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"The job that Service Battery had to do was not very glamorous and it was very hard work when you got into combat. You were more like a "Servants" Battery."
- Conrad Grimshaw
[This is a large memoir so load times may vary.]
I have been waiting for 49 years to start writing a little about my experiences while in Korea with the 213th Armored Field Battalion. The persuasion of my youngest daughter Sheryl has finally prevailed, and I started a month ago. This has been very gratifying because I took the time to talk to a few of the old men of the outfit. I was able to put together some parts of it that I had some questions about.
Thanks go to my wife Joann for saving my old pictures and records to give me renewed information to be able to write this. We began our new married life together while I was in the service, moving to Ft. Lewis after I was activated into the Army. There, we established our first humble home.
I must also acknowledge that this was a situation that probably has never happened before and will probably never happen again: Young men who stayed together from early grade school through high school, college, and then went off to war, all staying together and all coming home safely.
This is my own written history and covers part of my own personal life and record as things happened. I do not have records of the other sections in Service Battery so they can be part of this history, but I would welcome some effort to see this completed for the record of all. My record of dates has been verified with my own record that I kept, as well as with other history sources that I checked.
I will not forget the following people who kept everything together: the personnel section that kept track of us; the cook section that fed us three times a day; the supply section that furnished us everything but ammunition; the motor section that kept our trucks running; and last of all, the ammo section of which I was a part. It hauled thousands of rounds of artillery ammunition from all over Korea to all parts of Korea so the 213th firing battery could be made famous.
In talking with my old buddies, I discovered that there are other incidents that should be part of this record. If I ever rewrite it, I will include some of them. I find that my buddies won’t talk to their families about a lot of the war, but they seem to "spill their guts" when they get with old friends who experienced it with them. Then they will talk for hours.
Southern Utah has always furnished military units, dating back to the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois, the Mormon Battalion (longest march in US history), Territorial Militia, Civil War, Mexican Border, World War I, and World War II, right down to the old 222 National Guard Unit to the 213th organized after World War II to the 222 National Guard Unit here now. In my early years, the National Guard was kind of a fantasy--made up of the young men in the city. It marched in parades and went off to summer camp for training. It drilled once a week because there wasn’t much else to do, and they were the "Big Boys" in town. As kids, we were always thrilled to see the tents pitched on the high school football field as they stayed overnight on their way to camp. It took two days to get there for those units from St. George and Cedar City. The field was a regular tent city with all the rest of the things the Army does.
On one of the local training drills, they brought the big guns (howitzers), then about 75mm, to Beaver for artillery practice. The location was west out in the gulch and brush. Mounted on top of the big gun barrel was a smaller tube or gun that was fired for practice. This was about a 20mm and would shoot about 500 yards. My Dad was interested in watching them, so he took me with him out to watch. This was my first close up artillery experience, and I never forgot it. They fired away at rocks on the hill side and occasionally hit one.
When I was in the 5th grade, World War II broke out with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The guard units were called to active duty, and the whole town turned out to send them off. Schools were let out so many of the students could tell their fathers and brothers goodbye. The formation of the unit took place in the street in front of the old Opera House Armory. They kissed their families goodbye, climbed on the buses and were gone. Some of them would never return. When they got to San Luis, California, some were divided into other units, but some stayed together all during the war. Little did we realize that in ten years we would be doing this same thing over again.
In 1947, the war had been over for a couple of years and the guard units were again organized in Utah. The 213th Armored Field Artillery was organized in Southern Utah. Headquarters was located in Beaver; Service Battery in Beaver; A Battery in Richfield; B Battery in St. George; and C Battery in Fillmore. There were approximately 50 young men and veterans from each of these small towns. In Beaver, we had twelve boys from our 1948 graduating class in Service Battery. That was about 20 percent of our whole graduating class, and that was also the situation in other cities where the units were located.
Many of the World War II officers came into the units with experience and leadership, as well as did non-commissioned officers. Then the high school age boys were recruited to make up the balance of unit strength. We didn’t expect another war to happen in our lifetime. The old officers were always on reserve status, so being in a guard unit was safety for them. We didn’t make much money then, but as the post-war came, it made a little extra money to go to school on for the new recruits, and good money for the old officers.
It was quite an exciting time for us as equipment was unpacked, and the grease was cleaned from the machine guns and rifles. Trucks came slowly because we didn’t have room for them in the old Armory. All the uniforms and blankets smelled like moth balls and the new combat boots were hard to shine with the rough outside leather. Slowly we started to take shape. Close order drill always filled in when there was nothing to do at the moment. The first inspection was something to talk about, and I’m sure we looked more like returned prisoners of war than soldiers. We need to remember that, at that time, no basic training was required for the recruits like there is now. The training came from the experienced non-coms, little by little.
Some of us found surplus paratrooper boots that would hold a shine. They were generally kept for parades and inspections. Our mothers soon found that there were a lot of extra clothes to keep clean and pressed. It was quite a while before we had to get her to sew on rank patches. Some of us were in the high school band and when the 4th of July came and the guard was to march in the parade, we had to march with the guard. They simply told us that wars were won with soldiers, not music.
I feel that I should mention the names of the "early" officers and men who formed the new Service Battery. Edward T. Murdock (he passed away last fall) and Mitch Tolton were captains. Roy Puffer was the Battery Adjutant, and William Low was also a Warrant Officer. Marshall Hollingshead was a Lieutenant. Bill Firmage was also a captain, but was with Headquarters with the communications section. Howard Low was the first First Sergeant, but when he moved away, Jay Gillies came in from the Army and took over the responsibilities of the First Sergeant. Mitch Tolton was then full Battery Commander. World War II non-commissioned officers who came in to help get the battery going included Walt Messinger, Bill Cox, Bryce Barton, Maurice Blackner, Warren Goodwin, Bill Gillies, Bob Gillies, Arthur Fotheringham, and Ward Marquardson.
The following enlisted in the service out of high school and came back in just as we were activated: Jack Holingshead, Lewis (Scrib) Gillies, and Ray Pearce. Ross Van Orden transferred to a Salt Lake unit when he went there to college. Reed Christensen transferred to Logan for school, but was in the 204th Artillery and went to Korea with them. Many members of Service Battery attended the BAC in Cedar, and they also attended drill nights there so they didn’t have to come back to Beaver each week for drill nights. Bob Osborn, Arlo Farnsworth, Bill Firmage, and Douglas McShane stayed with Headquarters sections, most in the communications. I trained with the fire direction, but remained in Service Battery’s Ammo Section.
In the unit, we had four sets of brothers—Jack and Lavar Hollingshead (Marshall Hollingshead was their cousin), Elwin and Ward Marquardson, Douglas and Ronald Briggs, and Gene and Bryce Barton. Bill Low was Dick Tattersall’s uncle. Jay Gillies was Karl Myers’ uncle. We had four that hadn’t graduated from high school yet. I have never figured out how many cousins were in the 213th for sure. Bob Osborn and I were cousins, as were all the Gillies. I guess we were just like a big happy family.
OUR FIRST SERGEANT
In the early days of the National Guard, no basic training was given like there is today. Everything was learned from the old non-coms that came into the unit to help get the new batteries going after World War II. The first sergeant was like the "old Mother Hen" of the outfit. He had to solve all the problems the new men had as well as the new non-coms and section chiefs.
Jay Gillies came into the unit early as the First Sergeant. When we first went up to summer camp at Camp Williams, he made sure that we were all introduced to guard duty and K.P., as well as all the other things Service Battery would have to do. Jay also required us to make sure that our uniforms looked real sharp. Close order drills sharpened us up, too, so we would look good at the review parades. (I am sure that, at first, we all looked like returned prisoners of war rather than soldiers.)
Monday night was "Drill Night" for a long time, and we all began to know everyone in the unit. The old Armory was where the Community Center/Opera House is located today. Coal stoves in each corner kept the place warm in the winter. The old 222nd National Guard unit had their home here as well when they were activated and went off into World War II. Those of us a little younger than the World War II vets all joined the National Guard while we were in high school with the idea that we would not be involved with another war in our lifetime. However, within three years, we were activated to duty during the Korean War.
As we were preparing to get ready to leave, medical examinations were given. This is when we found out that Jay would not be going with us because he had lost sight in one eye. He had served in one of the airborne divisions during the occupation of Japan in the previous conflict, but now they would not take him. I am sure Jay felt badly that he was going to be left behind. Losing our number one man was really a devastating thing for us because of our dependency on him to "keep everything together." Eslin Beeson was the next high ranking non-com, so he had to take over the First Sergeant’s job from Jay Gillies. Eslin thought he was out of the unit and discharged, but in the years that followed World War II, veterans were placed on reserve status for a length of time after they were discharged from active duty. When the Korean War broke out, Eslin was caught up in that one year additional service clause.
All of the men in the unit were upset that Jay wouldn’t be going with us, but even though he didn’t go with us to Korea in body, he did go with us in spirit because of all the things that he had taught us in our early days with the guard unit at Beaver. All those things that a soldier learns in basic training must be remembered well when going off into a war situation. The things Jay taught us I am sure are what helped to save our neck when we finally got to Korea. Everyone watched out for one another and we kept out of situations that didn’t appear to be safe. Those are things that Jay Gillies taught us about what makes a good soldier and what helps to bring them back home alive.
- Captain - Grant Tolton;
- First Lieutenant - Marshall Hollingshead;
- Warrant Officer -
- William A. Low,
- Blair D. Nelson,
- Ephriam L. Uffer;
- Master Sergeant - William O. Cox;
- Sergeant 1st Class -
- Robert F. Gillies,
- Walter L. Messinger;
- Sergeant -
- William B. Beeson,
- Eslin Beeson,
- Walter Blackner,
- Warren Goodwin,
- Conrad Grimshaw,
- Laver Hollingshead;
- Corporal -
- Leroy Barton,
- Douglas Briggs,
- Ronald Briggs,
- James Bohn,
- Ronodo Fasnes,
- Wallace Fordken,
- William Gillies,
- Samuel Hickman,
- Jack Hollingshead,
- Clarence Kirkham,
- Robert Lee,
- Max Low,
- Max Lewis,
- Elvin Marquardson,
- Robert Skinner,
- Ronald Smith,
- Douglas Thomas,
- John Thompson,
- Howard Potter,
- Jay Wilden;
- Private First Class -
- Gordon Blackner,
- Lanay Hoopes Jr.,
- David K. Miller,
- John Bowers,
- Ward Marquardson,
- Richard Tattersall,
- Karl Myers,
- John Oakden,
- Donald Yardly,
- John Barton,
- Earnest R. Pearoe,
- Leon Swindlehurst;
- Privates -
- Herbert L. Coon,
- Clyde A. Evans,
- Douglas McMullin,
- Gerald Scott;
- Recruits -
- W.W. Firmage,
- Robert Osborn,
- Ronald Gale,
- Arlow Farnsworth,
- Douglas McShane
Each June, the Utah National Guard traveled to Camp Williams near Salt Lake City for two weeks of regular and special training, including field artillery firing, small arms practice, inspections, and forced dressed parades. This was where we got our first hands-on experience in the Army. Guard duty, along with KP, was introduced to the troops. We began to see what our job as service battery was all about. We hauled ammunition and supplies, and kept the battalion trucks and guns running. We had many of our trucks stored there because we just didn’t have room at Beaver. The garage part of the Beaver Armory was completed at the new site that year and we could keep more of our trucks and service vehicles there.
The unit started to take shape. We had new "Ike Jackets," and I must say that we did look pretty sharp. We started to know the other unit personnel and the officers. Now going into our second year, we were organized into sections, and each of us now had a job assignment. I was assigned as ammo clerk, and I gained the rank of corporal. The second year of summer camp gave us the chance to operate as sections. We did a better job that second year because by then we knew what we were supposed to do. Every test and exercise was done well as the unit perfected its skills. I suppose that our records did not go unnoticed. As our maintenance training went forward on the local level, some of the battalion equipment was left at Beaver so we could get acquainted with it.
One of our special sports at that time was rabbit hunting. There was one person in the motor section who always had a desire to hunt rabbits. With one of the firing battery’s M7 guns setting in the compound, we envisioned what one of these old babies could do if we used it to chase rabbits. One must remember that we did not get permission from the "Pentagon" to use it. We persuaded the county road crew to give us two barrels of gasoline we said was for an emergency. Those old babies used 50 gallons of gasoline an hour. It would also be correct to say that we had room for two cases of .50 caliber and three cases of .30 caliber machine gun ammo. Since we had some left over from summer camp, we found a place for them in the back of our trucks. I am sure that we had no idea what we would ever use it for, but we figured it might come in handy.
Probably nothing like this had ever happened, or probably ever will happen again, in a small town in the United States. The old tank roared around town every few days as we learned how to drive it. Keep in mind that Beaver’s back streets were not paved, so the rubber tracks on the tank didn’t tear up the roads too badly. The sound became so familiar that even the stray dogs in town wouldn’t chase it. Now was our moment. To the northwest of town were miles of sage brush and rolling hills. With our newly-acquired tank driving skills, the big hunt proceeded. There was an abundance of rabbits, and as we glided across the flats, what the .22s wouldn’t reach, the old mounted .50 caliber machine gun did. I believe it sounded a little like war.
I think the tank ran better in second gear. As we tore up the desert, our observer did not see the big deep wash coming straight on. The old tank gently eased down into the wash on its side. I’m sure this is what you wear those funny helmets for, because we all got a good bang in the head. The situation looked a little bad for the moment as we pondered our next move. Someone had helped or saw someone get a caterpillar out of a ditch, so we spun the tank around nose in and backed it out of the wash. The old track marks are still there but I don’t believe we created an environmental emergency. It took two or three days to get the old tank washed up and clean. If any of the firing batteries ever found sage brush in the bottom of their tank later on, this was the one we used. Some of that brush probably went clear to Korea. There were several other "training" exercises that followed a more gentle procedure. We always gained much knowledge with these little special experiences. I don’t recall which ones helped much when we got to Korea.
I graduated from high school in 1948, and I started college in Cedar at the B.A.C. that fall. There were quite a few of the students attending who were also national guard members from Fillmore, Richfield, Beaver, and St. George. We became very well acquainted because we could attend Monday night drills in the Cedar armory and not have to go home for drill. As the training proceeded, some men stayed in headquarters battery and took positions in fire direction and the wire sections. I trained with the fire direction section but remained with the ammo section in service battery. This later helped me understand ammo supply to the firing batteries.
An Air ROTC unit was organized at BAC that fall. We were required to take at least one ROTC class and wear a uniform on certain days. We were really getting the military thrown at us. The good thing was some of the classes we could take. My specialty was map reading. This was really valuable later in Korea where we had truck convoys moving all over. I never did get lost and knew where we had to go at all times. All we needed was the location coordinates and we could always find the firing batteries. Bob Osborn, my dorm room mate, was selected to be the student commander. I had some assignment like drill master in one of the three sections. Between the guard and the ROTC, we hung right in there.
Summer camp came again, and we had a lot of artillery drills that June. The 213th was then considered a very well-trained unit. Best unit awards came from the Army inspection teams, and everything was falling in place. Training continued that fall and winter, and our two week training at Camp Williams in June of 1950 was excellent. We were a real mobile unit with 105mm howitzers mounted on M7 tank chassis. As we returned to our summer employment jobs, everything was running smoothly. Then the Korean War broke out and we became very nervous.
By the last week in July, we knew what was about to happen. We were all told by rumor and word of mouth to check in with our battery clerk and tell him where we could be found at a moment’s notice. Service Battery had good ratings from the Regular Army inspection teams, so we were not very surprised when we were notified that we would be activated into the Army and sent to Fort Lewis, Washington. The official word to report to our armory came on the 3rd of August 1950. I was in Cedar City when the news that our unit was being activated because of the war was broadcast over the Cedar radio station. We all met at the armory at a given time, and there we were told we had seven days to get our affairs in order. I had been working construction in Cedar City that summer and had an apartment rented for next year for school. I was also planning to get married. I quit my job and moved home to Beaver. I knew that Service Battery had a lot to get ready to go because we had a lot of stored equipment of the other units. We started boxing everything we could, even though we weren’t officially activated until 19 August 1950. History was now repeating itself 10 years after the local guard units were activated for World War II. On the 19th, we were officially in the Army, and from then on we had to spend nearly every day at the Armory getting things packed and ready to go. They fed us at the Elite Café, where we were marched for each meal. Each person’s equipment was checked. Some were turned in and new items issued.
In those days, courtship and marriage was not a sudden thing. Joann had been my best girl for over four years and we planned to get married in the fall and go on to school. The wedding date was now changed to 10 August. You might just say that there was a bit of "organized confusion" at this point in time. I might also mention that there was a wedding in Beaver almost every night except Sunday during the ten days before we left for Fort Lewis. Joann and I were married in the Manti LDS Temple about midnight on the 10th of August. My cousin Bob and Iris Osborn got married on the 11th. Howard and Lavern Bradshaw were married on the 14th. Lavar and Patsy Hollingshead were married on the 19th. My bride and I went on a short honeymoon together down through the parks. By this time I had my sergeant rating in the battalion ammo train section and I had 30 men in my section. In spite of that grown-up responsibility, I still had to take my mother to the courthouse to sign for me to get my marriage license. I wouldn’t be 21 years old until 26 August.
From the time the official word went out to report to the armory on August 3rd until we got our marching orders on August 29, everyone was busy making preparations for our departure. Twenty-six days was not very long to get your affairs in order, have weddings, take care of the farm and business, find a place to store your earthly possessions, cut the hay, etc.
We spent many days loading our trucks, guns, and equipment on flat cars. This train hauled the motorized vehicles and other equipment of the 213th Battalion, and the troops followed the next day on a special train that would take them right to the North Fort of Fort Lewis. Railroad cars were added to the vehicle train at Delta for Fillmore and Richfield, as well as for the special troop train. Service Battery also had to furnish guards on the vehicle train, and they had to leave the day before us.
All of the townspeople in the small towns of Southern Utah were in kind of an uproar, as all of the young men and the old non-coms who had been off to World War II were now leaving just as the Korean War was taking a turn for the worst again. At this time, no one knew exactly where we would wind up. The only thing we really knew was that Fort Lewis was kind of a staging area for troops going to the Far East. You can imagine the turmoil that went through all these little towns. Who would manage businesses? Who would take care of the farm? These same concerns had been voiced when the young men of these towns left for World War II, and they were the same concerns voiced in March of 2003 when the local national guard was activated for the war on terrorism in the Middle East.
The day came (August 29, 1950) when we were to leave. Again, fathers, mothers, wives, children, and friends met to say their good byes. The Service Battery Unit formed in the street in front of the old Opera House Armory just like the previous guard unit had done in 1940. The roll was called, and as our name was announced, we boarded the buses that took us to the railroad station in Cedar City. I think all of Beaver followed to the railroad station. We again gave our families our love and then boarded the train for Fort Lewis.
It was a very emotional time for everyone, especially those who remembered similar farewells being said to the young men who had left to serve in World War II. We didn’t realize at this time that all of us would come back. Out of the nineteen field artillery units that were called early into the Korean conflict, the 213th was the only one that didn’t lose someone. This I believe was because of the fact that all of the officers and men were mostly from Southern Utah and they looked out for one another. (We were nicknamed the "Mormon Battalion", as well as the "Six Hundred Stripling Warriors" from a verse in the Bible.) Also, we knew that a Greater Being was looking out for us as well. Colonel Dalley, who was the unit commander, was a very religious man. He had a real load put upon him taking all these young men off to combat and having the responsibility to bring them all back home alive. He had light brown hair when we left for Korea, but he came home a few months later with white hair and 45 pounds lighter because of his concern for his men.
We traveled for two days and nights, during which time our cooks had to set up a kitchen and feed us as we traveled to the North Fort that was to be our new home for the coming months. When it arrived at its destination, the train slowly backed into the North Fort area. It was a little foggy when we got there, so it took a few days for me to find north and south. For the next few days after our arrival, we settled into our barracks, cleaning and trying to make it our new home. Back in Utah, wives and new brides were awaiting instructions as to when they might be able to join us. It was hard to find a phone that wasn’t tied up for an hour or two so you could call home to your family. The lines at the phones got longer each day as more tried to reach their families.
Meanwhile, the Army didn’t waste much time getting us out to the firing range. We fired for most of the fast reserve units that trained on their way to Korea. We fired the overhead infiltration courses almost every day, using certified 105 howitzer ammo. We spent almost every day with the ammo section out on the ranges doing something. We had to leave our loaded ammo trucks in the dump on the South Fort. We got to know the civilian employees very well. We drew a lot of small arms ammo and our units spent a lot of time firing and qualifying for their marksman rating. I fired for my own practice every time there was a slot open on the line. I got to be very good with a .30 caliber carbine. Grenades, bazookas, and land mines were our specialty. We had to turn in one round of 105 brass for every one we drew. Sometimes we would get our count behind. The civilian employee that counted the brass was always a little tipsy. We could take him a little wine jug and we could get our brass count right every time.
One day I was called to Colonel Dalley’s office to be questioned about a dirty range condition. Corps Headquarters said we had left with live rounds strewn around. Dalley said to me, "Sergeant Grimshaw, did our units leave the range dirty?" I replied that we never left our ranges dirty. He then asked me to take my men and clean it up and then report back to him when it was done. We had never used that range before, so as we picked up the mess and live rounds, we carefully recorded the lot numbers that were logged in the ammo dump record book when they were issued. We then went back to our civilian friends at the ammo dump to find out who had been supplied with that lot number. We found out that it was Headquarters Battery of Corps Headquarters. When I reported back to Colonel Dalley what I had found, he took me by the arm and we marched down the aisles of brass to the general’s office. Colonel Dalley was very mad and he asked me to repeat what I had found. The old General apologized for us having to clean up their mess. He excused us, saying that he would take appropriate action. As we left the building, Colonel Dalley told me something that I will always remember. He said, "Sergeant Grimshaw, I can always trust you to do what is right." Several times in the years that followed Korea he mentioned the day that we got "the General’s goat."
As we settled in a little more, some of us ventured out into the world to see if we could find some small homes or apartments so that we could bring our wives. We found five small summer cottages on American Lake by the main gate to the Madigan Veterans Hospital. Donald Yardley, Bob Osborn, Marshall Hollingshead, Robert Lee, and I rented them and sent for our wives. Lavar Hollingshead and Roy Puffer lived just down the street one half block. Many others found places for their wives and families close to the North Fort.
My new wife had mailed two cardboard boxes of clothes and dishes. This was the first indication that she was coming for sure. Two weeks after we arrived at Ft. Lewis, our wives came the best way they could. Most shared rides and expenses with those who had cars.
The little house that Joann and I set up housekeeping in had a roof that didn’t leak, running water, electricity, four small windows, an ice box, a wood stove that had been converted to oil, and a two-piece living room couch that made out into a bed that went off in different directions each night. It also had one noisy cricket, which I threw my boot at one night and killed. Our humble family beginning started here. With no car, our transportation was provided mostly by bus and the officers’ wives who had cars and felt sorry for us. We lived here for four and a half months, and I believe it rained for four of those months without any sunshine.
As we lived off the fort, Warrant Officer Roy Puffer would pick us up each morning and take us to the fort, which was only a short distance from where we lived. When we were off duty, we played a lot of cards and went to movies at the Lake Wood Shopping Center. We had to watch the time because, if it was a long show, we missed the last bus schedule and we had to walk home. We always went into Tacoma on Sundays. We would go to church on 13th Street or to a movie, eat dinner at the California Oyster House, and then go home. There was no television back then.
When our guard unit arrived in Fort Lewis, the battalion strength was at sixty percent. This was the usual manpower level for peacetime guard units. Then came the regular army and reserves to make up the other forty percent. We had a real assortment of personnel coming into the units. Those with mechanical experience were placed in the motor section. Because the supply section operated from day one to keep everyone fed and clothed, that section was more at operating level than the ammo section, so we got most of the incoming personnel until they could find a place for them. We had retired master sergeants on crutches and canes and one even used a wheelchair. They were soon discharged, but one or two in the regular army stayed and went with us to Korea. A Master Sergeant McAvoy later became the first sergeant.
We kept about the same schedule for weeks. They had us out on the firing ranges and we fired for the special infiltration courses that all troops had to go through before they shipped them out to Korea. We were the only field artillery outfit qualified to fire artillery rounds overhead at close range. We used certified ammunition, and we got to know the Ammo Dump personnel real well.
We also had to take our turn at guard duty. I never pulled a day of KP, but I had enough guard duty to make up for it. Living off the base was easy for us because the northeast gate of North Fort Lewis was about a block from where we lived. After the guard was posted, the officer of the day and I would go home. Our guys would take me home in the guard jeep so my wife wouldn’t have to stay alone, and then they would change the guard when the time came.
As I have already mentioned, we had rain and more rain. Finding some place to hide out or work was something else. We would box empty small arms brass in the furnace room where it was warm when we had a down pour. We had more rank than you could imagine. We had old reserve sergeants that they put into the ammo section until they could get them discharged back on a disability discharge. What a waste of time. The "fur" sure would fly when this little "green" sergeant tried to get them to do something.
Out on the firing range there were a lot of old trucks and jeeps being used for artillery practice. Lavar Hollingshead and I had the idea that we just might find enough good parts to put a jeep together. We had no cars, and felt that with a jeep, the parts source was good enough to keep it running. We hit the range quite regularly, taking wheels and tires off the 2 ½ ton GMC trucks. The trucks they gave us at Fort Lewis to make up our combat level were those turned in by other units that were issued new ones when they went to Korea. They didn’t have spare tires and sometimes they had broken glass. Little did we know that when we were ready to go, there would be no more new trucks available to issue to us. The old trucks went with us to Korea with just a new coat of paint. We were always short of tires.
Now back to the jeep project… Hiding our newly acquired jeep parts was no easy task. A tarped cargo trailer worked fine for a while. When inspection time came, it was issued to the ammo section and parked at the ammo dump on South Fort. If we would have had just two more months, I believe we would have had a winner. We realized that it wouldn’t be a "Cadillac", but it would be wheels. We had everything except a good body. Suddenly, the interest changed, with new special things starting to arrive. All vehicles were to be painted with camouflage colors, and wooden covers arrived for the glass windows. We reported every week down to the medics for new shots that had an oriental sound. We knew these were not for a weekend pass down to "Chinatown."
We all had to give up "deer season" that year. Thanksgiving came and the cooks (Walt Messinger and Doug Thomas) did a marvelous job of fixing the dinner for all the troops and their families. Bill Merrill, the mayor of Beaver, called, and his voice was put into the loud speaker as we ate. He assured us that they would keep everything in "Beaver" in good shape until we returned. I should also mention here that all extra rations that came to the kitchen were divided and given to the families that needed them. Some of the young families had a hard time financially to keep their rent paid and food on the table.
Because this was the longest she had ever been gone from home, Joann was homesick. I had planned early for her to go home for Christmas. We saved all our change from groceries and whatever for the going home fund. My father had a serious heart attack in September. I knew it was not a good idea for me to try to go home then, so Christmas was kind of special time for me also and I hoped that we could both make it home. It looked like most of the "new rank" would have to stay and keep things together over the holidays. Captain Roy Puffer agreed that he would give Joann a ride home when he and his wife left for the holidays. The plan was that, if I could get away, I would come home on my own later. As it turned out, I did get to go home. The little bottle of grocery money change paid my bus ticket to Beaver and I even had $1.75 left over to eat on for the two days. Just to be home for Christmas was about the best thing that would happen that year.
Douglas and Ronnie Briggs purchased a new Ford car to drive back to the fort after the holidays. They let Joann and I ride back with them to Fort Lewis. This was the day before New Years and we drove day and night to get back. When everyone returned, everything started to happen. Wooden shipping boxes arrived from the base carpenter’s shop and all equipment was packed. We didn’t know the exact shipping out day, but we started to get our own affairs in order. Four and a half months had passed since we arrived in Fort Lewis, but we were just now on the verge of shipping out to the Far East. We had been fully trained and ready to go for at least two months prior to that, but in researching the unit history years later, I found out that the Army just didn’t have the ships to haul us at that time. In fact, the General Meigs troops ship that was to take us to Korea four months after we arrived at Fort Lewis had to be taken out of "moth balls" for service in the Korean War.
The trucks, guns, and boxes were now ready for shipment and taken to Fort Lawton by Seattle to be loaded on transports. Finally, we were given the notice that personnel were to move to Fort Lawton. A few days before we left, our neighbor gave Bob and Iris, Joann and me, a ride to the Seattle Airport the night of the 22nd. Joann and Iris flew to Salt Lake City, where they were met by Iris’s parents and then were driven by car to Beaver. We knew on the 23rd, when we were able to contact our wives by phone, that they had made it back to Beaver safely. I went back to our little home alone and mailed four boxes back to Beaver. Five weeks later, I learned that Joann had brought back a special package from our weeks together at Fort Lewis: she was carrying our first child. It would be six months before I would see my new little wife again.
At Fort Lawton, we got our records updated and received shots and more shots for things we had never heard of before. We got new sets of fatigues and some different clothes, but no cold weather coats or boots or down-filled sleeping bag liners for our sleeping bags. On the fourth night there, we boarded the USNTS General Meigs on January 23, 1951 from Pier 97. The ship sailed during the night of January 26, 1951, during high tide. We awoke in the morning chasing a bucket or trying to find the "head," as the Navy calls them. The old boat rocked pretty badly for a while and home sickness was soon replaced by sea sickness. We went through the Straits of Juan de Fuca which separated the United States from Canada, and then followed the land swells down the coast to San Francisco for the next four days. There, we waited dockside for three additional days while more men and equipment from Fort Ord were brought onboard. On the afternoon of January 29, 1951, we waved goodbye to the Golden Gate Bridge and the good old USA.
The ship was now fully-loaded with equipment and 5,100 troops. The ship was 622 feet long, had a displacement of 20,000 tons, and traveled at 21 knots. It was operated by the U.S. Merchant Marine with a crew of 270 men and 6 Navy officers. Aboard the ship were the following units: 213 Armored Field Artillery Battalion; 300 Armored Field Artillery Battalion; 987th Armored Field Artillery Battalion; 194th Engineer Combat Battalion; 101st Signal Corps Battalion; HQ and HQ Detachment, 30th Ordnance Battalion; 138th Engineer Pontoon Bridge Company; 92nd Engineer Search Light Company; 930th Ordnance Ammunition Company; and the 866th Transport Company. We made friends with many of them. One of these units was a black ammunition company. One captain in their outfit was quite friendly and we ran into them several times later on in Korea as we picked up ammo. When we came to get the ammo, he got his men moving to load us. I remember what he would tell his troops: "There are too many Chiefs and not enough Indians in this outfit."
It was amazing to me how so much inconvenience could be built into a troop ship. We were five levels down with bunks so high you could touch the ceiling flat-footed. This was the second trip for the ship after being taken out of moth balls. The ventilating fans didn’t work all the time and some of the troops were sea sick most of the time. The "head" was located in the front and rear of the ship. This area of necessity was put there for convenience, not dignity. Twenty salt water showers were available, with one fresh water shower to rinse off with at a trickle. I think the main water supply went to the officers’ section. When we all got sea sick from the rough seas, some sat on the "pot" and some had their head in it. The floors got very wet and slick from those that didn’t quite make it.
I don’t remember how many times a day they fed us, but in the middle of the day we were fed standing up—two eggs with shells on them (I am sure they were "roasted" in a large Autoclave cooker), juice or coffee, and sometimes a small sausage or meat patty. In rough seas, your dinner wound up in the "head" or you saved your eggs to throw at the seagulls. Just laying around, your body didn’t require much food.
With nothing much to do except look at water, the trip was quite boring. Ten days out, the sea started to become quite rough. We had to stay off the decks at times to keep from being washed overboard. As we passed off Wake Island we could see land, also whales and flying fish as the waves sprayed water. We received the book, "Easy Way to Speak Korean", while we were on the ship, and some of the men studied it to try to get some kind of understanding of the Korean language.
We finally docked in Yokohama, Japan, on February 13, 1951. We were allowed off the ship for two hours while fuel and water were taken on so the ship could make it back from Korea. Two of our reserves with rank didn’t come back from shore leave. One had appendicitis and the other went AWOL. It took two more days for the Meigs to get to Korea. Somewhere between Yokohama, Japan, and Pusan, Korea, Lavar Hollingshead and I got our sergeant first class stripes on 14 February 1951. We docked in Pusan, Korea, sometime during high tide on 16 February 1951. We had been on that ship for about 21 days. As the troops unloaded, truck transportation companies took us to an assembly staging area for a few days until some of our trucks arrived so we could move.
After we off-loaded, we were taken by large open transport trucks to a general assembly area on the north outskirts of Pusan. On the short trip to that area, we saw for the first time the thousands of Korean people who had to flee south from their homes located up north around the 38th parallel. Coming off of that sweaty old ship was a relief to all of us, but we about froze until we could get winter sleeping bags, hats, and shoe packs. They fed us in a large mess facility every day while we waited for our supplies to arrive at Pusan. About a week later, we got some of our trucks to move out into our own assembly area at Yangsang, which was some ten miles north of Pusan. I believe it was called the "Hileigh" assembly area.
Our trucks and weapons came on four separate "Victory ships." (We had a good laugh when we found out that one of these ships was called the "Beaver Victory.") As they docked, we had to meet the ships each day to unload the equipment. Then we took it to the new camp on the sandy river bottoms and put everything together. (Some of the best trucks we had came clear from little old Beaver, Utah. Others they gave us were about junk.)
We soon discovered that if you had a fifth of good liquor, you could get anything that was unloaded off the Victory ships. It didn’t take us long to discover that you had to be there when your equipment came off of a ship, or you would probably lose it. We ourselves acquired many extra pieces of equipment because of our bargaining skills. One of them was a heated shower unit that we were not supposed to have. It sure was nice! We kind of had this idea that everything in the Army belonged to everyone in the Army, but who had it was who it belonged to at the moment.
We needed generators to afford us the luxuries of modern living. We tried our luck at "buying with liquor". Some outfit’s trailer was unloaded with the word "Generator" marked on the side. Our new proud possession was immediately taken to the camp and unpacked. The trailer unfolded into a tent repair unit with a small generator inside. Needless to say, it was returned. About this time the MPs came, looking in our outfit for the generator somebody had taken at the staging area.
The ammo section picked up its basic load of all kinds of munitions. Small arms ammo was issued to the troops as soon as we had a truck to go after it. I might say that there was wisdom in moving the troops to the country before live rounds were issued. The latrines and kitchen garbage pits were dug by those who accidentally fired their weapons. It seemed like forever before all the trucks and guns came. All ammo came from the big ammunition dump at Haeunde, which was east of Pusan. We were still doing some fire training in the nearby hills. Each battery was allowed two rounds of 4.5 bazooka anti-tank ammunition with which to practice. The problem was, there were no North Korean tanks left to shoot, so these were packed away in the things we didn’t use.
Every artillery unit had to pass a test before it was allowed to go into the combat zone. The battalion fired some problems while we were in the assembly area and the Army inspection teams rated us okay. We passed really quickly because the fire direction section of headquarters had been schooled by Major Max Dalley during the voyage over to Korea. He was a schoolteacher, and had made good use of the spare time. Now into the last of March, we were ready to move forward to the combat zone.
About ten jeeps with the advance party drove from Pusan to Kapyong. This took about three days on some pretty bad roads. Lieutenant Swee, driver Wallace Fordam, and I went as the ammo section. It was very interesting going over the flat area where thousands of Chinese soldiers had been killed just months before. The main part of the trucks and guns was sent back down to the docks at Pusan, where they were loaded on LSTs that took them around to Inchon. They stayed in Seoul the first night, and then we all met at Kapyong around the 5th or 6th of April. Service Battery set up low in the valley next to an Australian Army unit. We located just over the bridge and to the east of them. The road near which we set up the battery was located on the north side (the front line side) of the Han River. Some twenty miles east of us was the city of Chunchon, and north of that city was the Hwachon Reservoir. Seoul was fifty miles to the west of us. This east/west road would be quite a place for us all later.
We set up in a nut orchard and began to make our unit a little more comfortable. We put wood doors on our tents, and set up the shower unit by a clear stream where we could see out each direction for quite a way. The ground was a little frozen when we pitched our squad tents. A little mound of dirt was found in the corner where my bunk was to be. My folding cot straddled a little mound of dirt. In about four days, with heat in the tent, we noticed a smell like a dead mouse. Each day it became a little stronger. It didn’t take us long to discover that there was a dead Chinaman under my bed with about three inches of dirt over him. Needless to say, he got a more permanent burial.
We were in sort of a holding pattern in this area while our trucks hauled ammunition from the railroad station at Seoul. I guess Army Intelligence knew that the Chinese troops were massing above us and that the spring push was about to begin. Our job was to haul the full basic load of ammunition and supplies to the Service Battery area and then wait for something to happen.
The old trucks now began to show some use. We most always sent a jeep or ¾ ton chase vehicle with the ammo convoys in case we had trouble. I always sent eight or ten trucks at a time for safety in numbers. I believe the next two weeks brought the heaviest load the ammo section ever had put on them. We had to haul ammo over 50 miles, and it would take eight hours just to make the round trip. We had fifteen 2 ½ ton trucks, but only twelve of them would hold up on the rough roads. We overloaded them at first, but then decided we had to go from six tons to three and a half tons to keep the springs and wheels from breaking. Trying to pull an ammo trailer over the rough terrain was a disaster.
When we finally caught up, we had to haul for some of the IX Corps units who had already lost men and trucks. I am sure that our supply section had the same problems as they hauled supplies to the firing batteries. Truck convoys were often hit at night, so we kept our trucks off the roads at night by stock-piling thousands of rounds of artillery ammo at Service Battery. One part of the ammo section would haul to the firing batteries in the morning, while part would go early to the ammo supply points so they could be back before dark. This kept the cook section in trouble trying to keep hot meals ready for the men at all hours. We finally decided to have one hot meal in the morning, and then we would eat "C" rations for the next two on the road so the cook section could get cleaned up. The drivers got real tired of "C" rations, but we got by.
Our first mail finally came five weeks after we left Fort Lewis. In it, three of us found out for sure that we were going to be fathers. Joann was very sick with the morning blues and her mother wrote a few letters for her. Korea was full of orphan babies, and I told her in one of my letters that I could buy any number of babies for a dollar. If this baby was going to be a problem, she could just forget it for now.
We had several changes in our Service Battery commanders around this time. Captain Mitch Tolton, our first battery commander, had first been assigned as a kind of properties officer to take care of things after we left Ft. Lewis. He was later flown over to Korea. An experienced artillery officer, the powers that be switched him from Service Battery commander to Headquarters Battery C.O. Lt. Marshall Hollingshead was then assigned as Service Battery Commander, but he was sent back to the States for medical reasons. Captain Norton James, who had been the Battery Adjutant, was reassigned as Service Battery commander. Captain James Hoyle from Headquarters Company replaced Captain James as the adjutant.
James, who was not a seasoned combat artillery officer, was edgy in a war zone. He was not particularly popular with the men who served under him. By this time, all of our sections were running smoothly and everyone knew what they had to do, but I don’t think that Captain James realized all the work that we had to do. He "chewed" on the men quite often. The more he pulled "regular Army stuff" on us, the more we just ignored him. Patience never was one of my virtues, so I had a little "rub" with Captain James quite often. I felt the morale of the men at this time was very important. I never expected the men in the ammo section to have to do more than they could do, and it bothered me that the captain was always chewing on them. We did more than our fair share of work. We spent a lot of maintenance hours on our trucks and equipment to keep them in operating condition. Sometimes the men were lucky just to get a shower once a week and get their clothes washed. One hot meal and two of "C" rations was what they got to eat for many days. From time to time, I felt that a break was not only necessary, it was deserved. Apparently, Captain James didn’t agree. He just kept chewing away at the men.
The cause of the long hours of maintenance had a lot to do with the quality of the equipment that was assigned to us when we were heading for Korea. When we were about to leave Fort Lewis, there was an investigation, initiated by some government agency, as to the worthiness of our equipment. Apparently someone complained that our equipment wasn’t in too good of shape. Nevertheless, we went with what we had. The only thing that I could see the Korean War did was get rid of the old munitions and equipment left over from World War II. I took most of the short wheel base trucks (12 of them) because I thought they would hold up longer on the rough roads. Front springs breaking was a common problem, and replacement parts were very hard to find. I believe that I mentioned before that we picked up parts from wrecked trucks to keep going. Artillery shrapnel on the road flattened our tires.
A few of the old trucks that we had were equipped with anti-aircraft ring mounts for 50 caliber machine guns. Our guns were always a pain to carry and take care of. We decided to mount our two 50s on two of the trucks and keep the guns wrapped in shelter halves. I believe these guns shining in the moonlight helped to keep our trucks safer at night. The section’s 30 caliber machine gun was mounted on the jeep and used likewise. When we lost the front follower on the 30 caliber, I picked up a wreck at the ordnance scrap rail car for parts. I came back from the ammo run just before chow time at night and threw the old gun down by our squad tent door. Captain James came strolling by on his way to the cook tent and saw the old dirty gun. "Sergeant Grimshaw," he said. "Is this your gun?" I replied that it was. "You will clean it and bring it to me for inspection before you eat," he told me. "Yes sir," I said. I reached down and unscrewed the follower off the old gun. Grabbing our clean 30 just inside the tent door, I followed about ten steps behind him on the way to chow. "Sir," I said. "The gun is now ready for inspection." As he turned around, he knew that I was fooling with him and he didn’t enjoy dinner very well that night. That was the way we always seemed to get along, and our friendship never seemed to improve. Lieutenant Swee was our ammo officer and he brought the information from headquarters as to what was needed. It seemed the more we stayed away from Captain James, the better things went.
Kapyong was quite a pretty place with streams of water coming out of the hills in two directions and flowing to the Han River on the south side of the valley. Our firing batteries were placed up in the canyons to the north and east. These canyons were very steep and seemed to me to be a cross between Bakers Canyon and the Big Twist here in Utah, with only one road in. This made it difficult to get out quickly, and very easy to get trapped. Next to our artillery batteries were units from the 6th South Korean (ROK) Army and the Australian infantry. We were camped by their support group.
Because we spent a lot of time in this area, I should mention a little about the valley and the people who lived there. Korea is a very old land. At the time of the Korean War, most of the modern development had been done while Korea was occupied by the Japanese. They built beautiful long spanned railroad bridges that crossed the wide rivers, sometimes ten spans across with huge concrete pillars. As the result of war, all the bridges were bombed and the spans were missing when we arrived there.
Kaypong was a small village at the mouth of a large, long canyon that ran north and east. Rice paddies dotted the hills everywhere they could flatten the land out and make it hold water. Korean homes were made of wood frame with mud plaster, with roofs thatched with rice stocks. Each family unit ate and cooked in one large room, and there was a bedroom for each couple. The cooking was done in the center large room in a big cast iron kettle on a hearth. The smoke went up through the roof in a tile or wood flue, and the thatched roofs caught on fire very easily from the hot flue. A few people were still living in the homes that weren’t destroyed. A fence usually surrounded the small compound, and a gate of some sort was closed at night. A rope made from rice straw with a piece of charcoal in the middle was stretched across the gate when there was a baby boy in the family. I don’t know what they used for a girl, but not many baby girls were allowed to live.
The Korean men were short and very strong. They used an "A" frame on their backs to carry everything. The legs of the frame would be about a foot off the ground, and they packed a forked walking stick that they used to stand the "A" frame up. Everything was then loaded in baskets or rolled packs and then picked up. The trees were very small and the Korean people would go to the hills each day and sweep needles and leaves from under them for fire material for the cooking stove and for heat. The heavier things were hauled on a wood wagon or cart pulled by the old family cow or water buffalo. Fish was cooked with rice, and sometimes it smelled real good. The middle-aged kids tried to catch fish in the rivers. Once we dropped a hand grenade in a big deep hole in the river and killed a lot of big fish for them. After that, the kids stopped us on the road, pointed to the water, and said, "Go Boom." The noise made everyone nervous, so we had to quit.
The Korean people honored the old people in their families. When the old "Papasan" retired or just got too old to work, he wore a funny bird cage wire hat on his head, along with baggy pants with a top jacket and vest. Fabric was in short supply, so a lot of those suits were made from our old wool GI blankets. The Koreans also buried their dead according to family seniority, starting at the top of a side hill and adding more round mounds as they came down. They took a lot of pride in keeping the mounds green and well cared for. When the families were forced south, if someone passed away, the family packed them back to the old family burial plot wrapped in a blanket tied to a pole. Many of these people were killed as they went on doing their thing as the battle went on.
The Han (Puchan Gang) River ran from the Hwachon Reservoir west past Inchon and clear to the ocean. The river was a block to two blocks wide, with a narrow winding road on the north side most of the way. From Kapyong to Seoul was about 35 air miles, but the road miles were about 50. Chunchon was about 20 miles to the east along a narrow, elevated road. The Han River could be crossed safely on two bridges. About eight miles south of us, near a village called Punwan-ni, was a pontoon bridge that had to be taken out every time it rained hard. The other bridge was a railroad bridge located outside of Seoul. The road up Kapyong canyon to the north was very steep and almost impassable when wet. We stayed in this area until around the 22nd of April, when we were overran by the Chinese, and we had to pull back.
In the 22 days that we were at this location, large amounts of artillery 105mm ammunition were hauled to the firing batteries. Our trucks could only haul 144 rounds each load, so we also had a large stockpile loaded on ammo trailers and spare trucks at the service battery location. The regular solid axle ammo trailers were too rough on the roads, and too hard to pull with our old trucks. We parked them in the area so we could get them in a hurry if needed. Trip flares were set out around the area for protection at night. These had wires that were stretched tight. Anything that moved at night would set them off. When they were tripped, they shot high in the air and had a small parachute that carried the flare to illuminate the sky as they came down slowly. Everything in Korea seemed to move at night, so I took the job of pulling the pins at night and putting them back in the morning because I could always sleep better when I was sure they were done. The artillery shells came packed in two’s in wooden boxes. They weighed about 85 pounds. We took the rounds out of the wooden boxes, storing the complete round in its fiber container so that we could store and haul more. We then gave the wooden boxes to the Korean people in order to help rebuild their homes. When you read in the unit histories about the thousands of rounds the artillery fired in one and two day firing missions, you can see that we had a hard job keeping up.
On one of the ammo runs up the main road of Chunchon, we spotted a big truck down by the water’s edge, about 300 feet down off the edge of the dugway. We told the motor section about it because we were always looking for truck parts to keep everything running. I believe they used the tank retriever and the other big truck wrecker to pull it up onto the road and move it back to Service Battery to work on it. She looked pretty bad because it had been an old two-boom wrecker that had been rebuilt at the Tooele Army Dept. It got the name "Old Never-Run", but before long the boys had it started and running. They found an old truck bed to put on it, and then used it for the oil and grease truck so they didn’t have to unload every time we moved.
On the 21st of April, the Chinese (CCF) started the spring offensive and began to push south of the 38th parallel. We were in the middle of this push. Years later, I researched the days’ events and the time that the following things happened. I realized that there were a lot of mistakes made and I believe that things could have been handled better. We were just lucky that some of us were not killed as a result of the mistakes.
Not long after we had set up Service Battery, our firing batteries were pulled out of the Kapyong canyon and moved to an area by the Hwachon Reservoir above Chunchon. The first artillery rounds were fired by B Battery on the 22nd of April. Later that afternoon, they were pulled back to Kapyong canyon to help stop a Chinese push against the Australians and the Sixth ROK Division. Armored artillery was attached to X Corps and supported the infantry, but being a very versatile unit, artillery did not provide fire support for any one given line company. Sometimes the artillery supported the Australians. At other times it supported Marines, ROK divisions, Army regiments, or what have you. Traditionally, firing batteries and service batteries did not travel together.
The Sixth ROK Division was a Korean unit that would stay and fight if our people were with them. But when our infantry moved a little distance from them, they broke and ran as the CCF started to put pressure on them. They ran out of the mountains and down the roads. Many passed down the Kapyong valley and past our unit early on the 22nd of April. Needless to say, we were very concerned about what we could (and couldn’t) see happening. At one time I went out in the road where they were running and took two .30 caliber carbines off their shoulders and just gave them a kick in the pants. They never even looked back. I took the rifles because I wanted something that would shoot farther than the pistol that I had been issued. These two rifles I later sent home.
Around 9 p.m. that night, W.O. Puffer came to me and said that Captain James had ordered him to go up to Headquarters and find out if we were to pull back. If we were, he was to find out where we should go. He wanted me to drive him up there. As mentioned, the firing batteries had pulled back out of the Chunchon area and had come back around Kapyong early in the afternoon to their old positions up in the Kapyong canyon. I drove a ¾ ton weapons carrier with Roy Puffer as the only passenger. (Roy Puffer wrote a letter to me in 1956 about this, explaining what we had to do. The text of his letter can be found later in this memoir.) I would say that going up the canyon with all the South Korean soldiers pouring out of the hills was like driving through a herd of sheep. We reached the 213th after going through the Australians and the remaining troops, and finally found headquarters battery.
W.O. Puffer was given instructions to have Service Battery move back as needed to safer ground. Coming down the canyon through the South Korean troops was really bad because they tried to climb on the truck to get out. W.O. Puffer stood in the back and kicked them off, and I either hit some of them or just ran over them. When we arrived back at Service Battery’s position, we found out that Captain James had already left, taking some trucks and big guns, but leaving equipment and supplies everywhere, not to mention personnel. We immediately instructed the truck drivers to hook on to ammo trailers and load what they could. I went to the shower unit with the ¾ ton and hooked on, taking the boiler and the nozzles. I couldn’t get the tent down by myself, so I left it. You could very well say that the confusion was nor organized. I believe now that the trucks left in three different bunches, and we were the last. If someone up at headquarters had let us know what was happening just two hours sooner, the whole battalion would have had things a lot better. The turmoil and anxiety that we went through could have been reduced. I guess you would have to say that definitely we were in "war."
There just wasn’t enough time or enough transport to load up everything that the captain had left behind. We got as much as we could, but we were forced to leave behind a 105 howitzer and a half track, as well as a stack of C rations and some ammo trailers filled with ammunition. I heard later that the Australians got the C rations, and the retreating firing batteries used up the ammo that was left behind. They then hooked on the trailers and brought them down to us. We lost the howitzer when it slipped off the road’s edge and onto a rocky ledge. A retrieval crew tried to get it back on the road, but they couldn’t get it free. As time was running out and danger from the enemy was getting closer, we had to leave it behind.
May 15, 1956
To Whom It May Concern:
On or about April 23rd 1951 the 213th Arm’d FA Bn moved from Kapyong, Korea to the vicinity of Hwachon Reservoir to support the Marines in an attack. The following afternoon the unit made a forced march from Hwachon to the Kapyong Valley to help stop a breakthrough in this area. We arrived at Kapyong at dusk. Service Battery, of which SFC Conrad R. Grimshaw was a member, and a detachment of Headquarters Battery were left at this place while the rest of the battalion moved forward.
Around midnight, Captain James, Commanding Officer of Service Battery, alerted me and ordered me to take a message forward to the Commanding Officer of the battalion. This message was to the effect that the Chinese had broken through in a circling movement and that the entire battalion was in danger of being cut off. Sergeant Grimshaw was told to go along to drive and otherwise assist me. We used a ¾ ton truck and moved forward in an attempt to reach the 213th F.A. Bn. We did not know their position or condition but only that they were forward.
It was necessary slowly and at times necessary to beat refugee Koreans from in front of the truck. We drove about two miles and ran into a wire-laying detail who informed us that the battalion was moving, but they did not know the present location. We next found a unit of the 2nd Rocket battalion, and they informed us that the 213th had gone forward but had not returned. We proceeded forward through the forward lines of the British Empire. They advised us not to go farther, but we decided to go on. After about one-half hour, we heard a unit going into position and this was found to be the 213th. The message was delivered and we were told to return to Service Battery and advise the CO to move to the rear if he deemed it necessary.
On the return trip, I rode in the rear to beat the Koreans, both refugee and running troops, from their attempts to board the truck and it was necessary for Sergeant Grimshaw to both drive and keep the crazed people from taking control of the car.
Sergeant Grimshaw was cool and collected at all times. He showed great courage in the face of danger. He did not once question an order. His courage and resourcefulness was a great factor in the successful conclusion of a hazardous mission.
Ephraim L. Puffer
From the time we left to find Headquarters until the time we got back took about two hours. When we arrived back to the Service Battery area, everything was in a real state of confusion. Captain James had already bugged out, taking the ammo section’s trucks with the 50 caliber anti-air mounts on them, but not hooking on any of our supply trailers. Instead, men and supplies were left behind to face the danger of the fast-approaching Chinese enemy without the Commanding Officer. Warrant Officer Roy Puffer took charge of the situation, and within a short time he had the remaining men load what they could on the remaining vehicles. To try to move during the night was never the best idea in a combat area, but we knew that we didn’t have any choice. A rule of war is that you don’t leave any equipment or supplies behind that might be useful to the enemy. Roy made sure every truck was loaded before it left. The ammo section trucks were loaded with 105 artillery rounds in the front of the truck beds. The rest of the room was used for whatever else had to be hauled. The cook and motor sections were ready first and moved on down the road.
When the last trucks left the service Battery area, we entered the main road. I don’t think that I will ever see a sight like this again. I imagine that it was 2 o’clock in the morning, and there were vehicles bumper to bumper as far as you could see, all trying to get out. The big caterpillars of the engineers were put in high gear with the throttle wide open. Some of the bogie idlers were red hot. The big caterpillars were too heavy for the bridges and they could only run one at a time, which they just couldn’t take that time then. If a vehicle quit or ran out of fuel, they just pushed it off to the side and left it.
Hundreds of trucks and engineers’ equipment were trying to get out and heading for the nearest bridge which would take them to safety on the south side of the Han River. Having traveled the road many times, our drivers knew that the bridge at Punwan-ni was the closest. There, MPs were controlling traffic and doing the best they could to keep units going in the same direction. For some reason unknown to the men he left behind, instead of going south at the pontoon bridge at Punwan-ni, Captain James kept going west on the road to Seoul, which was near the front lines of the war. I think that it is possible that James was behind a group of engineers moving caterpillars. Since the caterpillars were too heavy to cross the Punwan-ni bridge, MPs waved them on toward Seoul. Perhaps Captain James just kept following the engineers. At any rate, those of us caught up in the later part of the bug-out were told by the MPs that Captain James and part of Service Battery had decided to head north on the road to Seoul. They told us that we should go in the same direction to catch up with the rest of our unit.
The Punwan-ni bridge could easily carry the weight of Service Battery’s vehicles, so those of us who remained behind could not understand why our captain had chosen to take the longer, more dangerous route to Seoul. We knew that just over the hills to the north, the CCF were on the offensive and preparing to attack—which they did on the early morning of the 26th. The Chinese always seemed to want to go to war when it rained. The weather was a little bad and the front line was adjusting. The road back up the Han River got a little dangerous with the CCF trying to drop mortar shells on the road. All supply and ammo trucks that went to the firing batteries on the 24th and 25th were routed south I believe in the morning of the 25th.
Our firing batteries needed ammunition and supplies, but Captain James’ route had taken us to an area far removed from the area in which our firing batteries were still trying to pull out. If we had crossed the Han River at the pontoon bridge like we should have done, we would have been in good position to supply them. Instead, we were split up some for four days before they could find us down by Suwan below Inchon. At one time, Service Battery was about 100 miles away from the firing batteries.
Some of the first sections of Service Battery to leave eventually pulled off the road and waited for us. Captain James was ahead of us, stopped east on the road that crossed the Han River. It was along here that a Corsair Navy pilot dropped his spare unused bombs in the Han River on his way back to Kimpo Air Field, which was just over the ridge. Airport officials were afraid for the pilots to land their planes with fused and ready bombs, so the pilot decided to drop them in the river. The bombs hit pretty close to us, and I guess the pilot just didn’t realize how "edgy" our guys were. They fired a .50 machine gun at him, and it’s my understanding that they did hit him, causing some damage to his plane. The pilot just wiggled his wings and flew away, but I’ll bet he had some weird stories to tell about how some scared Army outfit shot holes in his airplane.
We stopped at the railroad bridge on the 24th, but at the captain’s orders, we didn’t cross the river until the next day and night. We were exposed to the CCF for days, and that could have had serious consequences for us. The 1st Cavalry unit that we had stopped next to for safety in numbers pulled out and crossed to the south side of the river. We sat there alone, just below Uijonbu, where the CCF troops were massing to push to the Han River. We had been going for two days and nights, so we tried to get a little sleep. We didn’t have a tent, so we pulled a tarp close to one of the trucks and crawled under it. On the 25th, we loaded all the ammo on four trucks and returned them to the firing batteries, along with two loaded supply trucks. It would be four or five days before we could find these trucks again, because they were returned south at the pontoon and down around Ichon and back.
Service Battery finally moved across the Han River early on the 25th. Two of the other men and I were left on the north side of the Han with a jeep (driven by Clyde Evans) belonging to the section, as well as a half track from Headquarters. Our orders were to direct any traffic from our battery that might come down the road from Kapyong and accidentally get trapped there. Earlier, in an attempt to slow the Chinese down, allied troops had put up a road barricade made of trench wire and land mines. Vehicles could only get through the barricades at certain openings. It was our job to help them get through.
We were to stay there until 10 p.m. that night, but about 9:30 p.m., civilians started to pour out of the hills, with the Chinese about two blocks right behind them signaling with lanterns. Needless to say, this was a very trying moment for us. I had the half-track driver start his engine, and I didn’t have to tell Clyde twice to start ours in the jeep. All traffic had stopped three hours earlier. We found out later that the reason why was because the road had been cut off. I fired a tracer bullet into the fuel barrels to destroy them so the enemy couldn’t use them against us, and then we left. We felt that we had to leave when we did or we would have been guests of the CCF. By now, the Han River was considered to be the front line clear from Chunchon to Seoul.
After we crossed the Han, we went south where we found Service Battery down around Suwon. As we crossed the bridge and entered the main road going west, every kind of truck and engineering equipment could be seen headed down the road too. They were coming from Chunchon and all places east because this was the only way out along the Han River until they reached the pontoon bridge eight miles down the road. They claimed that they were out of food and ammunition for three days, but I have found out things now a little different. The officers should have had supplies of "C" rations in all their guns and trucks. As I said before, we could sure have used two hours notice to everyone’s advantage. No cook section could be expected to set up and cook hot meals with the bullets flying. Besides, my ammo section always had to eat cold "C" rations while they were on the road. Hot meals just aren’t always available when you’re fighting a war.
At this point in time, we must have had some kind of communication with headquarters. We sent mechanics up to fix a track on the tank retriever, and some of our ammo trucks were moving back up. We had two spotter planes and they always had communications, so we may have received information from them. The firing batteries kept pulling back, firing as they retreated. "A" Battery took up a position down where we had been located, found our ammo trailers, and used the ammo on them. All the supply points were forced to move south. The unit histories stated that our artillery fired over four thousand rounds in those two days. At 144 rounds per truck load, that’s a lot of truck loads.
I don’t remember much about going south to find our outfit down around Suwon. Within a day or two, we were all
together again. The ammo trucks that had crossed the pontoon bridge (the one we should have crossed), finally
found us. We regrouped and began to function again. We had covered a lot of miles and everyone kind of welcomed a
We moved every few days as the war changed. The big push was slowed down and we worked east, making a big circle to the valley south of where our firing batteries came out. They came across the pontoon bridge on the 26th, covering the engineers as they dismantled it. We now began to see what we had saved and what we did not. I don’t know how we wound up with the battalion’s D4 caterpillar. It took about four or five days after the firing batteries had crossed the Han River for us to locate the much-needed empty trucks that they sent south.
You could get very confused with all the "chon" Korean cities south of Seoul as we moved back into a supporting position for the firing batteries. First there was Inchon, then Itchon, and then Ichon, which was just east of Suwon. We moved quite rapidly in a big half circle around these cities. A strong perimeter line was established clear across Korea near Suwon. Always referred to as the "Suwon Line," all CCF pushes or drives would be stopped here if they got that far. We never did set up very long in one place because, as the big CCF spring offensive drive was stopped, back up the valley we went. We were at the Ichon position on 8 May 1951.
I want to tell you a little about our ammunition before I go on with my story. This caliber of artillery ammunition was used a lot in World War II and the Korean War. It was used in close quarters and had a maximum range of eight miles. It was called semi-fixed because it was packed shell casing, projectile, powder, and fuse all together in a fiber tube. It was packed two rounds to the box, weighing around 85 pounds. The fiber tubes had caps on both ends sealed with colored tape designating the type of projectile and fuse inside. The fuse was always on the projectile. All that was needed to get it ready to fire was to cut the powder bags to the right charge, set the fuse, and push the projectile down into the brass case just like you would reload a rifle shell. The ordnance numbers on the boxes were "RIQSA," showing a fuse M44 or M54 for time setting and M51 for point detonating. These had a wide range of settings and were the most popular ones used. A new VT shell and fuse were used at the last of World War II. A radio system automatically exploded it when it came close to something after it was out of the barrel. It had to be fired to be activated. The projectile and fuse had to be acquired separately. These rounds were hard to find all the time because everyone wanted to use them. A complete round was about 28 inches long when assembled and just a fraction over 4 inches in diameter. They could be put together and fired very rapidly. They were very accurate in the short-barreled howitzers.
With the amount of ammunition being used and the number of rounds fired through the guns, the supply of 105mm ammo came to an end. Units were then changed over to the 155mm round, which is still popular today. In October of 1951, the 213th AFBN turned in the M7 self-propelled 105mm howitzers and received 155mm trail models pulled by tractors. This was a bigger projectile and was supplied with all separate component parts. It required a detonator, powder, fuse, and projectile to make a complete round. Because of all the parts, it has a wider range of applications and can be used in long range guns to howitzers, using different fuses and powder charges. The 155 usually fired at a slower rate with ranges up to 18 miles. These were used until 1 May 1953, then 240mm howitzers were added. After that, they fired both 155mm and 240mm guns. It has been said that there was more artillery fired in Korea than there was in Europe during World War II.
We had twelve short, wheel-based trucks to haul our artillery ammunition. The trucks were 2 ½ ton GMC six cylinder 6x6’s. We broke a lot of front springs on the rough roads. We overloaded them at first, but then decided that we could only haul around 3 ½ ton on them. The ammo trailers were too much for them to pull. They were solid axle and too rough anyway. We used the truck tarps and covered the bed back to the first bow. A rear curtain covered the back. A platform was made about three feet above the truck bed to haul cots and duffel bags of the section’s when we had to move. This kept everything dry and out of the dust. We stacked ammo under the platform to gain more load space. Sometimes the battery would be on the move while the ammo section was on a haul, and the section would have to take their gear with them.
A round trip from the ammo dumps to Service Battery usually took about eight hours. The shortest was six hours and the longest was around 18 going back 70 miles to find what we had to have. The longest haul we made was from Itchon to the firing batteries above Chunchon. It was about 90 miles. Usually eight trucks would go to the ammo dumps and four would haul from Service Battery to the firing batteries. The ammo section broke down the wooden packing boxes in between. The most we ever hauled in one trip was 1,726 rounds with twelve truck. The most that eight trucks hauled was about 1,112 rounds. When the firing batteries used from 1,000 to 15,000 rounds a day, you can see why we were busy.
We used to bring some ammo runs through the ChongPhong Valley, but the roads were too narrow and it was faster to go back around Suwon, Seoul, and then back to Kapyong. This was quicker than going through the fifty or so small villages up this valley. I was always afraid that our trucks would run over some old man or hit one of the little kids who came out to beg for candy bars.
We were back to long hours again as the artillery fired thousands of rounds at the Chinese. We saw hundreds of dead Chinese soldiers laying on the hillsides. They were caught by the artillery units and the infantry tanks ,and not many could get away. The engineers brought a caterpillar and dig a long trench. Civilian laborers threw the bodies of the dead Chinese into dump trucks and hauled them to the trenches, where they were buried by the hundreds. Overhead, airplanes continued to fire at the Chinese enemy. On the ground, we were able to haul more ammunition than the firing batteries could use, so we had ammo scattered for miles as the batteries moved ahead. We tried to keep the ammo picked up, but I’m sure we left hundreds of rounds behind. The ammo point at Itchon was very close to us now, so we could haul a lot of ammo each day without the wear on our trucks that we had during and following the bug-out. The killing of the Chinese was just like an old-fashioned rabbit hunt back home. Now it was their turn to be the rabbit. Our turn was over. We used to see the Air Force fire at them at about dark and see the tracers fly all over. On the ground, you could see the tank tracks where they fired and moved, leaving a pile of machine gun brass two feet high in places.
We were now moving real fast. It seemed like we had "fox holes" dug every day as we were in new positions. One night when it was the cook section’s turn for guard duty, an old farmer’s cow walked into our trip flares. Someone cut loose with a .30 caliber machine gun. I don’t believe they shot the cow, but we found out that those old guns sure could wake you up in the middle of the night.
We usually received mail twice or three times a week, but with all the moving around, the mail going and coming was often interrupted for days. When we went ten days without letters from home, the war had to stop a little while when it finally did arrive. We took our letters and hide away by ourselves to kind of connect with home for a few minutes. We arranged our mail by post dates because we discovered that if we read the last one first, it kind of spoiled things. My Dad told me about the mail arriving on the other end. He said that getting mail from the boys in Korea was also very important to those back in Beaver. When they didn’t receive any for days, to them this meant that we were on the run again. Everyone gathered at the post office waiting for news from their boys so they could tell where we were in Korea. The first one to get a letter at Beaver would read it to everyone else. On both ends there were constant reminders to write at least once a week. To not receive a letter (either in Korea or in Beaver) was about the worst thing that could happen.
During the regrouping that took place after the Kapyong Bug-out and before Service Battery was ordered to participate in "Task Force Spoiler," there was a "mutiny" in the battery. Once all of our sections had reunited after the bug-out, Captain James began to blame the non-coms for all that was left or lost (a 105 howitzer, half track, large supply of C-rations, three ammo trailers and the ammo on them) in the bug out. (Later I found out that our retriever crew had picked up the shower tent, so we didn’t lose that one.) He said that we were going to have to pay for what was lost. Given the fact that the captain had taken two of our trucks with the 50 caliber machine guns during the bug-out, leaving us with no means to pull the ammo trailers to safety, we non-coms did not think this was fair. We had a non-coms meeting and decided that we were going to have to act on our complaints about the captain. We knew that someone(s) would have to take the blame for the big fiasco that had taken place, and we didn’t want it to be us. We had just experienced some of the most difficult days of our tour of duty in Korea, in extreme harm’s way, and we were not in the mood to take his old nonsense again.
I always checked with an officer at corps headquarters to find the closest ammo dumps. I asked him for advice about what to do about our complaints about the captain and he suggested that I talk to the "I.G.", which I did. Within two days, a captain from I.G. came down to interview the non-coms. A few days later, there was a court martial hearing. Our complaints about the captain centered around the circumstances of the bug-out, the battery being detained on the north side of the Han River at the railroad bridge, and our disapproval of the way he managed Service Battery. Even with a war going on around us, the non-coms were required to put on their class A uniforms for the proceedings. These uniforms looked like "sacks" because they had been in the bottom of our duffel bags for four months, but it was a change from our regular work uniforms. We were quizzed one at a time about what happened.
The captain was defended by Major Fenton, who was a lawyer. Our allegations against Captain James were serious ones that, if proven, could result in his dishonorable discharge. Fenton’s defense of the captain was that the young non-coms were not seasoned, combat-trained officers. Everyone who has ever been in the Army knows that Brass sticks with Brass. That is just a fact of military life. The ultimate result of the court-martial hearing was that Captain James was completely cleared of all charges. He remained with the battery and, although there was to be no punishment to those making charges against him, nevertheless, three of the non-coms who had spoken out against him were moved out of the unit. First Sergeant Eslin Beeson was sent to "C" battery. Lavar Hollingshead, who was in the motor section, was assigned to dig gun emplacements and bury dead Chinese with the battalion’s D-4 caterpillar. I was sent down to a truck company with six of our trucks to move an ammo supply point forward. Of the three most vocal non-coms at the court-martial hearing, I am the only one still alive. More than 50 years has passed and it is time to forgive. However, time has not erased the circumstances of the Kapyong Bug-out from the memories of so much as one of the men in Service Battery who had to endure the nightmare of it.
Before going on to tell about Task Force Spoiler, I want to explain how the Battalion Ammo Train operated and the way the personnel was arranged. The battalion S4, Captain Johnson, was part of the fire direction center. He kept track of the ammunition fired at the battery level and requested ammo when and where it was needed. Lieutenant Swee was Service Battery ammo officer. He brought those needs to me, and we then arranged to have ammo hauled from the supply points where we could find it. Usually Corps Headquarters kept up on the supply points, and our trucks then proceeded to restock the basic load as required by headquarters. There were three ammo sections with a sergeant in charge. They each had four trucks, a driver, and an assistant driver who was also an ammo handler. Because of my sergeant first class rating, I was in charge of my section. We had an ammo clerk and jeep driver in my section.
This made around 30 or more people per section. The trucks hauled around 144 rounds over the bad roads. Trailers were not used very often. We tried to keep a thousand rounds at the Service Battery location so we could restock quickly. It also gave us a little buffer to draw on so we could keep our trucks off the roads as much as possible during the night. I really believe this is one reason we never got hit like some of the other units’ ammo people.
I mentioned before that we were at Ichon, which was at the bottom of the Chong Phong Valley, on May 8th. We were moving north again behind our firing batteries. We moved about halfway up toward the Han River where the pontoon bridge was located. A special task force was planned, and Service Battery was to be a part of it. It was called, "Task Force Spoiler." Our part in the task force was hauling ammo and fuel with two of the firing batteries and the 187th Airborne Combat Team. We were all to go back across the Han River (ford it) at Punwan-ni, go back to our old gun positions in the Kapyong Valley, destroy an enemy supply point, and then return to the Han River.
We started at 0100 hours to be ready to ford the river at 0400 hours. It had been raining for days and the river was at a high level. Finally, the wires of the barricade were cut open, the land mines removed, and we began to cross. The water ran through the floor of the trucks, the tanks had water in them, and some had to be hooked onto and towed out. We all assembled on the north side of the river. That’s when we started to have a very funny feeling in our guts, because this didn’t look very good. Because of the weather, the Air Force couldn’t fly support or drop supplies if they were needed. Kapyong was about eight miles back in enemy lines. With ammunition loaded in the front of the trucks and three fuel barrels on the rear, as well as no air support, we were just like sitting ducks.
General Hoge from IX Corps radioed the cancellation of this operation because of the bad weather. We all pulled back across the river, replaced the wire barricade and the land mines, and were ordered to return to our old positions. I’m sure that Colonel Dalley shed a few tears over this operation knowing that some of the Utah boys would probably not come back alive. This was on May 14 and we would soon be moving ahead again.
The infantry had secured the perimeter of the Kapyong valley around the old gun positions of the 213th. A tank company was also in the valley to support the infantry. Our firing batteries then moved back up the canyon where they had been pushed out by the CCF spring offensive on 22 April. On the 26th and 27th of May, there were about 4,000 Chinese trapped just east of the old positions. They tried to break out during the night, but ran right into Headquarters and A Battery positions. Our troops killed over a hundred Chinese, and took over 800 prisoners. They received a Presidential Unit Citation for this operation. Tanks from the infantry came in to help clear out all of the CCF.
While everyone was patting themselves for their heroic deeds, no one ever mentions Service Battery delivering supplies and ammo in the middle of this. Service Battery was still across the Han River, but we had ammo trucks in there. When we couldn’t get up the road because one of the infantry tanks had a track off, we had to walk in with supplies. I took many pictures of the Chinese prisoners there. We are not mentioned in the unit histories, but the Stars and Stripes news reporters were in there, and they mentioned that Service Battery truck drivers were taken prisoners in this attack.
On the 29th, the firing batteries were moved out of the Kapyong area, and we joined them going on to Chunchon. We stayed down in the valley and the firing batteries moved up west of the Hwachon Reservoir. We stayed in this area for a long time. All supply points were moved to Chunchon, first by truck companies, and then by railroad. The long ammo and supply hauls were now over for a while, and things got easier for the men and also for the old trucks. I left for home from this position.
Sometime after the April bug-out at Kapyong, my cousin Bob Osborn and I were told to report to Colonel Dalley’s quarters. As he sat us down in his tent, he told us there were openings for two new officer’s positions. He offered us a battlefield commission if we would take them. He explained that we would have to attend officer’s training school when we left Korea and that we would probably have to remain in service for another three years. Bob readily accepted the offer, but I had some serious thoughts as to my future. I had been away to college for two years and the past year in the service. Also, my father had a heart attack back in September. My mother was working full time to keep the family going to support my younger brother and sister, and I felt that I was needed back home. I was now expecting a family of my own. My wife was living with her parents. Three more years in the service was not exactly what I wanted to do, and I really didn’t want to make the Army a career. I thanked Colonel Dalley for the consideration of this new commission and for the trust that he had in me, but I declined the commission. He felt that I was making the right decision to go home to my family. He also told me that I was being rotated home very soon, and my orders were now in process. Bob Osborn stayed in and made the service his career.
Just days before I got my orders to go home, Lieutenant Swee said we needed to send six trucks down to a truck company to help move an ammo dump forward. He said that I was to go and stay there for a week, and he would bring down my mail. He told me that the captain was after me (because of my part in the failed court martial), and suggested that I stay out of his sight since I would soon get my orders to go home. Earlier, around the first of April, a new directive had come down from Army headquarters, stating that, "All National Guard and Reservists who had enlistments up after the one year’s extension are to be discharged and returned home."
My three-year enlistment was up on the 15th of July 1950, just before the unit was alerted on the 3rd of August that it was being activated. Others of the same time had to reenlist. For some reason, I did not. Instead, I was placed on the year additional service thing instead of three years like the others. I think W.O. Puffer pulled some strings because he knew that I was getting married and that I didn’t want to spend more time in the service. At any rate, Lieutenant Swee brought my orders for stateside when he brought the mail. I was the first national guardsman from Southern Utah to go home, otherwise I would have been one of the last (around February 1952).
Going home was not an easy thing, and I really hated to leave the guys. It took a whole month to process and go home. There were 14 of the 213th going home at this time. All were ER’s except me, and I was NG. Eddie Ware, Lawrence Weaver, and Arthur P. Teitzel were the others from Service Battery who had orders for stateside. They had a party for us, and I remember the big chocolate cake they made for the whole bunch. I don’t know where they got the stuff for it, but they did a realyl good job. We always had good cooks and good food.
Although I don’t remember how we got there, we were sent down to Inchon to wait for a ship to take us to Sasebo, Japan. There, we were given processing numbers and we left for the states at different times. I never saw the other 213th people again. I do remember seeing an old B-29 on the runway at the bottom of Kimpo Airfield. Months before, we had watched that same B-29 crash land one day when we were hauling ammo from below Inchon. It came in real low smoking, and slid the full length of the runway. They were throwing the machine gun ammo out as we came by and they had more on the plane than we were hauling with eight trucks.
We stayed in Inchon one night, and while we were watching a movie, the air raid siren went off and we had to disperse out in the rice paddies. A small, lone North Korean plane flew over, trying to hit a fuel tank with some small bombs. It looked like 20 guns were firing at it from the base and the ships in the harbor. The little plane was not hit, and everyone cheered as the little plane flew away untouched.
A short time later, we boarded a small ship that took us to Sasebo, Japan, and on June 28th we sailed on the President Jackson for San Francisco, arriving there July 10, 1951. The President Jackson was a converted liner with plenty of room—quite a change from the ship that took us from the states to Korea. We docked in San Francisco at the same pier that we had embarked from when we were on the troop ship General Meigs six months earlier, on our way to Korea. As the ship came alongside the pier, families of the returning servicemen were there to meet them. I didn’t know anyone, and I was indeed homesick.
They loaded us on a ferryboat, and took us up the Sacramento River to Camp Stoneman. We were there for five days, processing again for the third time, and then we were given our travel funds to get home. I had to get to Beaver by way of Los Angeles. I had a three-hour layover, so I contacted my old favorite aunt and we had breakfast together. She had come up to Beaver for our wedding just eleven months ago.
It seemed like a very long ride (forever!) to Beaver from Los Angeles. The bus arrived about 1 o’clock a.m., and my whole family was there to meet me at the bus stop. My wife Joann, was in the same condition that I left her in January, except that now she looked very much like a "new mother to be."
Reflecting back over those 13 months, I realized that a lot of things had happened in a short span of time. Starting June 1950, I graduated from the BAC, went to guard camp, worked for a month, and then was activated in the Korean War. I also got married, made my first home at Ft. Lewis, went to Korea for five months, and then came home. I had covered lots of ground: three trips from Beaver to Ft. Lewis; one trip from San Francisco to Beaver; two trips across the Pacific Ocean; seven days in Japan; seven days in California; a trip from Seattle to San Francisco by ship; and five weeks on the troop ships. I returned to work and a few weeks later, my first little dark-eyed baby girl was born. All this had taken place by the time I was just two weeks into my 22nd birthday.
In the months that followed, more of the 213th men came home--most of them by Christmas.
They came home by either enlistment time, points, or because the 21 months that we were inducted for had expired. All of these young men returned home and became good citizens. The former members of Service Battery became county officials, a doctor, mayors, barbers, city councilmen, firemen, telephone technicians, businessmen, bankers, law officers, construction workers, and cooks. Some stayed in the military and helped to form the new 222 Armored Field National Guard unit that is here today and that carries the same unit number as the old historical organization from years past. Only one or two had a little "bump" along life’s way.
Old Father Time was not good to some of them. In 1950, 48 men from our reserve unit in Beaver went to Korea. As of September 2000, 18 of the old original Service Battery had passed away. As of March 2003, there were only 23 of us left. Two of us have been the American Legion Post 32 Honor Guard for over 48 years, taking care of the military rites of veterans who are buried in the local cemetery, as well as participating in the Memorial Day services each year. Each funeral gets harder to attend. As I walk through Beaver Cemetery, I get a lump in my throat as I walk by the graves of the men from my old outfit.
The job that Service Battery had to do was not very glamorous. It was very hard work when you got into combat. You were more like a "servant’s" battery. You had to repair and keep everything running, haul all the supplies, and furnish artillery ammunition by the tons at all hours in all kinds of weather. You were not thanked very often for what you had to do, and if you couldn’t keep up the schedule because of reasons beyond your control, you would not be very popular. Such was the case when we all had to pull back during the "Kapyong" bug out. We had to move quickly and to a place that was not secure. We were able to re-supply within a reasonable time, but the officers of the firing batteries and headquarters should have made arrangements for "C" rations for their units just in case we couldn’t get supplies to them for a few days. Service Battery couldn’t set up cook sections either when they were on the run. With all the fire missions that they were handling, we were not able to supply what they could fire. We always heard the complaints, but seldom heard compliments for a job well done.
In the five weeks from April 22 to May 29, 1951, more artillery rounds were fired in Korea than any time after that while the original 213th was there (until November 1951). We also had to haul ammo further because the railroad didn’t get to Chunchon until the middle of June when the ammo dumps and supply were moved forward. Service Battery located just north of Chunchon and the firing batteries were around the Hwachon Reservoir for a long time.
IX CORPS ARTILLERY
APO 264, U.S. ARMY
GENERAL ORDERS 8 JUNE 1951
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE OF 213TH ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
During the hours of darkness on 27 May 1951, north of Kapyong, Korea, large numbers of well-armed Chinese suddenly opened fire at close range on Battery A of the 213th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. The artillerymen rallied to the attack, fighting off the enemy with small arms in their gun positions, killing 100 and wounding 200 others. The surging attack swept to within twenty feet of the battalion switchboard.
At first light, half the men of Battery "A" and a complement from Headquarters organized a combat patrol. Using one of their self-propelled guns as a tank, they drove three-quarters of a mile down the canyon in which their position was located, raking the surrounding heights with machine gun and small arms fire. During this action they overran machine guns concealed less than forty yards from Battery "A"’s position.
The enemy, attempting to escape over the ridge, was halted by artillery fire using timed fuze. The range was then shortened, drawing the fire back toward the gun positions, raking the enemy, and causing an estimated 100 casualties.
This outstanding example of aggressive and courageous action in the face of an unexpected enemy attack was responsible, after eight hours of fighting, for breaking up the attack, inflicting hundreds of casualties, and finally capturing a total of 831 prisoners. It reflects high honor on the officers and men of the 213th Armored Field Artillery Battalion.
BY COMMAND OF BRIGADIER GENERAL GILLMORE:
ROBERT C. ANDERSON, Major, Artillery, Adjutant
- SHIELD: Gules A Fleur-de-lis or, on a canton of the first a castle of the second in front of a palm tree proper within a dovetailed bordure of the fourth.
- CREST: That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Utah National Guard: On a wreath of the colors, or and gules, a beehive beset with seven bees, all proper.
- MOTTO: Pro Deo, Pro Patria (For God, For Country)
The shield is red for artillery and the fleur-de-lis commemorates service in France during World War I. The canton depicts the history of predecessor organizations during the war with Spain and the Philippine insurrection.
Artillery pieces deployed and fired by the 213th in Korea, making the unit one of the most distinctive artillery units in the Korean theater of operations: 105mm self propelled howitzer, 155mm towed howitzer, and 240mm howitzer.
213th FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION
(Korean War 1950-54)
REPRINTED FROM THE RICHFIELD REAPER
After the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the 213th was alerted for active duty and was inducted into federal service on August 19, 1950. An advance party left for Fort Lewis, Washington, the new station of the Battalion, on August 24, 1950. Upon arrival at Fort Lewis, the Battalion began an intensive training program in preparation for the combat service that was to come.
The Battalion was moved to Far East Command in January 1951, arriving in Yokohama, Japan, aboard the US MTS General MC Meigs after a 14-day voyage from Seattle. The Battalion departed the following day for Korea still aboard the MC Meigs, arriving in Pusan, Korea, February 15, 1951. For the next two months, the Battalion underwent further training, reorganization, and testing as a 105mm Self Propelled Battalion.
At 1833 hours, April 22, 1951, Baker Battery fired the first of 240,496 rounds that were to be fired by the 213th during the Korean Conflict.
In October 1951, the 213th was converted from a 105mm Self-Propelled Battalion to a Towed 155mm Battalion. From December 1951, until the middle of March 1952, the 213th remained in tactical position supporting the area formerly identified as the Eastern Perimeter of the ‘Old Iron Triangle" extending from Kumwha to Kumsong. For their impressive performance in the successful attack out of perimeter, Headquarters Battery and A Battery were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation. The awards were presented on January 25, 1952, by Major General Wyman, Commanding General of IX Corps. The citation for this action reads as follows:
HEADQUARTERS AND HEADQUARTERS BATTERY (less Personnel Section), and BATTERY A, 213th ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION, are cited for outstanding performance of duty and extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy near Sanghong-jong-ni, Korea, on 26 and 27 May 1951. On 26 May, these batteries in conjunction with batteries B and C, were assigned the mission of providing artillery support for the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, which was engaged in an offensive. As the attacking infantry moved forward in an attempt to trap the hostile force, the artillery units were left without protection. During the night, a force of approximately 4,000 enemy soldiers, which had been encircled by the friendly infantry, attempted to break out of its trap and rejoin the main body of the enemy army. The only escape route open to them led directly through the valley occupied by HEADQUARTERS AND HEADQUARTERS BATTERY AND BATTERY A. During the early morning hours of 27 May, the hostile force suddenly opened fire on these two units. All available men from both batteries were immediately deployed in defensive positions. The enemy fought fiercely to break their way through the valley but, despite the necessity of hand-to-hand combat, the artillerymen held their ground, which enabled their comrades to continue firing missions in support of the distant infantry. At dawn the enemy attacks abated and the men of HEADQUARTERS AND HEADQUARTERS BATTERY and BATTERY A organized a combat patrol, using a self-propelled 105mm Howitzer as a tank. Driving down the valley, the friendly patrol engaged the enemy, destroying numerous machine-gun emplacements and inflicting many casualties among the hostile troops. The scattered engagements continued for several hours until the enemy finally withdrew. In the area defended, there were approximately 350 enemy dead and wounded. The retreating enemy force then attempted to climb the surrounding slopes but they were immediately subjected to an intense artillery barrage. This devastating fire caused the hostile troops to turn back and surrender to the artillery units. HEADQUARTERS and HEADQUARTERS BATTERY and BATTERY A, 213th ARMOURED FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION, displayed such unshakable determination and gallantry in accomplishing their mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set them apart and above other units participating in the action. The extraordinary heroism displayed by the members of these units reflects great credit on themselves and upholds the highest traditions of the military service of the United States.
BY COMMAND OF GENERAL VAN FLEET
In October 1952, when the Chinese launched a large scale assault on White Horse Mountain, a critical terrain feature, in the 9th ROK Division area, the 213th provided outstanding observation and a tremendous volume of fire in the face of heavy enemy shelling. The exemplary performance of the 213th in surmounting heavy hostile fire to provide more than 26,000 rounds of 155mm artillery support, greatly contributed to the defeat of five (5) enemy regiments, resulting in over 9,000 enemy casualties.
The 213th spent March, April, and May 1953, training personnel in the techniques and functions of the 240mm Howitzer, and in May the Battalion was converted from the 155mm Howitzer to the heavier 240mm Howitzer.
The Battalion moved back on line in June, 1953, between the ‘Iron Triangle’ cities of Kumwha and Chorwon, and at 1842 hours July 27, 1953, the gun crew of Number One Gun of B Battery rammed and fired the final round of 240,496 rounds fired by the Battalion prior to the cessation of hostilities.
After the signing of the Armistice and until late in 1954, the Battalion was engaged in training programs designed to maintain a constant state of battle readiness.
The 213th Field Artillery Battalion earned battle participation credits for the following campaigns during the Korean operations: First UN Counter Offensive, Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive, UN Summer Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korean Summer and Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter, Korean Summer Fall 1953.
On October 28, 1954, the 213th Field Artillery Battalion was returned to the Utah National Guard.
Words by: Better left unsaid
Music by: Whoever wrote "The Old Chisholm Trail"
Now listen you jiggers and I’ll give you a spiel
About my tour of duty with the 213th Field.
Chorus (sing after each verse):
Come a ti yi yippy (etc.)
I joined the outfit late last fall.
I might have seen worse, but I just can’t recall.
They acted like rookies, did as they pleased.
‘Till the Brass got pissed and shipped them overseas.
We landed in Pusan, where rumors started brewin’.
So they wrote back to Utah, ‘bout the fightin’ they was doin’.
We finally moved up for a chance in the fight.
The Colonel says, "Boys, you better do it right."
We got into Hwachon all intact,
Fired a round or two, and headed right back.
Up in the canyon, north of Kapyong,
The Cap’n says, "Boys, here’s a chance to ring the gong."
But their blood turned to water, their brave turned to fear,
and the Colonel says, "Men, we can’t fight here."
They all huddled up in a tight little group,
Somebody hollered, "Chinks", and they all flew the coop.
Now we’re back in the canyon with "doughfeet" all around,
But the boys from Utah say they are taking all the ground.
Now, I would like to see the letters they’ll be a’writin’ to St. George,
About the blood and the slaughter up in Massacre Gorge.
How they waded thru fire, the blood and the gore,
Stacking up the Chinks and yellin’ for more.
Now when I get home for fear of shame,
I’m not goin’ to tell ‘em my outfit’s name.
There is one thing for sure. I wish they’d make a law,
To keep all the Mormons in Southern Utah.
[KWE Note: Joann and Connie Grimshaw are pictured at right.]
The year was 1950, as I vividly recall.
The bridge to the future was about to fall.
The name Korea, began to appear in the news,
And writers and reporters all had different views.
The world became uneasy as we watched and waited,
The thought of war was something we all hated.
But all of a sudden, North Korea invaded the South part,
Without military help, the South would lose heart.
So, being the great country that we are,
Our men would be sent to a far away war.
The Army inducted the National Guard of Southern Utah small,
The 213th Field Artillery knew they must answer the call.
Some men had families of two or more,
What would they do when he went out the door?
Education and careers would have to be put on hold,
Even some businesses and property would have to be sold.
Then there were sweethearts with plans to marry in the fall,
Should they set up the date, or not marry at all?
Lives would be altered and forever changed,
As hopes, plans, and dreams would have to be re-arranged.
Fort Lewis was just a name, and seemed so far away,
The 29th of August was to be the departure day.
The railroad station in Cedar City under a gray sky,
Was the place they met to say goodbye.
Hundreds were there to see them off that day,
As the railcars carried our soldiers away.
The trip was long, solemn and very sad,
Over 300 hearts were heavy, no reason to be glad.
Old barracks, North Fort, Fort Lewis was their quarters.
They cleaned and scrubbed and waited for orders.
After awhile, wives began arriving one by one,
And hearts were lifted as a new life was begun.
No one knew how much time they had together,
They tried to be positive even in the rainy weather.
Christmas came and some furloughs were allowed,
Some got to go home to their families proud!
Then after the holidays, things started to pop,
Another bombshell of heartache was about to drop.
Orders soon came for overseas duty, and it appeared,
That word sent home was what everyone had feared.
Where were they going, no one knew for sure.
But in a matter of days, they were out the door.
Wives came home and left their dear men,
Goodbyes and separation came sadly once again.
January 23rd, the troops got to Fort Lawton base,
A ship would be there to take them to their place.
By the 26th they were loaded and out in the bay,
More troops put on in San Francisco, and they were on their way.
The old ship was crowded, damp and hot,
5 decks down and 5 bunks high was their spot.
So many sick men, both of sea and of home,
Thinking of wives and families left alone.
On February 13th, a 24 hour stop in Yokohama, Japan,
Gave them a needed rest and an idea of the plan.
Pusan, Korea, February 16th, was their destination,
21 days on the water had been not a lot of recreation.
Where would they go in the big war mess?
What would they have to do was any one’s guess.
But at least, they were together with buddies they knew,
Somehow, with God’s help, they would certainly get thru.
They weren’t sure then, just where they’d be sent,
But definitely into the battle strong they went.
Letters came home telling of cold food, hard beds, a new culture learned,
Of battles, tired soldiers, Korean homes, and Seoul burned.
News of bombs, planes, tanks and blazing guns,
A humble prayer goes up to protect America’s sons.
So many young, scared kids shivering in their beds,
Being kept together by loving officers with cool heads.
Lots of faith and prayers and a true trust in God,
Would save even one casualty in this foreign sod!
Later, some enlistments were up, and men started coming home,
By February 1952, our men left Korea never more to roam.
Now, 50 years later, we remember with great pride,
How the 213th Field Artillery served honorably, and not one man died!
We salute you, brave, loyal, heroic men,
May you live in peace and never in harm’s way go again.
[KWE Note: The following was written in memory of the post-Korea civilian fun enjoyed by some of the members of Connie Grimshaw's National Guard unit and their wives.]
There once was a trailer bunch that would go traveling with a bang,
But they don't go anymore, so
They shall be forever called, "The Over the Hill Gang."
It was such excitement as they got ready to go,
Five trailers packed, set out all in a neat row.
Connie usually took the lead, with his C.B. gear,
Dick, Bill, Ray next with Heber bringing up the rear.
Points south was the destination, free from the cold.
Food, coolers, and money bags packed with all they could hold.
The arrival to the camp site was a special place.
A little commotion followed as each one found their space.
Tables and rugs and lanterns came out very soon.
A fire pit was essential in case there was no moon.
And oh, the food that was presented each and every meal.
Such delicasies devoured would round bellies reveal.
The days were then filled with shopping for all kinds of treasure.
R.V.s and rows of sellers were unique without measure.
The displays we saw of clocks, dishes, and brass.
Things made of iron wood, wire, alabaster, and glass.
The men made for the tool section or the tent for R.V.s,
Or even the gal that gave massages to the shoulders or knees.
A trip to Algadonas was always something to look forward to.
Some blankets, vanilla, pills, and trinkets were always brought thru.
The day usually ended with a filling up at Furrs for sure,
But things change, we noticed last time, that they are not there anymore.
The days went by quickly with some chores to do,
Trips for water, gas, and breakdowns were nothing new.
At night the sounds of generators filled the stillness of the air.
Music around the camp fire, happy, like we didn't have a care.
Sitting in the open air, under the Arizona moon,
With stars so close you could touch them, came to a close too soon.
When the trip was over and wives told where they went,
The husbands just shook their heads and totaled up what was spent.
But now those are just memories, because no more can they do.
Too many aches and pains have appeared as you all well know.
Joann's feet have just plain gave out,
And Sue says she thinks she has the gout.
Her neck hurts and she says it feels bent.
I guess all our get up and go, just got up and went.
Dick's had his heart worked on and a brand new knee,
But walking all day long is not an option he can see.
Emma has a blood clot and Ray hurts in every bone.
They both long to go, but it's just easier to stay home.
Bill feels pretty good, if the ringing would stop in his ears,
And Irene suffers from pscoriasis she's had for many years.
Colleen's hands get so painful and looses their clout,
Heber can't think of all those trailer woes, it stresses him out.
Connie had some surgery and says he can't see or hear,
Joann seems to get dates with "Arthur" more every year.
So you can see, the trips are history and even thou you long to go,
You'll just have to remember the stories by the camp fire glow.
I can hear Quartzite calling about this time of year,
And all the fun we had there, can't help but bring a tear.
But how lucky we are to have had the great times that we had,
Just good fun and good friends, so no need to feel sad.
But sometimes when the night is still and I can smell camp fire smoke,
I seem to hear the laughter as Dick reads from his book of jokes.
I'll always remember the traveling and the songs we sang,
Of great fun, food, friends, and the wonderful, "Over the Hill Gang."
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