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Marine Vignettes #57--60 

About The Chosin Resevoir!
By Pete Hildre
February 1, 1999
As this is close to Christmas I will try to tell what sticks in my mind About the Chosin Resevoir!
I don't remember the dates, as each day ran into another. We had come into  Hagaru. I believe it was about dusk. I saw a Corsair crash land in a rice paddy. The plane bounced over each dike, and the pilot finally brought it to a stop. He climbed out and was okay.
We gathered at some huts that were warm and quickly fell asleep. After what seemed like a few minutes, we were back on the road to Koto-ri and it was pitch black. The column moved at a snail's pace and it was stop and go. When daylight came, we were still quite a ways from Koto-ri and about noon we met a road block. The road followed a riverand had high banks along the side of it. As we came to the bend in the road, the call came out for How Co. Sitting in the corner of the bend was a Marine with the thousand yard stare, just shaking in a crouched position, I don't believe he was with How Co.
We crawled over the banks to a hail of small arms fire. Our gun was set up between some small huts, and I believe Crockerwas on the gun and he still had his leggings on. He let out a yell, because a bullet had hit the buckle on his legging.
To his right behind the huts was the C.O. Captain Williamson, and Lt. Preston (60mmMortars) To our left in front of a small hut, a group of Chinese Prisoners. Some had bare feet that were frozen solid. Lt. preston kept hollering for me to fire my M-1. I could not see a target, and for fear of hitting our guys in front, I fired a clip into the hills in front of us.
When we had them on the run, we picked up and ran to the front. Peter Coraci was next to me, and we uncovered a cave that had a straw mat over it. We pulled the mat back, and there were 3 Chinese in the hole. Peter hollered, E T WA! and they pulled the pin on a grenade and killed themselves rather than surrender. We again went back to the main column on the road. In the early afternoon we walked thru Hell Fire Valley. No one said a word--we didn't have to. It was a sight that must be burned in the minds of all who saw it. Dead Marines were everywhere., in trucks and on the road, frozen like statues where they died. The word went out not to touch them for fear they were booby trapped. There was a jeep in the ditch with a poncho es gone.
They say we brought out our dead. I have often wondered about the ones in Hell Fire Valley. I never knew what happened there until I read the book "Chosin." No one ever talked about this. We reached Koto-ri at dusk. We went into a secure area and set up camp. We found some parachutes from air dropsand made tents out of them. I believe that Watts, Watson and I were in a tent. We crawled into our sleeping bags with all the clothes we had on, and shivered until we fell asleep.
We were awakened at daybreak. It had snowed during the night, and there were a couple of inches of the snow on the tents, which were also full of bullet holes. I don't know if they were from the air drop or during the bnight, but we slept too soundly to know the difference. Fires were built and we tried to heat some V-Rations. Fires were also built under the crank cases of the jeeps and 6x6 trucks to get them started. (They were filled with our dead). This had to be one of the coldest nights so far.
Once again the column of men and equipment started out toward Hungnam. When we reached the spot where the bridge had been blown  and they had installed a tread bridge that had been air dropped, we were in a ditch by the road and were receiving incoming fire on the road. Off to our right about a thousand yards, a tank was firing into the hills at the Chinese. We had to climb up to the road and hi-tail it to the bridge. Small arms fire was kicking into our feet on the road. When we reached the bridge, there was a Col Tapplet waving us on. What an uplift that was.
Now it was walk, walk, walk with the straps from the ammo cans cutting into our necks. I think it was 55 miles from Koto-ri to Hungnam. We did this in a day wearing shoe packs. Our feet turned into a solid mass of blisters. As we got closer to Hungnam you could smell the salt air. It felt so much warmer. A flare came sailing out of the hills, and we had a two minute fire fight with the US Army that was guarding the road. It was in the middle of the night.
When we reached Hungnamand the division headquarters had tents set up for us. e slept till dawn, and someone came in with a razor and a helmet full of water. We all had to shave because we were joined by the British Royal Marines, who were always clean shaven and sharp looking. We loaded up into a landing carft and went out to the harbour to the Navy ships waiting for us. We crawled up the rope ladders with the assistance of the sailors, as we were totallyexhausted. We were each assigned a place to bunk, however most stayed on deck.
When we reached Pusan, we disembarked to the 'Bean Patch' where they had tents for us. We got hot food for the first time in weeks, and everyone got sick. You would take a few bites and run to the head. We kept the Corpsmen busy handing out anti-diarrhea medicine. we set up a makeshift  Christmas tree and decorated it with cans and whatever we could find.
I went to different areas to try and  find out about friends in other units. We were saddened to learn of those that did not make it out. As I recall there were about 35 Marines from How Co that walked out of the Chosin Resevoir. In the book "Chosin" they say we rode trucks back from the rail head. I know I walked every inch of th way. After seeing what was left of hell Fire Valley, I didn't wish to ride in a truck again.
At the 'Bean Patch' we got replacements, and some of the ones who had been wounded came back to the Company. We received gear to replace what had been destroyed at the Resevoir.
H-3-5 News (1/99)
Editor: Jim "RATs" Ratliff
The Han River To Hill 296
By Rod McDonald
February 2, 1999
Editor's Note:
This is the last of three stories contributed by Rod McDonald.
The first two were "Wolmi-Do To Kimpo" (Apr'98 News)
and "Kimpo To The Han River" (Sept '98 News)
Our journey from the Han until we were to assault 296 is once again, a major blank in my memory. What we did, how we got there or what happened enroute between these battles is, to me, totally lost and forgotten.
I recall the morning of the assault. We were not dug in on high ground, we were located on flat, low lying ground which faced the southerly end of 296. I recall it was very early and I felt very tired and had some problems bringing myself to some degree of mental alertness. My dungarees were so caked with dirt, sweat and dried mud they felt like they were made of  aluminium foil as I moved within them. I ate a can of c-rations, chicken and vegetables as I recall--my most least favorite c-ration. I finished it enroute.
We walked through a tiny Korean settlement with several houses and across the rice paddy dikes to the base of hill 296 and began our ascent. The slope of the hill was quite steep and my backpack SCR-610 artillery radio with its wet-cell battery pack began to slow my progress up the slope. Most of How Company and the rest of the FO team were soon well out in front of Roderick. As we got higher in-coming small arms fire picked up at an alrming degree. It seemed to be the Naktong re-visited.
A hundred or so yards from what appeared to be the top of the hill, the slope changed from dirt and grass to crumbled slate or shale. In the midst sat another radio operator with an infantry SCR-300 strapped to his back. He, like myself, was totally out of gas. I dropped down beside him to catch my wind and we chatted briefly about the lousy footing and the gosh awfuk amount of small arms fire going just over our heads  due to the lay of the land between us and the Seoul-side of the hill. Shortly he announced he thought he could now make it to the top, and left heading for the high ground.
I rested for another 1-2 minutes then followed suit. The higher I got the closer the overhead small arms fire became. Stay low and move fast was definitely the order of the day. I crested the hill, moved aboyt 15 yards inland, and there was my SCR-300-carrying friend leaning against a rock, obviously resting once again. I sat beside him, rested my radio on the rock to take the weight off me, and offered him a cigarette. Getting no response, I lighted one, rested and looked around for anyone from my FO team--A corpsman, running low came up, pulled my SCR-300 acquaintance by the feet laying him straight and covered him with a poncho. That rather rattled me. I left.
Within minutes our FO team was together and Lt. Jerry Fly moved to the Seoul-view slope and we began calling in fire missions. In minutes he was hit. Thankfully he'd just put the glasses up to his eyes to site the strike of a round. The bullet pierced his left hand, went through the glasses, and clipped off parts of two fingers on the other hand. Had his glasses been down it'd have gone throughhis head. Jerry was evacuated from 296 that evening, stayed in the Corps, made the Viet Nam war, retired a Major and now lives in Carlsbad, California.
With Jerry Fly gone and S/Sgt Conley having been transferred to another FO, this left H-3-5 with two 1948 Corporals, Brosnan and myself, as its senior members. We wern't much, but we were all you had. Since Brosnan was a wireman and unfamiliar with the radio, he took over the spotting duties and I continued to call in our missions. We fired missions and laid in defense fires and dug in together that night. I don't recall if we both stayed alert, or took turns in out two man foxhole. However, come dawn we were both awake and all was quiet. Since the NK mode of operation was night attacks the men, including Brosnan, lay back and dozed off. Being a mite hungry I elected to open a can of c-rations, eat and then catch some sleep.
I was cutting open the can with my trusty P-38, just glancing around, when 6-7 mencrested the draw from 80-90 yards to our left. I ignored them and returned to my can-cutting duties when it suddenly impacted on me--they were wearing the wrong uniforms! Not wanting to start a fire fight with no more than my carbine I attempted to arouse a BAE man just to my left front--No response. Same-o, same-o with other men in the area.
Meanwhile the NK patrol had moved to within about our 60 yard lineand were signaled by their leader to hit the dirt. At that point in time I'd lost my appetite, put my partially opened can on the dge of our foxhole , shouldered my carbine, and took the patrol leader out of the picture. My very first shot was all the reveille the H-3-5 troops needed, and for that matter ended the stealth of the patrol. It was a brief battle. One round passes between Brosnan and me during the exchange blowing my can of c-rations to smithereens. There were more of us than them and we had a whole bunch more firepower, so H-3-5 prevailed. The bodies of their ill-fated patrol were still there when I left 296 a few days later.
At one point in time that day I crossed over to the Seoul-side of the hill to converse with Capt Wildman about bringing in an air strike to take out some Maxim emplacements which the NK's were setting upon the hog-back hill to our rear. As I first entered the draw where he had his CP, I experienced my first shelling by the high-velocity guns used by their T-34 tanks.
Very disconcerting to say the least. Where normal artillery or mortar shells go "wheeee-bang," this high-velocity stuff went "bang-wheeee." The darn things hit and exploded before you heard them coming in. We suffered about three rapid rounds and then hauled butt and moved our discussion into the protection of the little cave at the head of the draw. While this offered som psychological comfort, I entertained some serious doubts about its actual protection since the mouth of the cave faced the direction which they were shooting from. Oh well, any port in a storm.
I no longer recall when my radio got hit. It was just sometime during that checkerboard of days and nights on 296. But I guess it was the night before H-3-5 jumped off to our left to secure the remainder of 296 leaving Gunny McHugh, one squad, an interpreter and myself behind to hold the ground we'd gained.
No sooner had the rest of the Company gotten about a mile away and engaged in a fire fight than the NK's launched what seemed to me to be a company-strength attack against our rather undermanned position. Talk about small arms fire. Every NK must have been carrying a couple of thousand rounds with him and under strict orders to shoot all of it at us. I was busily thanking God for our BAR men and pleading for their safe keeping.
Our tiny perimeter hung-tough. They were gaining ground, but not fast enough to prevent the company from dis-engaging from its fire fight and returning to pull our well toasted fannies out of the fire. I loved everyone of you men when your weapons suddenly joined into the fracus and turned the tide. The NK's left the scene.
Late that afternoon I loaded up my WIA radio and prepared to help carry some of our casualties down from 296 to the aid station located in the area from which we'd launched our attack. Carrying an SCR-610 down a hill is not nearly as getting that bastard up a hill, so I was able to act as an armed guard and as a stretcher bearer.
These brief remembrances of 296 only touch a few small areas of our days in that hell hole. Like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, or Tinian the constant shooting, shelling and cries for "Corpsma" can can not be passed along by the written word. For full impact 296 had to be lived through, not read about.
I did not know when I left Hill 296 to help with our wounded, to get a new radio and a band-aid for a blister on y heel that I would never again rejoin Charlie FO#1 and H-3-5.
But that's another story!
Semper FI
H-3-5 News (1/99)
Editor: Jim "RATs" Ratliff

Story From H-3-5 Ed Murray
February 3, 1999
July 1953 Korea
Somewhere by Panmunjon by outpost Ester. That afternoon I was advised I had volunteered for an ambush at the base of the Chinese lines. I spent all afternoon trying to get rid of the butterflies in my stomach, test fired my BAR in the pit and got ready.
Just as evening started to fall the twelve of us left the main line and, trying to be quiet, started for the enemy lines. Even after taping down our dogtags and any loose equipment on our bodies, it was my contention that we sounded like a garbage truck coming down the street.
There were twelve of us from H-3-5 and all had automatic weapons. After a long time in the night heat and humidity we arrived at the base of the Chinese lines and were to wait for the enemy to leave on patrol.
After laying in the rice paddy with our heads and weapons on the dike to keep them dry, we attempted to get comfortable for what could be a long wait. I recall that fog had set in, making visibility poor. The sweat just poured off us as it was so hot and humid. After a long long time waiting and trying to fight off going to sleep, I must have finally succumbed.
Suddenly I was awakened by the most God awful sound that could have been similar to the zoo at feeding time. I realized that all twelve of us were sleeping and each of us snoring to a different tune. I immediately hit the guy next to me and said "wake up, pass it on." One by one the snarls, wheezes, groans and other gutteral sounds subsided and it got quieter.
I guess we were lucky but then too, we did have company and they heard the sounds of the twelve tired Marines snoring like elephants with sore throats and decided that something evil and nasty lay ahead of them and went back. We will never know. In relating this story to H-3-5 Jim Dixon lately, he says he remembers that patrol as he was on it.
H-3-5 Editor's Comment:
"Been there, done that, 'ain't no fun." However it's nice to be
able to laugh at it now. 
H-3-5 News (1/99)
Editor: Jim "RATs" Ratliff

"Brothers In Arms"
By Robert J. Shockley
February 3, 1999
I enlisted in the United States Army in 1983 as a Military Police Officer, going through Boot Camp at Ft. McClellan, Alabama. Initially, I was going to go into the USMC with some high school buddies, but I quickly changed my mind when I learned they they were getting guaranteed assignments there in our home state as part of an enlistment incentive, (they were of Hawaiian descent, I was a "Haole," a white guy) and that I would go "where the Corps deemed best," which at that time was Beirut, Lebanon. So off I went to the United States Army for the next 9 years, but I didn't know then that my paths would would cross several more times with these Brothers In Arms of mine, even to the point that on one occasion I can say that a Marine once saved me from serious bodily harm or worse.
My first encounter with the United States Marine Corps officially came in 1988 at Lackland AFB, Texas, where I was going thru the Traffic Accident Investigators school taught there. Of my three primary instructors, one was a USMC E-6. I'll never forget the first day of class when we were formed-up outside to be marched to the skid-pad, and our instructor began cadence with that familiar "Marine-esque" sound we'd all heard in the movies. At first, I got this big stupid "Gomer Pyle"-looking grin because he sounded so, well , Marine-like. For a joint-service formation, we looked pretty good, and there's no doubt in my mind it was because we had him leading us there. Just about anyone else and we probably would've looked like the proverbial Chinese fire-drill team. He was a great instructor, totally proficient at what he did, yet human and approachable at the same time.
My next encounter w/the Marines was at Ft Lewis, Washingtonin 1989. A battalion of Marines had come up from Southern California to train with some of our combat units (2/75th Ranger Bn and elements of the 9th Inf Div). There was a policy in effect that said that Battalion or larger sized units that came there had to bring their own MP support, so they brought a platoon of MP's with them. These MP's were then partnered-up with us, to do ride-alongs and to handle any Marines that were picked up, either by the US Army or local law enforcement officials. I was the duty Traffic Accident Investigator one evening and stopped by the PMO to see if anyone wanted to go for a patrol. A young Lance Corporal jumped up and said "Let's go get 'em, Sarge!", so off we went. This kid was a real tiger. MP duty for him back at Pendleton wasn't what he expected it to be (gate duty, gate duty, and more gate duty), so he really amped while he helped me cite some speeders and process a drunk driver. Once that was done, I took him back out and and decided to do a "walk thru" of the NCO club, which was Friday-nite packed. Once inside, we made our way to the bar, where I told him we would back up the wall and just watch people for a little bit. We hadn't been standing there for more than 5 minutes when this couple began arguing at the bar. He says something to her that she doesn't like, so she tosses her drink in his face. He was half way to smacking her when I came up from behind him and put a Full Nelson on him, pulling him off his stool. We drug him backwards all the way out of the club and got outside on the front lawn, where I let go of the guy and asked for his ID. At about this time I notice that my Marine partner and I are now surrounded by about 12 of this guy's buddies, and they're not too happy about him going off to jail. Again I asked for the ID, and this time the guy pushes my hand away, so I jumped him and got him to the ground. This totally incensed his buddies to the point that they began yelling racial slurs at us (they were black, the two of us were white). I only had one hand cuffed, and was beginning to get worried, when out of nowhere, my partner jumps over beside me w/his PR-24 (their policy was "clubs only" on these deployments) club out in front of him, and he's screaming "Come on you (expletive,,not a racial one)'s,,,I'll kick everyone of your asses!!!!!" These soldiers either decided discretion was the better part of valor, or they thought my partner was gonna do an "Iwo Jima" on them with that nasty club of his, so they backed off and let us be on our way w/ our prisoner.
I got in the car and thanked him for jumping in  like he did. I've seen others choke-up in such situations, but this Marine was ready for anything. It must be the Pugil Stick training Marines go through in boot camp!
Finally, I can say I served with pride alongside the USMC during Desert Storm, where our unit (7th Corps, 3rd Ar Div SPEARHEAD) was to the west of the Marines' drive up-thru the middle of Kuwait.
Inter-service rivalries have always existed and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but at least I can say from my own experiences that when it gets right down to it, we all pull together, like the Brothers In Arms that we are.
Robert J. Shockley
Sgt, USA (1983-1992)
Military Police Corps

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