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Sgt. Jimmie Clark
Battalion Operations Chief
937th FAB - 1953
(Click picture for a larger view)

Jimmie L. Clark

Chicago, IL-
Korean War Veteran of the United States Army

"We came from an era of, ‘It’s your privilege to disagree, but not disobey!"

- Jimmie L. Clark

 


[KWE Note: Jim Clark died November 19, 2004.  His obituary is posted at the end of his memoir.]

Tour of Duty with the 937th FAB in Korea

"Greetings from the President of the United States," was how the letter read advising me to report for military service 14 August 1952. Millions of others and I were being drafted for a period of 24 months active duty with a total of eight years obligation for military service. We came from an era of, "It’s your privilege to disagree, but not disobey!" So off we went to unknown places to serve our country as our leaders suggested.

A war had broken out in a land called Korea. It was a country that many of us had never heard of or located on a map. But it was our duty to serve our country. My assignment was to report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where I was to attend basic training of eight weeks and then be enrolled in the Field Artillery Replacement Training Center (FARTC) for another eight weeks training as Fire Direction Center personnel. FDC, as it was known, was the hub of the artillery unit. Data was formed and directions were given to send commands to the firing batteries to adjust fire as requested.

After completion of the total 16 week course and a ten-day "delay en route" furlough to observe Christmas, I found myself, along with 3200 others, reporting to embark by a military transport ship (MSTS General Brewster) at San Francisco, California, for a 21-day voyage to the Far East.

January can find rough seas in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, and this cruise was no exception. Landfall looked good after 21 days at sea on a crowded transport. After a quick stopover at Camp Drake near Yokohama, Japan, to be fitted with combat gear, the ship arrived at Inchon during a January snowstorm. A journey via rail car and truck eventually got me to my assigned unit. In the IX Corps sector, near Chorwon, defending the "Kansas Line" Main Line of Resistance (MLR), my unit--the 937th Field Artillery Battalion--was in place.

The battalion was a federalized National Guard Battalion consisting of twelve M40-155mm gun/self propelled artillery pieces mounted on tank carriages. Four guns with a range of up to 25000 yards were assigned to each of three batteries. With a Headquarters and Service Battery, along with the firing batteries, 35 officers and 400 enlisted personnel operated the battalion. Two officers were assigned as pilots for our L19 observation airplane. Two officers with four enlisted ranks occupied our two observation posts on a rotating basis with 30-day intervals. Our battalion was under the command of IX Corps Artillery, which forwarded commands for fire missions. Because of our self-propelled gun’s mobility, we took assignments from all three US Corps, and made frequent "forward shoots" (hit and run missions close to the enemy using our long range capability). When not on a "forward shoot", we fired regular missions of observed fire from our reinforced firebases.

I was a Private E-1 when I was assigned to the Fire Direction Center. In the following months, I served as a radio/telephone operator, Horizontal Control Operator, Vertical Control Operator Computer. I served a month of Observation Post duty, flew two missions as the backseat Air FO in our L19 observation plane, was chief computer, and eventually became Battalion Operation Chief.

In February 1954, it became my turn to rotate back to the US and await discharge from active duty. Due to the point system based on combat time, etc., I received an early discharge and returned to civilian life.

With military history a hobby of mine, I have researched a particular segment of the Korean War known as "The Kumsong Salient" (the last major battle of the war 13-20 July 1953), as well as the important role of artillery and the 937th contribution to that defensive. I gathered the following information on the history and background of the 937th.
 



History of the 937the Field Artillery Battalion – Arkansas National Guard

Introduction

The following information was compiled from Command Reports, the S3 Log, available Morning Reports, the 142nd FAB history, and personal recollections. It was submitted to the Korean War Educator by Jimmie L. Clark, Battalion Operations chief, 1953-54. The 937th "Arkansas Long Toms" was a field artillery battalion assigned to the Arkansas National Guard that was federalized for the Korean War. Almost all of the heavy artillery battalions assigned to Korea were National Guard units activated for duty in Korea when the war broke out. After the first year in Korea, the personnel were rotated back to the U.S. and replaced by U.S. Army conscripts and regular army. A roster of 50th anniversary living members and reunion data can be received through Clark at NewfordFDC@aol.com.


Historical Background

The 937th FAB was formed and designated as part of the 2nd Arkansas Infantry on 25 May 1898 for service in the Spanish American War. It served in New Mexico during the Mexican Border Wars. In August 1917, the unit was inducted into federal service when it became the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade and began training for World War I in Europe. The unit was disbanded in June 1919. The War Department reorganized the 142nd in 1931 and the Second Battalion formed in 1936 and became part of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, later moving to Camp Bowie in 1942.

In February 1943 the Second Battalion officially became the 937th Field Artillery Battalion, and was sent into combat in North Africa for World War II service. The 937th participated in the following World War II campaigns: Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, Southern France, North Apennines, PO Valley, Rhineland, and Central Europe. The unit returned to the U.S. in October 1945, after firing 200,000 rounds. One officer and 13 men were killed in action. Another 130 were wounded in action, and two were missing in action in World War II.

The 937th was returned to the Arkansas National Guard and reactivated at Fort Smith Arkansas in October 1946. It was refitted with the M40 155mm gun/self-propelled artillery piece. The three firing batteries, as well as headquarters and service batteries, were assigned to the cities of: Ft. Smith-Ozark-Paris. At the outbreak of the Korean War, the battalion, along with its sister battalion so designated 936th Field Artillery Battalion, was again called to federal service on 2 August 1950 and reported to Ft. Hood, Texas for training. Both the 936 and 937th arrived in Pusan, Korea, on 10 February 1951. The 937th, under the command of LTC Thomas E. Douglas, was assigned to Eighth Army and attached to I Corps.


Korean War Participation

After combat readiness training in the Pusan area, the battalion was placed on LST naval craft and sailed on 14 March 1951 to the harbor and city of Inchon. From Inchon the battalion moved to near Seoul for additional training and testing. From Seoul it went to Suwon, and on 3 April entered combat in the I Corps sector of western Korea, supporting the 3rd and 24th Infantry Divisions, as the first United Nations counteroffensive moved north. The battalion moved up the Ouijongbu/Kumhwa road (Route 3) toward the "Kansas Line," reaching a point seven miles above the 38th Parallel marker separating North and South Korea. The Chinese Communist Forces launched their spring 1951 offensive with heavy attacks on the night of 22 April. After heavy action, the battalion withdrew to successive rearward positions, and was finally in the Seoul area when the Communists were stopped.

On 11 May, Battery "A" was sent eastward and attached to X Corps in the central-east sector to a position about four miles northwest of Hongch’on. The remainder of the Battalion moved to IX Corps twenty miles east of Seoul. On 18 May the battalion, less "A" Battery, moved further east to X Corps and was attached to the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division three miles northeast of Hongch’on. Here the battalion reached its first moment of glory of the war as it helped stop the Chinese offensive 17-27 May. Its fires were important in relieving the 23rd Regimental Combat Team from a two-day encirclement. Battery C and Headquarters/Headquarters Battery received the Presidential Unit Citation for their action in this battle. After the CCF attack was driven back north, the battalion was put in position near Pup’young-ni while "B" Battery was reinforcing the fires of the 24th Division one mile south of Kup’Yong.

On 28 May the battalion, less "A" Battery, which was supporting the First Marine division (X Corps) returned to IX Corps to an area 14 miles north of Chunchon on the road to Hwachon. From there it continued north in successive positions to help seal off the right apex of the "Iron Triangle" (Chorwon-Kumhwa-Phyongang). In October-November 51 the 937th helped to establish what is now referred to as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), where a stalemate ensued. The battalion continued to serve, supporting both the IX and X Corps by primarily conducting "Direct Fire" missions in the open. "A" Battery returned to battalion control in December 1951. From 3 April 51 to 7 Feb 52, the 937th fired 130,000 rounds and wore out 60 gun tubes. By the end of this period, the original Arkansas National Guard personnel had returned to the United States via the rotation policy, and conscripts and regular army personnel became their replacements.


(Click for a larger view)

In 1952, semi-permanent "fire bases" were established for each firing battery, with bunker type emplacements and fortifications constructed. The 937th, being a 155mm self-propelled "long-tom" gun battalion, was used for special missions where heavy long range "fire and move" artillery was needed. The twelve (four pieces per firing battery) tracked artillery pieces frequently road-marched from their reinforced positions to temporary positions extremely close to the Main Line of Resistance. This routine continued throughout the remainder of hostilities.

After several relocations, April 1953 found the battalion in the Chorwon-Kumhwa sector of the central front. The first Korean augmentation soldiers "KATUSAS" (Korean Army Trained by United States Soldiers) arrived and joined the battalion and were assigned to gun crews and wire sections. June 52 the battalion had dug into semi-permanent positions in the IX Corps sector between Chorwon and Kumhwa just south of the Hantan River. The battalion maintained wo observation posts, and Headquarters Battery was established at Chip-o-ri, alongside route 3C. In October, command was transferred to LTC Jerry Dunn, and the battalion prepared to "dig-in" for the winter-spring months ahead. Counter-battery fire was constantly in effect with many "forward shoots" utilizing platoons, as well as the entire battalion, ordered by IX Corps artillery. The Fire Direction Center also directed fire missions to adjoining artillery units such as the 92nd AFA and 424th FAB.


(Click for a larger view)

During the next eight months, many hill and outpost battles ensued, especially Pork Chop, Outpost Harry, Jackson Heights, Triangle Hill, Papa-san, Old Baldy, Snipers Ridge, Arrowhead, in the IX Corps sector. During this time much difficulty was experienced with the well-used (almost worn out) artillery pieces and their carriages. Several of the tubes literally "blew-up", causing casualties to the gun crews. Tubes were replaced by older World War II inventory from CONUS arsenals. Other 155mm gun (towed) was substituted when needed. Other types of equipment failures were experienced. In spring 1952, new 12-volt system vehicles replaced the original 6-volt World War II-era inventory. Crystal-type radios were replaced with the new VRQ (FM) system, making radio communications greatly improved. Most personnel experienced five-day Rest and Recuperation leaves.

In the last month of the war, July 1953, the 937th fought its most difficult battle and rose to another height of glory. The Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) tried to seize as much territory as possible before the impending armistice terms were signed. On the night of 13 July 1953, the CCF struck from the Kumsong area (north of UN-controlled Kumhwa) against the Eighth Army line, which was primarily defended by six Republic of Korea (ROK) divisions. The major thrust of the attack was made initially by three Chinese Divisions in a sector where U.S. IX Corps and ROK II Corps boundaries met. The UN front collapsed due to the impact of the drive and a retrograde by the friendly forces of 3rd, 9th, & Capitol ROK Divisions. The CCF reinforced the attack with three more divisions for a total of more than 60,000 troops. The ROK II Corps and the right flank of IX US Corps fell back eight miles before the assault to take positions south of the Kinsong River. Battery "B" was outflanked, and on 15-16 July it had to escape cross-country, which it did without loss of either man or gun—a major achievement considering a 59,000-pound motor carriage of ten-year vintage. The UN forces counterattacked, and on order from Eighth Army Headquarters, stopped the offensive on 20 July 1952. This line of defense was stabilized and the signing of the Armistice went into effect 27 July 1953 at 2200 hours.


After the War

On 30 July LTC Jerry Dunn was replaced by LTC Arthur Gunn, and the Battalion returned to their positions prior to 13 July. In August, preparations were made for the battalion to move all but Service Battery to areas further south of the Demarcation Line. Nothing was to be left in the Demilitarized Zone and all equipment/emplacements/wire/tentage was to be removed and transported. Frequent training schedules went into effect and housing was improved in anticipation of the forthcoming winter in the new positions. Headquarters was put in position along the Main Service Route (MSR3) south of "Kalmal" and north of "Pochon." Command inspection by the IX Corps Commander of the Battalion came in September with the highest rating possible awarded. During the Ordnance segment of the Command inspection, ALL small arms weaponry was considered obsolete and scheduled to be replaced, due to its ten-year usage.

From the end of hostilities until 9 October 1954, the 937th remained in general support of IX U.S. Corps, and trained and stayed honed for battle. On 10 October, it was reduced to zero strength and it was released from active federal service on 26 November 1954. The colors were returned to the state government of Arkansas, and they are now on display at Douglas Armory-Ft. Smith, Arkansas. The 937th is now known as 2B/142nd FAB-ANG. No longer a conventional artillery unit, it is equipped with Guided Missile/Self-Propelled Rocketry.

During the Korean War the 937th officially fired 223,400 rounds on the enemy. It had worn out 65 gun tubes in doing so.

– Jimmie L. Clark, Battalion Operations Chief, 1953-54



National Guard Artillery Units

Participation in the Korean War

At the end of World War II, most non-division artillery was de-mobilized and transferred to the National Guard and Army Reserve system in the United States. The "War to End All Wars" provided for a peace time reduced size active duty army to be enforced by a Reserve and National Guard support, as well as a State controlled militia to be used in emergency. In the artillery units, separate "batteries" would be organized in towns of small size and areas of larger cities. In many cases these units were called out at the request of each state’s Governor for emergency and disaster duty as needed. The Federal Government could mobilize these units during the time of national crisis. The latter was the situation on 25 June 1950 when North Korean Peoples Army forces crossed over a fully recognized by treaty border known as the 38th Parallel, which divided north and south Korea. Our Department of Defense urgently needed all available forces to defend that treaty. The peace-time army being so reduced in size required the activation and mobilization of all available forces. The war effort needed all available artillery to unite with United Nations Forces to enforce South Korean sovereignty. This call-up of forces included one particular artillery battalion of the Arkansas National Guard—a 155mm Gun/M40 self-propelled heavy artillery piece. The battalion, known as the 937th Field Artillery Battalion, was composed of a Headquarters Battery, three Firing Batteries (A-B-C), and a Service Battery. The personnel, when full strength, was comprised of 37 officers and 485 enlisted ranks from the towns of Ozark, Mena, Paris, and Fort Smith, Arkansas. After extensive training at Ft. Hood, Texas, the 937th along with eight other activated National Guard Battalions, arrived in Korea, 2-17 February 1951.
 

UNIT STATE TYPE ARTILLERY CORPS
176th AFAB    Pennsylvania    105mm HOW/SP I
196th FAB Tennessee 155mm HOW/TOWED    X
204th FAB Utah 155mm GUN/SP I
213th AFAB Utah 105mm HOW/SP IX
300th AFAB Wyoming 105mm HOW/SP X
936th FAB Arkansas 155mm HOW/TOWED I
937th FAB Arkansas 155mm GUN/SP IX
955th FAB New York 155mm HOW/TOWED IX

The original members were rotated after 12 months duty and were replaced by conscripts and regular army personnel until deactivation
 


937th Field Artillery Battalion

Korea 1950-54


View of the entire 937th  FAB
during the final command inspection, Sept. 1953,
south of Kumhwa
(Click picture for a larger view)

In August 1953, one month after the truce was signed between the United Nations Command and the People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), the 937th Field Artillery was ordered by the Commander of the IX Corps Artillery Headquarters to conduct a "Command Inspection of Troops and Equipment." This type of inspection was for the purpose of examining the equipment, efficiency, and readiness of the personnel, as well as to evaluate the unit’s proficiency for battle.

The 937th Field Artillery Battalion scored the highest rating judged by IX Corps Artillery Group of its class (heavy artillery). The battalion had originally been issued World War II equipment, which it still had at this time, with the exception of vehicles ton (Jeep), ton (Weapons Carrier), 2 ton (Truck), and ambulance. Just four months prior, the battalion had transferred from using 6-volt to 12-volt vehicles, and switched their radios from crystal 600s to F.M. type in April, 1953. The original equipment, especially the artillery pieces, was in constant need of repair, and replacement parts were limited. After World War II, the equipment was issued to the National Guard for training purposes, and the government did not foresee its need for combat purposes from 1945 to 1950.

The Battalion was composed of five batteries. (Infantry units were called "companies.") They included Headquarters, "A" (Able), "B" (Baker), "C" (Charlie), and Service. Firing batteries were comprised of four guns each. The commanding officer of the Battalion held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and each Battery Commander was a 1st Lieutenant or Captain. Headquarters was assigned a M.D. Surgeon who attended the entire Battalion of approximately 500 troops. Generally, a full strength Battery consisted of 80 enlisted men and 2 officers. Battalion headquarters totaled: 1 Lieutenant Colonel, 2 Majors, 2 captains, 5 Lieutenants, and approximately 90 enlisted men.


Charlie battery's #1 gun,
cleaned & ready for inspection
after truce signing
(Click picture for a larger view)

Every heavy artillery unit (155 Howitzer, 155mm gun, 8-inch Howitzer, 8-inch gun, 240mm gun) was a former National Guard unit. Each had its own "nickname" for the unit. The 937th Field Artillery Battalion from the Arkansas National Guard was proudly known as the "Arkansas Long Toms." The 155mm gun (towed or self-propelled) was known in World War II as "Long Toms" due to the longer length of the barrel (tube), which made it more accurate and capable of hitting long range (25000 yards) targets. The code name for the 937th over communication lines was "NEWFORD." A very popular reference throughout the central sector of Korea during the entire campaign of the United Nations forces was, "Get me Newford, Operator,’ or "Here comes the Arkansas Long Toms!"

Chiefs of Section of each had had the option of naming the guns. All Able Battery guns were named with the letter A starting each. In 1952-1954, the following named guns were in the battalion:

  • ABLE BATTERY
    • Ables Ace
    • Anxious Annie
    • Atomic Angel
    • Ables Apple
  • BAKER BATTERY
    • Big Bruiser
    • Bugs Bunny
    • Bunker Buster
    • Bakers Bastard
  • CHARLIE BATTERY
    • Cyd Cherise
    • Constance Cummings
    • Corrine Calvet
    • Claudet Colbert

The Land Line (Telephone) call sign for the Battalion was NEWFORD. All Corps Artillery Battalions code name started with "N" and Division Artillery was started with "K".

Commanding Officers of the Battalion were:

  • LTC. Thomas E. Douglas
  • LTC James D. Hand
  • Maj. James McKenna 8/52-9/52
  • LTC Jerry F. Dunn 9/52-8/53
  • LTC Arthur W. Gunn 8/53-10/54

In October 1954, the 937th Field Artillery Battalion was removed from federal service and the unit was deactivated. All personnel were transferred to other Eighth Army duty, and the colors were returned to the Arkansas National Guard. In November 1954, the battalion was renamed B2-142nd Field Artillery Brigade. The BN was issued new weaponry (8-inch/self-propelled, later became guided missile S/O).

400 M40/GMC (Gun motor carriage) were manufactured until 1945 with approximately only 75 returning to CONUS. Powered by a 970 horsepower air-cooled engine with total weight of 59,000 pounds, the gun had a maximum range of 25715 yards (the longest distance of any artillery piece in the Korean War). The M40s of the 937th Field Artillery were never shipped back to Conus. It is believed that some of them were issued to the French and Israeli governments.

Sans Pareil (without equal)
Jimmie L. Clark/Bn. Opns. Chief/53-54


Notice:
The official casualty list/Korean War Project can be found at www.theriver.com/public/gcompany/937f155.htm.


Dictionary Term:
CANNON, n. An instrument employed in the rectification of national boundaries.

Obituary of Jim L. Clark:

Jim L. Clark, Vet Korean War, beloved husband of Beverly, nee Foxx; dear father of Nicole (Tom) Fritsch; loving grandfather of Jordan; fond uncle of many nieces and nephews. Resting at Beverly Ridge Funeral Home, 10415 S. Kedzie Avenue, where services will be held Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. Interment Abraham Lincoln Cemetery. Member of AL Post #854 and Oak Lawn Lodge #1166 A.F. & A.M. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Mt. Greenwood United Methodist Church, 11000 S. St. Louis, Chicago, IL 60655, appreciated. Visitation Monday, 3 to 9 p.m. 773-779-4411.

Published in the Chicago Tribune on 11/22/2004.


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