Letter To Sam Lamb
Edward Buford Clark
Marine Vignettes #69-72
China Marine-Boxer Rebellion!
By Susan Clark
May 20, 1999
Forward By Dick Gaines
I often receive e-mail saying something like, "I know my father (brother, husband, son, friend...) served in the Marines prior to, or during World War Two, or the Korean War, but that's all I know, how do I find specific information regarding his service?"
Well, there are ways of obtaining such information, but it does involve some time and effort on the part of the individual involved. Some never get started due to a lack of enthusiasm, and/or they excpect others to do it for them. Nobody will do it for you, and nobody is more capable of doing it than yourself! (Unless, of course, you want to hire an investigator.)
One reason why I began soliciting stories from old time Marines and Navy Corpsmen, was because I felt that they should be encouraged to record and preserve their stories for both friends and families, and for others who read their stories here here as well. Many have recorded their stories, here and elsewhere, but many more have not done so prior to departing this world.
Tom Brokaw, in his book, The Greatest Generation, speaking of WW II veterans in particular, states that, "...The sad reality is that they are dying at an even faster rate. They are in their mortality years now, in their seventies and eighties, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs estimates that about thirty-two hundred World War II vets die every month..." And if that's true of them, it's also true of many of us. We Korean War-era vets are not that far behind.
Susan Clark, of Bellingham, Wahington recently wrote to me telling of her success in discovering information regarding her grandfather, Edward B. Clark, who served in the Marine Corps during the time of both the Spanish American War and the Boxer Rebellion. I appreciate her having advised me regarding this, as those whom I hear back from, after an initial inquiry, are sometimes few and far between. I know that she is a diligent searcher, and I congratulate her on her success. This is her story.
I am delighted to share with you new information I just received. I thought all of my father's information on family, especially his father, had been lost. After a move, my mother found it! Here are the transcribed notes from a conversation my father, Edward C. Clark had with his father, Edward B. Clark, probably during the early 1950s. I have starred (*) the items about his time with the Marines in the Spanish American War and the Boxer Rebellion. I also have several photos of E.B. Clark, one is of him in uniform in New York after discharge, and the other is date unknown sitting in front of a machine gun. I'll see if they will scan well and pass those on, too.
I am very open to hearing from anyone who has insights into what is written. I am happy to answer questions.
(The following is a chronological listing of the notes).
1. Edward Buford Clark, born Carrolton, Mo., May 17, 1876
2. Memphis, Mo., at 6 years
3. Downing, Mo., at 8 years
4. Meyer, Ill., at 12 years
5. Left Meyer in 1896 after argument with father, when father beat him
6. Rode the rods to Tulare, Californiia
7. Lived with Uncle Mac Sipple and Uncle Eli Clark
8. (sho?) to Delando
9. To Eureka, California-worked in wood lumber mills
10. * To Ellis St. San Francisco-tried to enlist in Army Cavalry, turned down due to underage, went down the street and was accepted by Marines February 21, 1899-1st Regiment of Marines, D Co.
11. * Capt Davis, to Phillipines in Army Transport "Newport." Stopped Hawaii, passed Midway Island May 17, 1899. Was on boat at time stopped in Japan for coal 12. * Landed Cairte, PI. Some fighting in area.
13. * Lt Leonard and volunteers went to China ( Dad included). Gunboat "Nashville." May 2-5, 1900 Taku forts, landed from gunboat Monos
14. * Then went to relieve Tiensen. Chinese chased them back almost to forts.
15. * Was riding RR train. Lost train and 3" gun
16. * Then returned and reached Europeopn Settlement and captured the Tiensen (mint?)
17. * Attached right flank of Chines so Russians could come in, May 1900
18. * July 4, 1900 took mud wall of Tiensen held it until 17th took the walled city (brass shell casing from that date still in the family).
19. *Then battle of Yangsun Bridge across the Pi ho river
20. * Reached Peking in August, no fight-Took city with no trouble
21. * General Chaffee was in charge of Americans
22. * Stayed in Peking for 5 1/2 months
23. * Ran a boat with provisions up & down the Pi Ho River from Tiensen to Chunghow. (The family has a silver "scholar's good luck" bracelet. Chinese coins-the ornate, square, carved wooden case was stolen during break-in some years ago.)
24. * To Nagasaki, Japan
25. * Ceivite 9th Infantry (which had also been in China) was massacred island of Samoa
26. * Major Waller, Marine Corps, got permission from governor Taft to go down and punish area
27. * General Smith was court martialed because of the expedition due to the massacre of the people
28. * This was reported to the Pope who complained to the U.S.A. about treatment of people by the Marines
29. * At (B?) Samar Island there was a trail over the mountains, across island
30. * Left from Lanang River. Rainy season began.
31. * Lost 37 men
32. * Ran out of food
33. * Reached summit, came out of Bassai river
34. * dad believes he came through alive because he had a new pair of shoes
35. * Dad almost starved to death.
36. * Porta Bella of Basalan Island in (fulu?) group. No trouble.
37. * Back to Cavite and home by way of Yokohama, Japan 1902 or 1903.
38. * New York, discharged in Brooklyn
39. Went to work at Brooklyn Navy Yard
40. Worked on Battleship Connecticut for 18 months
41. Went to Panama in 1904
42. Ancon (Balboa) was used as a health resort
43. Remodeled the labor barracks and helped build governor's palace.
44. (There?) was general foreman.
45. Torta Bella built buildings for rock quarry.
46. Gatum dam and locks--built most of house--built forms for concrete locks--was Ass't Sup of Construction
47. About 1906 supervised PamAmerican elections in Macaracas near Columbia. 48. Army took over, was then foreman
49. Was with Col. Gorgas in sanitary work
50. Left Panama in 1911 due to health--chronic malaria
51. Was sick for a year after coming home
52. Had purchased ranch near Selma, California. Father and mother lived on place
53. Then sold ranch and moved to Caruthers, California
Your attention to idealism, respect for the lives of prisoners, the
regard for the values of the American Way, etc. is a value lacking
in most Korean War stories...or other war stories in general. But,
it is the fundamental, often unspoken, reason men are willing to go
through the hell of war and the risk of life and limb. You said it
for me, Sam Lamb. I regret that you were not present [apparently]
when I confronted Causey when he said he was going over and
"kick the shit out of Goggins." It would have strengthened your
case for our values as Humans, Christians, Americans, Marines,
etc. if it were a part of your experiences in the book. I told Big
Jim, " If you're going to try that, you'll have to go through me to get
to him. I may lose, but I guarantee you, I will make it very expensive
for you to get to him. I'm willing to give my life for a Country that
values each individual - if that isn't true, I don't want to fight for that
Country - but, it is true, so I am willing to risk it all. I'm not going to
let you rob me of the very good reason I may die next week. You
become my enemy. Let me know what you decide." He got up from
our card game and said, "I'll have to think about it." I said, "Let me
know. I'll be here." He came back a little later and said, "You're right.
I was wrong." I thanked him for his manliness. [He had previously
talked about driving through New Orleans as a police officer and
leaning out to hit a black man in the head and laughing as he spun into
the street.] Later, he told me I had changed his life. And, later, Joe
came to me privately and thanked me. I said, " Joe, it's the reason
we are all out here doing this dirty work. We can't allow anyone to
make Our Side like the enemy and his ways. And, you are worthy."
He shook my hand with wet eyes. It would have been a good support
in the book for your stated and repeated position on prisoners, etc.
Idealism is very very practical in the very real world. I recall that the
Company that killed all those prisoners in the swimming pool in the
hotel in downtown Seoul had more casualties than any other Company
in our Battalion...or the Regiment[?]
I vaguely recall your reference to being on liberty in Masan and my
correcting Villa regarding his mistreatment of the local natives. The
one incident I remember even more was the time Causey and I
went into town to drink beer and eat peanuts - we were walking
down the street when out in front of us we saw a Marine go up
behind a native gook who was carrying a flat basket of several
large fish on his head. The Marine grabbed one and started beating
the gook with the fish. I grabbed the Marine and threw him to
the ground. He jumped up and he and I went at it for a couple
of minutes. He yelled at me that he was angry because he lost a
lot of buddies over here. Where was I when they were fighting
alone at the Perimeter. I said, "Where were you during WW II?"
"It's idiots like you that will cause my [future] sons to have to
come back here again in 20 years and do it all over again." He
was drunk and crying. I tossed him into a curb and beckoned a
passing weapons carrier to take him back to camp. They did.
Causey said, "Why didn't you flatten him?" I said, he's not my
enemy - He just needs correction. [More idealism that would
have fit well in your book Wish you had been present and had
that experience for your book.]
In the book, you had me leaving for home before Villa was killed:
Sorry, I was still there. He stacked 'em up with his BAR that
night on the nose of that hill. Those Chinese troops were all
wearing skirts of grenades...remember?I know he was
recommended for the Silver Star...did his family ever get it? He
was from New Mexico is all I knew.
When we were on our way from Kobe to Inchon, Maiden came
to me and said he had put me in for Sgt. stripes, but, they wouldn't
allow it because I had a different spec. number. He said, "What
was that?" I told him my last assignment in the Corps in '45 was
Intelligence. He asked who I would recommend. I said, "Give it
to John Carpenter. He's a good man, a career Marine." He was
my buddy; the best friend that I had made when we reported to
F-2-1 at Pendleton. [Do you remember the speech Chesty made
to us - standing on a jeep?]
Sam, I do remember several shots I made from a kneeling
position - perhaps, up to 500 yards. But, the one I really remember
was the second or third day: We had raced over three hills in a row.
The whole second battalion was strung out in a skirmish line from
the Inchon-Seoul Highway on the left to the top of high ground
on the right. Our platoon was on the extreme right with only
machine gunners on our right We reached the crest of the fourth
hill and everyone flopped on their faces, worn out! I knew someone
had to sit up and watch. A valley extended out in front of us with
a flat-topped hill in the distance. I noticed what appeared to be
a stick - no other shape - on top of the hill. It did not move. I asked
the machine gunners to put their glasses on it. They looked and
started yelling, "It's a gook! It's a gook! Get 'em! Get 'em!" I
swung my rifle [M-1] up and put the front blade on the stick, raised
it slowly until I couldn't see the "stick" and squeezed it off. I dropped
my piece and looked. Wham! It was a man, hit in the stomach, - he
came tumbling down the hill! The whole battalion let out a roar like
I had kicked a field goal against Notre Dame! All that, after they
had spent the morning killing many North Koreans! The machine
gunners said their range-finder glasses put that target at OVER a
thousand yards! Yikes! I never made such a shot in my whole life.
They thought he may have been a Russian advisor...Who knows?
The night we finished the fight in Yong Dong Po, there was 'a word'
out that Groff had killed a prisoner that evening. I don't know. It may
have been true. The thing I didn't like about the Captain was his
little card-board shack with the young Korean girl - all in a combat
area. I thought he was a pretty fair field officer in combat, but his
morals/ethics and example left much to be desired. I never heard
him rant and rave. He was usually pretty quiet when I was around
him. But, I tended to avoid officers. Most were a pain in the rear
and not very knowledgeable - and often tended to put men at risk
I was surprised you did not mention the field kitchen that was
brought to us by General Lowe [Truman's Military aide] over-
looking Hoengsong while we waited for the ROKs to clear on
our left flank. Stepped into the galley-tent, turkey, mashed-potatoes,
gravy, peas, corn, pie, etc. Stepped out of the tent: Frozen.
Sam, I think you were the only one I said good-bye to. And, I was
happy to leave the .45 with you, but, you gave me $25 bucks for it!
Sam, four books that I have about the Korean War are excellent.
Perhaps you can locate them through a local library. I highly
recommend them. They are as follows:
1.] U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950-1953
Volume II The Inchon-Seoul Operation
by Lynn Montross & Captain Nicholas A. Canzona, USMC
2.] U.S. Marine Operations in Korea 1950-1953
Volume IV The East-Central Front
by Lynn Montross, Major Hubard D. Kuokka, USMC,
and Major Norman W. Hicks, USMC
[Also, there is a Volume 1 regarding The Pusan Perimeter,
Vol. 3 regarding the Chosin Reservoir Campaign
and a Volume 5 regarding the Operations in Western Korea]
3.] Victory at High Tide; The Inchon-Seoul Campaign
by Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., Colonel, USMC
4.] The New Breed
The Story of the U.S. Marines in Korea
by Andrew Geer
These are excellent resources and wonder texts to leave with
After your book, The Last Parade, comes out, I'm sure I'll
have more to say. More in the way of reminders - not criticism.
You have done very well without any additional input. As usual,
my friend, I'm very proud of you.
WW II and Korea
I don't know if this story
is worthy of being posted anywhere,
but, it's true and I've told it through the years......
With my 18th birthday just past and fresh out of the Navy's San
Diego boot camp, I took a bus to the Mexican border, crossed and started
wandering around Tiajuana alone. Many hours later daylight was fading and
I was lost. Keeping the setting sun to my left I strode north, hoping to find my
way home. Suddenly, a Mexican national 'bumped' into me. Saying "excuse me,
" I kept going; for a few more feet anyway. Two Mexicans stood in front of me,
blocking my path. The voice behind me told me how much trouble I was in.
Turning, there was the fellow who 'bumped' me. The scent of
the air. Animal instinct told me this situation was not good. Reacting
immediately, I raised my fists and told the three thugs I would take as many
of them with me as I could. When they advanced, I took several steps
backwards into a store doorway, went up the 3 steps, then yelled as LOUD as
I could for "you sons of bitches just try to hurt me !!!!"
The thugs paused then advanced like a pack of wolves around their prey.
that moment, a deep booming voice filled the air, followed by a bellow
reminiscent of an enraged animal. I heard it but did not take my eyes off my
three adversaries. I saw the three punks look up and then, with a shocked,
startled looked on their faces, they left; running like the devil was after them.
Looking towards the source of the bellowing noise, I saw two huge,black,
burly fellows running rapidly towards me, the crowds parting before
them. When they reached me they stopped, saying they had heard a
yell, turned around, and saw a fellow American 1/2 block away with his
fists up. They added that if I had not taken those three steps upwards,
they would not have been able to see me through the crowds.
Those two guys did not see a White boy, they saw a fellow American.
Those two Heaven-sent guys were recent Marine boot camp graduates
who themselves decided to look around Tiajuana, got lost, and were also
looking for the gate back to America. With wondrous relief, I joined up with
those Black Angels and we made our way safely back to the good ol' USA.
Those two Marines may have saved my life. I know that at the very least
they saved me from physical harm and a possible unwelcome experience
with the Mexican "legal" system.
Every once in awhile, not often, I'll hear somebody bad mouth ALL Black
I don't care who says it or where we're at, I take the opportunity to share this
true story about two wonderful Black Marines who helped out this White boy,
and one who was a Squid, too!!!!!
God Bless the MARINES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The above IS a true story..... it occurred around Nov. 1974
Heard you were on the lookout for members of
the *Old Breed" and their vignettes before we
all poop out!! (have no web page):
Was doing duty at the Naval Hospital,(Brooklyn,
N.Y.) when the sneeky Japs bombed Pearl
Harbor. Weeks later was on my way to New
River,N.C. for extensive field training preparing
for combat alongside the Marines.
Wasn't long before I was htting the beach on
Guadalcanal(7Aug'42), as a member of the
Was the assigned Corpsman for a 75mm Gun
Halftrack with a crew of five rugged gyrenes!!
(They would become my "adopted family" for
the rest of our four month cruise on the island!)
One day, surrounded by Japs on land, sea and
air, I found myself cramped sardine-like in our
makeshift dugout with a growingly edgy crew.
We were under a neverending shelling by Jap
warships cruising off the coast.
As the tension increased, I decided it time to
put into play my self-appointed role of "Morale
Officer" In a faked, stern voice I bellowed out
loud-and-clear: "Listen up people"!! "Regardless
of what these Japs have in mind, this chunk of
real estate referred to as the "Canal" is going
to remain strictly under U.S. Marine Corps
(Well at least I got a chuckle out of them, helping to ease the
my prediction of sustained U.S.Marine control
over the island proved accurate!!!)
Further down the road: -------
During an enemy air raid, our newly formed
coastal defense position was completely leveled wounding
truly" out of my shallow foxhole. "Smitty", a
no-nonsense type of Marine whispered in my
ear as I treated his extensive wounds: "Doc"!
"I think I 'DID IT' in my pants"!!
Knowing of his macho image, I reassured him
that under similar circumstances "doing it" in
one's pants is par for the course, and besides,
none of the crew now knew nor need ever know
it happened to him!
With this assurance, the apprehensive tension
on his face suddenly disappeared as he was
then transported to a medical facility in the rear.
(As if there ever was a "REAR' on Guadalcanal)
John Francis Richter
HM1 USN (Ret.)