, I could hardly hold my cup to get a sip of coffee. My feet hurt like hell because of the cold—even wearing two pairs of socks didn’t help. Plus, we had cut up our blankets and wrapped them around our boots; we did anything we could to keep warm.
On the 1st of December, around 0300 hours, we came to a roadblock that had been set up by UN forces. We immediately took up positions on some high ground on both sides of the road. We were told to hold until we received orders to withdraw. Having made our way up a hill, we tried to dig in but the ground was frozen. It was about an hour later when orders came to withdraw. As we were coming down the hill, the roadblock came under fire and men began to run everywhere; firing as they ran.
G.W. and I came across two GI’s that were helping their wounded buddy, so we quickly helped them to get him down to the road. When daylight approached, the attack eased up. Orders came down for us to keep moving, as air support was on the way. It was another six or seven miles to the end of the pass. Here a defensive line had been set up and we were to join it.
We had become separated from our company and we tried to locate it, but no one knew where it was. The wounded GI that we had stopped to help died. He was placed with the other dead. The wounded, and those with frostbitten feet, were loaded onto trucks to be moved out first.
G.W. and I were able to get some coffee, and a sandwich to eat; then we got some ammo and hand grenades. We were instructed to find a place anywhere along the line where we could provide fire support. After hours of digging, we finally finished our foxhole. G.W. went to see if he could find some can-of-heat, which he did along with some blankets. We used the blankets to sit on in our foxhole. We lit the can-of-heat and took our boots off to warm our feet, and checked them for frostbite.
We were told that when morning came a truck would be taking us to an assembly area. All day long stragglers were coming in, and GI’s were running out to help them. Medics were going up and down the line, asking if everyone was alright. G.W. went around asking about our company, when he met other guys like us—separated from their company. Around 1500 hours, word came down the line for one man from each foxhole to go eat, and then they were to come back so the other man could eat. After we had eaten, G.W. went back out again to find our company. When he returned, he said the company was scattered all up and down the line. We were to stay put until morning, then we would all join up—after breakfast—at the road.
Here we joined up with what was left of Baker Company; it was extremely cold and due to frostbite, some men could barely walk. Under the cover of air support, we moved to the next defensive line. The Chinese were right behind us, but we made it to the line.
Our outfit continued on, setting up another defensive line further down the road. Then the next day lines began leapfrogging through each other. This continued until we reached a town where we set up a perimeter. The weather was miserable—snowing all through the night. We held the Chinese back until the 3rd of December, then we withdrew to the south.
A lot of good men from all units across Korea were lost. Baker Company itself was in bad shape; we were down to about half a company. Chinaman’s Hat was a battle that no man who was there can ever forget—I can’t. Had it not been for the U.S. Air Force, the 2nd Infantry Division would have been annihilated. We owe those guys our thanks.
Somehow intelligence screwed up—they should have known the Chinese were in North Korea.
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We continued to use this leap-frog maneuver as we withdrew until mid-December, when the French Battalion moved up to help strengthen up the 23rd Infantry Regiment. After a fierce fire fight, the Chinese seemed to have eased up to the point we were able to build fires to get warm. However, there were always men manning foxholes to keep watch.
Orders came down for Baker Company, and the French Battalion, to take a town that was said to have four to five hundred North Koreans there. After a few hours, the North Koreans withdrew to the hills.
Again, with the help of tanks and twin-40’s, we set up another roadblock. The 37th FA was brought up to give us fire support, if we needed it. There were small attacks during the morning hours, but they were always beaten back. It seemed the Chinese had stopped their attacks, because after every fire fight we only found dead North Koreans.
It was near the end of December, when our company was given another mission; take another town and set up a roadblock. Along with the French, tanks, twin-40’s, artillery, and planes, we started our mission. We headed down the road with two platoons on each side. As we neared the town, we saw that a roadblock had already been set up. We radioed battalion headquarters to see if there were any friendly forces in the town. After waiting for two hours, the tanks started moving up the road towards the roadblock. As they approached, they came under fire; planes were called in to hit the roadblock. When they hit, we attacked and took the town—what was left of it. And what we found would have made anyone sick! Civilian women and children, butchered; elderly men and women had been shot. This had all been done—to their own people—by North Korean soldiers.
Here we set up a roadblock; the tanks and twin-40’s were placed in the middle, with our company on one side and the French on the other side. The next morning more outfits moved in, and surrounded the town. Our medics helped the local civilians the best they could. Everyone had settled in for a counterattack, but there was only a small fire fight involving one of the companies that was located on a hill.
There would be no Christmas Dinner for Baker Company, or any other company that was in the hills surrounding the town. Having been told we would be home before Christmas, the men were not in a very good mood; we were still fighting, and freezing our asses off.
The 2nd Infantry Division was relieved by the ROK on the 28th of December, and we moved to an assembly area near Seoul. A lot of us missed reveille the following morning, because we had gone into town to party. They almost put the whole company on report, but we didn’t care. After being on the front line for six months, us men from Baker Company felt we were entitled to a little relaxation. This came to an end on New Years Eve, as the 2nd was ordered back to the front. Once our equipment had been replaced, and were supplied with ammo and hand grenades, we were ready to move out.
Baker Company was given the mission to destroy an enemy roadblock. We were to jump off at 0600 hours on New Years Day, 1951. So, men wrote letters home that night. G.W. wrote my mother a letter for me.
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The 2nd Infantry Division, and the French, had set up a line of defense—in South Korea. Word came down for us to set out booby-traps, and to be ready for a big attack. We fixed our foxholes to take artillery and mortar fire, stocked them with ammo and grenades, but the attack never materialized. Patrols were sent out—within three miles of our position—to see if they could locate the enemy. They returned without ever making contact, so headquarters wanted a patrol sent to the Twin Tunnels to see if the enemy was located in that area.
On the 28th of January, a motorized patrol was sent out from Fox and Charlie Companies. When they returned, they reported the same thing—no enemy. Headquarters wasn’t satisfied, so the following day they sent out another patrol, which consisted of forty-four men and two platoon leaders. They had six barmen, one 75mm and one 57mm recoilless rifles, and one 3.5 rocket launcher. The patrol was ambushed by two-hundred Chinese, which forced them to leave their vehicles and run up a hill where they had to set up to defend themselves. Unfortunately, twenty guys who had joined Charlie Company only four days earlier, stayed with their vehicles—they were all killed.
A larger patrol was sent to rescue the other patrol, but they too got into a fierce fire fight. So, the rest of the company and the French were sent to help. We ended up in a three day battle that cost the division and French over 1300 casualties. However, there were over 4000 Chinese casualties.
This was later known as the Slaughter at Twin Tunnels.
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During the 1st and 2nd of February, our wounded were evacuated to the battalion aid station. Baker Company, along with the French, four tanks and two twin-40’s, set up a perimeter around the 37th FA. The entire 2nd Division was to take the town of Chipyong-ni, which was a few miles from the Twin Tunnels.
On the 3rd of February, under a heavy barrage of fire from our artillery, mortars, tanks and twin-40’s, we took the town. The following day we moved into the town, with Baker Company, and the French being placed in reserves. Messages were coming in that the Chinese were coming over the mountains on both our flanks—the town was surrounded.
Six days later, on the ninth, Baker Company was sent to Hill 503, which was located about three-and-a-half miles out of town. We were to take the hill, then report back if we noticed any enemy troop movement. It took us several hours to climb to the top of the hill, because of the deep snow. Lucky for us, there was no enemy when we reached the top. If we had seen any Chinese, the liaison officer was to call in for artillery support. It was extremely cold that night and we all wanted off that miserable hill, but we were ordered to stay.
Our right flank was attacked during the morning of the eleventh, but by daylight the enemy withdrew. Two men had been wounded and a few men were to take them back to base camp. Later that afternoon the men returned saying they had run into some Chinese, and they had left the two wounded men at the bottom of the hill. The company CO reported the enemy sighting to the battalion and requested for us to return to base camp—request denied. Around 1400 hours, battalion called back telling us to return. When we reached the bottom of the hill, we found the two wounded soldiers—dead and naked. We collected their bodies and carried them back to the aid station. Needless to say, a lot of men were mad at the allies who left them. If an officer hadn’t been present, those men would have been shot.
When we finally reached camp, we were able to get a good, hot meal. G.W. and I gathered up all the can-heat we could find, then we went to our foxholes, took our boots off and changed our socks. That night around 2300 hours, flares and artillery started going off, which lasted until daylight. Word soon spread that our supply road was cut off, and that a company from the 38th Infantry Regiment had been annihilated. To our rear, another outfit was engaged in a fierce firefight—the Chinese and North Koreans were everywhere.
Early morning of the twelfth, the French—who were to our right—were hit hard. Our tanks, and twin-40’s, moved so they could hit the Chinese as they were going up the backside of the hill. However, the French called them off, fixed their bayonets and went into hand-to-hand combat; they had a lot of casualties. All day long, helicopters from the aid station were evacuating the wounded.
On the night of the thirteenth, the perimeter around Chipyong-ni was taking light fire, which stopped at 2100 hours. Then all hell broke loose! As artillery and mortar fire started hitting inside our perimeter, the mess tent was hit and set on fire. Some men were killed when the battalion command tent was hit. They kept shelling for hours; while my foxhole buddy and I were both trying to get deeper in the hole, hoping a shell wouldn’t get us. When it stopped, the bugles and whistles started blowing, and the yells of “Bonsai” started, which scares the hell out of you.
Charlie Company was getting hit hard, and taking on casualties. The sarge came over and told G.W. and me to take my BAR [Browning automatic rifle], and go help—which we did until daylight. Of the fourteen clips I took, I fired ten, which totaled two-hundred rounds.
The following day wasn’t any better. Fox and George Companies were getting hit hard; booby-traps were going off, flares going up everywhere, and the Chinese kept coming. Air support was called for and around 1530 hours they came in flying low, due to the bad weather. As they came in to drop their loads, the Chinese fired at them. Artillery and mortar fire kept coming in, and men were going up and down the line passing out ammo and hand grenades—casualties were mounting in these two companies.
Later that night, the Chinese pulled an all out attack—on every position. Baker Company, and one platoon from the French Battalion, was called out of reserve to mount a counterattack and take back ground that had been lost by Fox and George Companies. As our platoon sergeant was gathering up everyone, the French had already left and were at the bottom of the hill when we arrived. After several attempts, and many casualties, we started up the hill again. We were within fifty yards of the top when we came under fire; we returned fire, and kept climbing. When we finally reached the top, I jumped into a foxhole and began to lay down fire from my BAR. Our planes were flying overhead and when the weather broke, targets were called in for them to hit. As the Chinese began to withdraw, the planes came in dropping napalm bombs—catching them in the open.
Suddenly, I was flying through the air and not knowing what had happened, I was scared to death. I hurt all over and couldn’t hear a thing as I was pulled by another soldier down the hill. As I looked around I didn’t see G.W. anywhere. I was taken to the aid station. Here they put some stuff in my ears, wrapped my left wrist, and sat me down on a locker. It was over an hour before my hearing come back. I then asked if I could leave, which they said was okay. However, they told me to come back if my hearing left again. By the time I got back to the top of the hill, the Chinese were in full retreat. The foxhole that I was in had a big hole in front of it and my BAR had been damaged beyond repair. Since I had not been able to find GW, I asked if anyone had seen him. That’s when one of the guys gave me the bad news—he had been killed.
I immediately went down to the aid station to look for his body. When I found him, I just sat down and cried. He was my foxhole buddy from the first day I transferred from the 37th FA. For six months we had been through hell together, now we would never get to go on that deer hunting trip we had always talked about.
We lost half of our company; either wounded or killed. Three platoon sergeants were killed, among them was ours; he was a swell guy. Two lieutenants were killed, and one wounded.
I returned to my foxhole and took the letter G.W. wrote my mother out of his pack. I also took the letter he wrote to his mother and sent it with the next outgoing mail. Then I took the rest of his belongings to the supply sergeant so they could be shipped home.
I found the body of my drill sergeant that I had during my basic training at Fort Knox. I never knew he was in Fox Company, but I wish I had—I sure would have liked to thank him for all he taught me. That night, while alone in my foxhole—I cried again. Every year on a special day, I remember G.W. by standing up and saluting him. Then I thank him for being my buddy.
On the sixteenth they began cleaning up the frozen, dead bodies. The local civilians were paid to bury them. It was a sad sight seeing all those bodies lying all along the perimeter; it was said they numbered in the thousands. The following day a convoy started coming in and we were able to get new clothes. I also received a new BAR, which I had to disassemble and clean the grease out of.
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On March 1, 1951, Baker and Charlie Companies were to lead an attack with artillery support. An L-5 spotter plane flew overhead to call in air support, if we ran into trouble. As two tanks and two twin-40’s advanced along the road, their color panels got screwed up and the wrong panels were placed on the tanks; the jets came within a hair of firing on them, but pulled up just at the right moment.
Our objective was to take a hill where the Chinese had already dug in. As Charlie Company came under heavy fire, both companies withdrew. So, the L-5 called in some jets, which strafed the hillside, and dropped some napalm. Then the artillery was called in and they fired for an hour.
Later that afternoon, with few casualties, the hill was secured. We were told to set up a perimeter and be ready for a counterattack. Baker Company began receiving artillery fire on their position during the early hours of March 2nd. When the shelling stopped, the blowing of bugles and whistles, along with the screaming began, which was accompanied with small arms fire. Then Charlie Company came under fire; which lasted until daybreak. Both companies held their ground with very few casualties; Baker Company had six and Charlie Company had nine. There were enemy bodies lying all over the place.
After the fighting had stopped we began searching the bodies of the enemy, some of which had property belonging to GI’s. Items such as wallets, watches, and rings—you name it, they had it. Some even had on GI clothes. Men were so outraged at the sight of the enemy wearing rings that belonged to GI’s. They had cut off their fingers to retrieve the rings. Needless to say, Military Code 20-4 had gone out the window.
* * * * * *
War in Korea was going from one mountain to another. Along with the French, the 2nd Infantry Division moved in the Marines position on this one particular hill. The 2nd placed men on both sides of a road, with the tanks and twin-40’s on the road. On the 4th of April, all hell broke loose in the valley. Artillery shells started raining down on the mountain to our front, as the 2nd and the French began their attack through the mountains. Soon, the artillery let up and the jets took over.
This went on for days, as we took one mountain after another. Every morning at 0700 hours, we would start our advancement as soon as the artillery eased up, and the planes started up. It was difficult getting our wounded down the hills and our supplies up the mountains. Men were tired and knowing that we would be moving out the first thing in the morning, we didn’t even bother digging foxholes.
After six days of going up and down those mountains, Baker Company came under heavy fire, which pinned us down about halfway up one of the mountains. Neither artillery nor planes were called in; because they were afraid they might hit us. We were trying to withdraw when some of the new replacements got up and ran—they got hit. This went on for two hours before we could withdraw with the wounded and dead far enough down the hill so our tanks and twin-40’s could provide us with cover. Finally, we were back far enough so the artillery, and planes, could be called in. They hit the hill and the men that were left from Baker Company, along with the French, attacked and secured the hill.
We stayed there for two days, and then we were on the move again. The men began to wonder when we were going to stop and rest. Men were so tired they were falling out of line, and could hardly climb the hills—let alone fight. We had become tired of sleeping in foxholes, eating C-rations, and most of all—we stunk.
Days of being on the attack, and constantly climbing mountain after mountain, were beginning to take its toll on the company. Morale was getting bad. We needed a rest! Taking a second hill, we saw a big lake and a town; here our attack stopped. Orders came down for us to dig in and set up booby-traps, and to send out patrols. Finally, we were getting a much needed rest. It was late April and the weather was beginning to get better.
Word was passed down that the enemy was using a trail that led out of the village, and that there was a lot of activity there. Two platoons, one each from Baker and Charlie Companies, were sent out during the night to set up an ambush along the trail. About an hour out, the platoons came under fire—we had walked into a trap. We called for help and they sent the French. After a two hour firefight, the enemy left. The darkness of night made it difficult to tend to the wounded, of which we had several, plus six men that had been killed. One of those wounded was my foxhole buddy—Bob—who had only been with the company for two months.
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During the first weeks of May 1951, the weather had become hot and rainy. The division was moved into a new position on the front line. Word had it there was a large build up of enemy forces in a sector they called No Name Line. We had received some new replacements and they were put through training on firing the different weapons, and going on patrols. Now that it had turned hot, we had to put up with mosquitoes and the awful smell of the rice paddies.
Our division was in the center, an ROK outfit was to our left, and the French were to our rear. All companies had set out their booby-traps, and flares.
Early one morning, the expected enemy offensive began hitting our division. Bugles and whistles were blowing, and everywhere you looked you saw the enemy. All hell had broken out along the line, with the fighting continuing all through the night. We beat back attack after attack, until the enemy withdrew at daylight. All up and down the line, the wounded and dead were collected and taken to the battalion aid station.
The following night, the ROK was hit hard and they took off—no one knew to where. The divisions left flank was now getting hit hard. Some of the French, with platoons from Baker and Charlie Companies, were called in to fill the gap that had been created when the ROK bailed out. We came under heavy fire and had to withdraw under the support of artillery and tanks. The fighting went on until daylight, and then the men from Baker and Charlie Companies made a counterattack, taking back the ground that had been lost.
Before noon, the enemy counterattacked in full force. Our planes, and artillery, were slowing them down, but they kept coming. The men manning machine guns were doing all they could and men in their foxholes were running short on ammo and grenades.
We were told to withdraw to a new position, but no one knew the location of the position. So, everyone headed for the rear with the enemy hot on our trail. We were unable to call in air support, because the enemy was too close. Even the tanks and twin-40’s were of little help, because they were also withdrawing. The enemy had gone around the division and set up a roadblock. If this was not taken care of soon, we would be surrounded. One company, with tanks and twin-40’s, was sent to clear out the roadblock. It was two hours before it was clear enough so the division could pass through.
Finally, the division was taken off the line during the first of June. We were sent to the rear where we received new clothes, and replacements. As we got paid, we were allowed to go into town. Here the men bought things to send home.
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While we were in a rear assembly area, we were able to get a well deserved hot shower, and a hair cut. Word was spreading around that the men who came over with the 23rd would be rotating home. Some men were going to Japan every week for R&R, which took ten-to-twelve days for a round trip.
There were seven of us left from with the company since the beginning, and during the last two days of June we were flown to Japan. We returned on the 10th of July and caught up with the rest of the company, which was at an assembly area. After arriving five of the guys were rotated home, leaving two of us.
Orders came down for the division to move out; we were going to relieve the Marines and take over their position. After we were on the line, with the French to our left, we sent out night patrols to set up ambushes. Word had it that the enemy was amassing a large force, so L-5’s were sent out everyday. They only reported seeing a few enemy troops in the hills. Every morning I hoped to be called to rotate home, but it didn’t come; we moved to a new position.
Several days later, we received orders to take, and secure, the high ground that overlooked a village. Word had it the enemy was stock piling supplies in the village. A patrol was sent out to investigate, and destroy the supplies. Having found the supplies, and setting the village on fire, the patrol returned without ever seeing the enemy.
During the later part of July, Baker Company was ordered to take a hill and secure it for an outpost; with tanks and twin-40’s for support, we attacked. After two hours of heavy fighting, we withdrew. The artillery and planes were called in, then, after five hours of fighting we attacked again securing the hill. During the fighting I was hit in my back right shoulder, with a piece of shrapnel. Since the medic fixed me up, and it wasn’t a bad wound, it was not recorded. I went to the company CO and told him I couldn’t take it anymore—my nerves were shot. He told me to hang in there for a few more weeks, as I should be rotated home.
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One day I was called out and told to pack my things, and report to headquarters—I was going home. Another soldier was told the same thing; we were the last two men that went to Korea in July of 1950.
While at headquarters, we were assigned guard duty around the Battalion Aid Station, to check the refugees as they passed through our area. We stayed there until the first of September, and then we caught a convoy back to Pusan, and shipped out.
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In November 1951, I arrived in Seattle, Washington. There I was paid and given a complete set of Army clothes. Then I was given a train ticket to Canton, Ohio, along with a thirty day furlough, after which time I was to report to Indian Gap, Pennsylvania. I served my last year of service in Germany.