As we, my wife
Ann and I, drove East along the Gateway Blvd in Naples, Florida last week,
we spotted 68th street and turned right. I started looking for number 3150
but didn't have to look long 'cause flying loosely in the breeze, tied
to the mail box, was a big green balloon. We knew then that we had finally
reached our destination. Upon turning into the driveway, I spotted a wooden
sign, perched high in a tree, stating simply, "S/Sgt Longo's Bunker."
We drove up the
driveway and plastered over the left side of the house was a banner, "GREETINGS
MICK & ANN." Mick was my alias, attached to me by my Paison friends
partly because I'm half Irish and half English and could sing and play
most of the Irish Ditties; "ME FATHER HE WAS ORANGE AND ME MOTHER SHE WAS
a moment; about nine months ago, I told 'RATs' that I was searching for
a couple of my H-3-5 buddies from Korea. I had written MAIL CALL in the
Leatherneck several times to no avail. Longo was from Patterson, N.J. back
in '50 so we concentrated in that area. 'RATs' provided me with about fifty
names ending in Longo and I called them all; no luck. In November, 'RATs'
provided me with another Longo list from Florida. The first call I made
to a gentleman from Naples said, "that's my Uncle" and that brings us back
to our reunion.
The last time
I saw Augie Longo was in December '52, aboard the hospital ship "JUTLANDIA"
(Denmark's contribution to the Korean "Conflict").
Our platoon conducted
a raid to get prisoners in the area of Outpost Ester. Augie's squad led
the assault while my squad laid down a base of fire. Augie got hit severly,
received the Silver Star for his actions, and was evacuated.
About three weeks
later, I was wounded and ended up on the same ship. I found Augie was there
and down to his semi-private room I went. There he was, stretched out in
the supine position with silver plates over both eyes and he was in a neck-type
brace and he was told not to move his head.
His roommate was
an opera fanatic and also psycho I think, so we broke out into an Italian
Aria (song) and I was immediately evicted from the ward and told never
Augie did ask
what happened to me, and I told him I got a little scratch on the shoulder.
As things turned out, Augie recuperated and was returned to the Company
on line and I went on to the hospital in Yokosuka and eventually back to
the States. Augie told all the guys that, "I got the hell shot out of me"
and that MICK#+**#, got to go to Japan with just a little scratch.
Prior to our visit,
Augie asked if there were any foods that I couldn't eat so I responded
thusly, knowing of his Italian persuasion, "No pasta, pizza, pepperoni,
in other words, nothing Italian. I continued with, "I can eat corned beef
and cabbage, ploughman's lunch and chase it all down with John Jameson's
Whisky, Guiness Stout and a bit of the ole Tullamore Dew.
Ann and I entered
the Longo mansion and met his lovely wife Rina, who had gone out of her
way to comply with my dining requests and before we could sit down, she
showered us with gifts of Champagne, John Jameson Whisky, stone-crab claws,
pizza and last, but not least, a huge can of corned beef. Out came the
scrap books, pictures, memories of 'young faces.' Time took its toll on
my old brain. The guys I couldn't remember, Augie could, and vice-versa.
The next day Rina
and Augie showed us the sights of this "poverty-stricken" city, mansions
upon mansions, estates either abuting the Gulf of Mexico or the hundreds
of manicured golfclubs in the area. We dined at a little oy of the way
out exotic seafood restaurant for lunch and capped off the evening at the
Villa Ristorante which was exquisite.
We are only a
two hour drive from each other. Neither of us has changed over the past
forty-seven years, or so we agreed, and are looking forward to many more
My only wish is
that more of "old buddies" from H-3-5 or any other outfit throughout the
Corps could have as fine a reunion as we did.
memory trip takes me back to somewhere in South Central Korea around possible
mid-March of 1951. Actual dates and places were and are fuzzy. At the time,
most of us didn't know exactly where we were anyway. One hill or valley
like another--the ground always seemed to be either uphill or downhill--hardly
We (How Company)
were assigned to attack a Chinese held hill position the next morning at
dawn. We had spread out the night before in a small valley, dug shallow
fox holes as I recall, were not exoected to attack by ourselves.
We had a 50% watch during the night--all quiet.
Next morning before
light we were all up--ate our C-rations, cold as usual--double checked
our weapons--had received an extra bandoleer of ammunition each plus two
hand grenades each the day before. We formed up and moved out on foot toward
our hill target. I can never remember hill numbers. We used to identify
everything by Hill 907 or Hill 778, etc. usually known as either feet or
meters on the maps the officers used. In the light of dawn we (our platoon
of 3 squads of men) were moving slowly along a dirt road at the base of
the hill we were to assault when a explosion up ahead approximately 300
yards brought us all to a stop.
It turns out a
jeep with three officers of our battalion were on recon to check out the
correct terrain for us to position ourselves in when the jeep hit
a land mine set by the Chinese. The land mine killed all that were in the
jeep and put a deep cloud of concern on all of us! We finally got by the
gory scene--had the benefit of a mine sweeping detail to check out the
trail ahead of us , and proceeded to get into position for our frontal
assault of the hill.
Now it's light
and time to coordinate our frontal move up the face of the hill while other
Marines from How Company, or possibly George and Item Companies, were to
advance up two ridges on either side of the hill.
We started up
the hill side. We had all been instructed to drop off our misc. gear (782
gear), sleeping bags, packs, rations, etc. back at the valley except our
entrenching tool, poncho, canteens, weapons, etc. It was so steep where
our squad had to begin to climb up that I wondered what or how I would
use my M-1 rifle or toss a grenade if and when necessary! We had to crawl
up--pulling ourselves up by grabbing whatever small bushes or small trees
we found along the way to advance. Any mon\ment I expected Chines hand
grenades and rifle fire to chop us up. We were all cursing the steep terrain--working
up a hot sweat--trying to take turns covering one another while the other
NO shots were exchanged. I could see the fresh dug trenches as we approached
the top position of the hill, expecting any moment to come under
fire. We were now right on top of the trenches. We got into the trenches
but no Chinese!! All the signs were that they had just been there--fresh
S---lestover food tins, etc.--but lo and behold --the Chinese had pulled
out in the pre-dawn to another hill. We were exhausted coming up over that
steep hill but couldn't believe at first that we were not being fired on.
Well, the old
story goes that we were all told not to expose yourself on the skyline!
Our whole company--guys coming up the ridges from both sides--we coming
up the frontal exposure made a bad mistake! We walked onto the top ridge,
the skyline, and took a look around to see where the Chinese were. Didn't
take more than a minute to figure where the enemy was because we could
all hear the mortar tubes going off in the distance and about eight seconds
later the Chinese 82mm mortar shells began to rain down! The first volley
of shells fell on the forward side of the ridge and did no harm. I was
with my squad leader, Bill Vaughn from Oklahoma, near the ridgeline at
the time and at the first volley of shells we both slid down on the reverse
slope to take cover. There was no real cover on that part of the ridge
so we flattened out as flat as we could lay. I had just moved about ten
feet away from him when a mortar shell landed next to him.
I had my helmet
blown off my head-my rifle blown out of my hands and my head and ears were
numb from the blast. Vaughn was badly hit. More incoming shells came in
across the ridge line and below where we were. Our Corpsman (can't remember
the name) was coming up behind me to check out Vaughn when another shell
exploded close by and hit the Corpsman in the chest. He slid down the gravel
slope to try and get below the direct fire. More shells kept coming in
on top of us--you couldn't move! You just lay flat on top of the slope
and took it. Pretty soon we had our 105's and our 81mm mortars shooting
back at the Chinese on the next hill over. It was now a duel of the Marine
artillery and and heavy mortars to silence the Chinese.
I felt myself
all over--no holes--no injuries! I crawled up the ten feet to my line hoping
no one had seen me without my trusty weapon. I continued on up the slope
to Vaughn who was moaning and not in good shape. I got next to him--oprened
his jacket and saw a number of puncture wounds from the mortar shrapnel.
Took my own first aid kit--used the compress bandage on one of the larger
wounds then opened his first aid kit and applied his compress pad to one
of the otherwounds. He was still moaning but only semi-conscious. A few
more incoming landed nearby but I was busy tending to Vaughn so I hardly
Everybody on the
ridge area had scattered--no one seemed close by, so I continued to see
if I could get Vaughn to a safe place. I sat him up--leaned over--got a
good grip and swung him up on my shoulder in a fireman's carry--picked
up my rifle in my free hand--stood up as best I could and started down
the slope to get out of the shelling area. Found I could not hold my balance
on the steep slope and had to sit down with Vaughn on my shoulder. I laid
him down and pulled out my poncho to form a cloth to pull him on.
I was concentrated
on this task when two guts from the squad arrived next to me, and together
we put Vaughn on the poncho. We three now lifted the poncho with Vaughn
in it and started sliding down the slope. I was up near Vaughn's head holding
a corner of the poncho when I lost my balance--did a complete flip--head
over heels--landed on my feet and never dropped the corner of the poncho!
My rifle was across my back. The three of us were now moving toward a flat
shelf area where a helicopter had come in and landed to pick up casualties.
A combat photographer
was shooting his camera at the three of us, struggling with our heavy load--I
was shouting for him to put that G.D. camera down and grab the 4th corner
of the poncho and help us. No luck! He poked his camera right into the
poncho to see Vaughn , I chewed his ass out real f\good--I was pumped up
and mad as hell! Anyway, we had several other Marines who came to help
us as we approached the helicopter.
They put Vaughn
on a litter and we went back up the slopeto rejoin what was left of our
squad. Turned out we had two dead and four wounded from our squad. That's
50% casualties from an action that had been quite a turnaround from an
assault on an empty Chinese position.
thing about this particular engagement I have described is we had no air
support that day. On other occasions we have had close air support with
napalm--29mm and r50 cal.machine gun fire from the Corsairs. The platoon
leader, Lt. Walden, told me the next day Vaughn had died on his way to
the field hospital.
I remember we
stayed on that hill all day. Had dug ourselves in on the slope near the
ridge. Weapons Co. brought up some water-cooled 30 cal. machine guns to
fire on the Chinese on the other hill. The io5's from our own batterieskept
everyone jumpy, but the Chinese incoming finally stopped.
We were relieved
by an Army unit as dusk settled in and those of us on the ridge could come
down through their ranks as they came huffing and puffing up the slope.
We didn't talk much--just glad to be going down. Another engagement with
the enemy had proved we had done the best we could on the mission we had
We miss those
we lost. We'd regroup--get new replacements and move out soon again on
the next assignment.
Would love to
hear from any of you How Co Vets who recall this particular event. Maybe
you were there in my squad or not far away.
I first met Rocky
when I was 15 years old in Danbury, Connecticut. He and I were in the same
Boxing Stable and we became stable buddies. He fought light weight and
I fought middle weight. He wasn'y graceful but he was tough! I don't think
he lost a fight before or after we were in the Corps.
I joined the Corps
in August of 1948 in New York City. On my way to train from New York to
Parris Island I was sitting next to a couple of new buddies when someone
tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and there was Rocky, grinning
from ear to ear.
We had both joined
the Corps and were sent to Parris Island, only he had boarded the train
in Connecticut and I in New York City. What a great coincidence!
We stayed together
through boot camp, Guam and Korea. I was there when he got hit, in the
head, a sad day for me. I was hit a little later on.
The main part
of this story occurred after we were back in the States from Korea. I was
at the War College in Providence, Rhode Island and Rocky was at the hospital
in St. Albans, New York.
One day while
I am in Providence, who shows up? Rocky, steel plate in his head, could
barely talk and dragged his foot when he walked. He had hitch hiked all
the way from St. Albans just to see me. We spent a couple days together
and he went back to St. Albans.
Later Rocky was
transferred to a Framingham, Massachusetts hospital. He got a car, it had
the necessary special equipment installed so he could drive.
One day about
a year after his visit to me, I received a phone call, Rocky had been killed
in an automobile accident and he was driving.
Rocky is the most
"Unforgettable Character" I ever met.
guard for 3 days and 3 nights at Panmunjon, during the prisoner exchange,
they learned the meaning of the word HALT while on night patrol! The guards
around the prison were Expert Marksmen (Mainly British) who shot on sight
if you did not halt and give the password immediately! On one of these
three days a truck load of Korean Prisoners were going by. On the side
of the truck they had hung a sign saying "Yankees Go Home.!" This angered
the Lieutenant in charge.
He reached ot
and pulled the sign off the side of the truck.
In turn, the British
officer driving the truck slammed on the brakes bringing the truck to a
screeching halt. The British officer came out of the truck face to face
with the Lt. saying "you can't do that!" The Lieutenant replied, " well,
I just did!" Surrounded then by American Marines, he just glared at the
British officer who then quietly picked up the sign and put it in the cab
of the truck. He never said another word and just drove off down the road.
They all thought they were going to have their own mini war right then
2; The Snake (ASP)
One day on a hill
near Libby bridge, while settling in their positions, digging trenches,
bunkers and foxholes, Resseguie, Rester, Reed, Perkins, Harina and some
other guys were digging. Resseguie turned with a shovel of dirt to find
himself face to face with the ASP snake. He turned to notify the Corpsman
of the snake (as at the time there was no antidote for this kind of snake
bite) and when he turned bac around the snake was gone.
They spent the
next thirty minutes looking for the snake, to no avail. The Corpsamn wanted
to capture the snake for experimental purposes. Upon not finding the snake
the guys were real uncomfortable for the rest of the day, hoping not to
see the creature again.
These three, Perkins,
reedand Resseguie soon forgot about the snake as they put in for a five
day pass to Japan, got it, and were in Japan for eight days.