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Martin A. Markley
"At our memorial services, I will always say a special prayer for the brave men like Lieutenant Richards who were killed on Outpost Harry, and trust that we will always commemorate those who lost their lives. For me, the hardest thing about Outpost Harry was knowing that so many outstanding soldiers were killed and wounded."
- Martin Markley
The trip from Yokohama, Japan, to Korea was an overnight trip in the USS Bayfield, a troop transport. During the short voyage, I roamed the ship and talked with my roommate, 1st Lieutenant Richard C. Nagel, who was returning for his second tour in Korea. He had been assigned to "C" Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.
We arrived at the port of Inchon, Korea, in the morning and got off the ship immediately. My first impressions of the country were that it was dirty and very barren with just a few buildings. I could tell that I was in a war zone, but that I was also obviously in the rear. We were quartered in tents that had cots. There was also an exchange in the area. By the second morning, I knew that I had been assigned as platoon leader of the 75MM Recoilless Rifle platoon, M Company, 3rd battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, Third Infantry Division.
Armed with an M1 carbine and 45 caliber pistol, I went by truck to a reserve area where the company was doing field training. The only persons in the truck were the driver and me. I had my first glimpses of the natives along the way. I saw some along the rural roadside working in rice paddies. I was apprehensive because I didn't know where we were going in relation to the front lines, what the company was doing, or what my specific assignment would be.
Upon my arrival at the company, I found out that I was to conduct training on the recoilless rifles. I liked the job, but would have preferred to be assigned to the machinegun platoon. On 13 November, I was made company commander of M Company, replacing Captain Rogers (who was seldom in the area), and was told that we would move to the MLR the next day. Although I had not been with the company for more than just a few weeks, I was ready for the assignment. I had been a company commander in Japan. In Korea, I was selected over the Company Recon (Exec) officer who had been a first lieutenant longer than I. He had been with the company for a few months and was a World War II combat veteran. Since the battalion CO selected me, I was sure it was timely. All the platoons had good leaders, and I felt oriented enough and briefed enough about the situation at hand to be an effective leader of men who were already veterans of the war. I had no trouble with the men at all. They were well-trained and knew their jobs. Most had been with the company for a while. The NCOs were outstanding and deserve credit for the men's effectiveness. I don't recall receiving any advice from Captain Rogers when he turned the company over to me, but I did receive encouragement from the battalion commander. The platoon NCOs explained how they were employing the weapons. All was as I had learned in training.
Other officers in the company at the time I arrived were Lieutenant Allen, who was experienced but not a leader, and CWO Howard, who was excellent in obtaining all supplies. I don't recall his first name. Warrant Officers were called Mister rather than Lieutenant or Captain. I only remember calling him Mr. Howard.
After becoming company commander, I went to the MLR, located all the weapons positions, returned, and briefed the platoon leaders. On 14 November, the battalion started moving on foot toward the MLR. The driver assigned to me was Pfc. Westbury, who was later assigned as driver for General VanFleet.
The men of my company accepted me as their leader. I knew the job and, unlike the previous CO, I spent as much time as possible in the same area as the soldiers. I delegated to the platoon leaders as much as possible. They learned that I did not eat until everyone in the company was fed, and that I never asked them to do anything I wouldn't do.
I discovered that the amenities of everyday life were limited in the Korean combat zone. I bathed and shaved with a pan of water heated on a stove in the bunker. As I recall, a Korean soldier took care of laundry, but I only had showers twice while I was there. I received used, replacement clothes those two times. Our company lived in bunkers. One of the bunkers was 10'X6'X7'. Another was 7'X6'X6'. Both were big enough for a heater, commo wire bed, small table, place for clothes, and the occasional rat. The bunkers were sturdy, ventilated, heated, and dry. The foxhole was a much different kind of living space. The foxhole was exposed to the elements and had no furnishings.
While on the front line, the daily meals were all C and K rations, except once in December when bacon and eggs were trucked to us in thermal containers. Being the last to eat, my food was frozen. At battalion, we had food served at a table in a large bunker. In K company, we had C rations at night and a hot meal every morning. K company had a large mess hall bunker right behind the MLR. I never ate the native Korean food, but I remember that the best thing I ever ate while in Korea was steak fillets. The mess sergeant had "ways" to trade. The stateside food that I missed the most was fresh tomatoes and real milk.
Before I went to Korea, I smoked very little and never drank coffee. In Korea, I smoked a lot at night and drank a lot of coffee at night when the company patrols were out. Cigarettes were free with rations. I also received a case ration of scotch each month, which I gave to the platoon leaders to distribute to men after patrols. I also gave some to the mess sergeant to barter for extra food.
Even commanders had the occasional buddy. Mine was Lt. George Richards. We had similar backgrounds. He was the Distinguished Military Graduate from Washington. He was also my age, and we had similar goals. He had a sense of humor and he was a fair, good leader. He was killed helping defend the company command post in June of 1953.
My parents sent mail to me regularly. Once my mother sent a coffee can filled with rum balls. It tasted like she used several bottles. They were a hit among those in the bunker. The men in my company received mail and packages, too. A couple of them received death notices about family or friends. Some received packages that contained food, clothing, and a few things they should not have told me about.
I had no leisure time except the two times in reserve. Also, I eventually went on R&R to Japan in April of 1953. I think I was there for about five days. I met a classmate from Wyoming who was on R&R at the same time. We happened to meet at a railroad station. R&R broke the monotony of Korea, and relieved some of the pressure that went along with being in a combat zone.
There was some light humor when off line--perhaps some occasional minor accidents where no one was hurt and the circumstances were humorous. I remember that in April, I received a postcard from the Cheyenne Selective Service telling me to report to their office. Everyone had a good laugh. Christmas of 1952, we were in reserve and there was a USO show that the men went to see. I think it was a troupe with Marilyn Monroe, but I didn't go. I marked my 25th birthday in Korea, but it was just another typical day. There were serious moments when off the line, too. On occasion a priest came to the company area. Some of my men and I attended his services.
I saw few women while I was in Korea. In passing, I once saw an American woman at a Red Cross truck at regimental headquarters. I didn't see all that many Korean women, either. Since I was mainly on or near the MLR, there were no Korean prostitutes in the area. I did hear that they were around, but probably not by the MLR. I saw some of the native children along the roadside and in the streets of Seoul. All seemed clean and healthy. I had little time away from the regiment. My duties there kept me too busy to do much sightseeing in Korea.
To understand what was happening on the regimental level in Korea, it is important to have an overview of a "regular" infantry regiment, which was different than a "regimental combat team." I served with the 15th Infantry Regiment, so the following example is based on the hierarchy of that regiment.
A regiment is commanded by a colonel. The colonel is assisted by staff officers: S1 administration, S2 intelligence, S3 Plans and Operations, and S4 Supply. Each regiment had a headquarters section, communications section, anti-tank mine platoon, motor pool, intelligence, a reconnaissance platoon, counter-fire platoon, and security platoon.
Within the regiment, there were companies: Medical (headquarters section, litter section, collecting and dental service, mess, transportation and supply section); Heavy Mortar (4.2 section, fire direction center, three platoons of mortars); Tank (headquarters section, M-16 platoon - three quad 50 caliber machineguns mounted on half tracks, four platoons of tanks); and Service (headquarters section, Graves Registration, mail and civil affairs, motor pool, ammunition and supply platoon, supply office and ration breakdown sections, and a maintenance section).
A regiment also had three infantry battalions. The First Battalion had "A", "B", and "C" rifle companies. "D" company was a heavy weapons company. The Second Battalion had "E", "F", and "G" rifle companies. "H" company was a weapons company. The Third Battalion had "I", "K", and "L" rifle companies. "M" was a weapons company. A battalion was commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel who was known as the Commanding Officer or CO. The battalion CO had 1, 2, 3, 4 sections similar to that of the regimental CO. The headquarters section had about 20 enlisted men, a pioneer and ammunition platoon, intelligence section, and communication platoon. Some had an aid station. The rifle companies had a headquarters section, three rifle platoons (with three rifle squads and one machinegun squad, one weapons platoon with 60MM Mortar and 75MM Recoilless Rifle). The Heavy Weapons Company had a Headquarters section, a machinegun platoon, 81MM Mortar platoon, and a 75MM Recoilless Rifle platoon.
Rifle companies did the hand to hand combat, while Weapons companies provided close-in supporting fire. Most often the machinegun squads were attached to rifle companies, as could be the Recoilless Rifle, but seldom. The mortars fired indirect fire from a place farther back. Recoilless Rifles were sometimes used that way. Machineguns could be fired as an indirect weapon also.
When our battalion started moving toward the front line on 14 November, the MLR was located about five miles north of us. The area was defended by a battalion from another regiment. I think it was the 25th. We moved into the positions they were occupying. They left their mortars, machineguns, and recoilless rifles in position for us. We left our weapons for them in the rear area. The area we first occupied included hills, mountains and rice paddies. There was not any vegetation. On the hills, we built deep trenches and bunkers. In the flat land were shallow trenches and bunkers.
When we first went on line, I spent time at the battalion headquarters coordinating our fire support system. I relocated the 75RR where it could be more effective. The CO seldom left his bunker, leaving the operation of the battalion in the hands of his staff. Although I met him when I arrived in Korea, I don't remember seeing him while we were on line. After I took command of M Company, I learned that my predecessor was similar, and had never checked on the machineguns that were on the MLR. Some replacement officers were not ready to lead men in combat. It was not entirely their fault, because they did not receive good training. All those who served with me did well in a short period of time. I am aware of situations in other companies where the platoon leaders could not control their men. Their actions put themselves in positions where their men could not respect them. For example, the machinegun platoon leader who joined M company after I left borrowed money from his men and did not repay. As a result, he gave orders that weren't followed. Things like that caused a breakdown of leadership. In most cases like that, the NCOs took charge. Along this line, I should also point out that many of the enlisted replacements were not adequately trained. Fortunately, since we were in a defensive situation, I had the opportunity to send them to the rear area for a brief training period.
As Weapons company commander, it was my job to work with the battalion CO and his staff, recommending the best use and location of all the heavy weapons. I spent time between the battalion headquarters and the site of the weapons, coordinating everything to ensure that the weapons were used properly and the men were protected and cared for. The company command post was usually near the mortar platoon. I always visited each machinegun crew attached to the rifle companies. I inspected the entire MLR, inspected all the heavy weapons locations, looked for better locations for the weapons, checked communications and battalion supporting fire plans, and saw all the enemy positions. I could see the enemy on their outpost 500 yards away. They were young, and they wore what appeared to be a down-filled jacket, trousers, and a cap.
My training had prepared me for everything that was happening, and although I was new to Korea, I did not have any fear for my personal safety. I did fear for the men and location of some of the weapons. During the coming weeks, fighting on both our part and that of the enemy was with limited objectives and in small units. (That, however, would change in June of 1953 at a place called Outpost Harry.)
The 75MM Recoilless Rifle was fired from a tripod. It was used to provide supporting fire for the infantry companies, normally used as a direct fire weapon. It was a small artillery piece used to fire on fortified positions, bunkers, tanks, trenches, and groups of enemy. The 75 and its ammunition could be transported by Jeep with trailer, and by a crew of four. Although it was classified as a "small" artillery piece, it was nevertheless heavy, and thus limited to where it could be used due to back-blast. It was very visible to the enemy when fired, so whenever possible it was best to employ them with just the front of the barrel exposed over a mound. For protection of the crew, it was best to use the 75 as an indirect weapon.
The 81MM Mortar platoon was normally kept as a unit with all mortars in one position a little to the rear. When possible, mortars were set up behind hills. These weapons provided indirect supporting fire for the infantry companies. Targets were grouped enemy, areas on the reverse side of hills, and bunkers. Mortars were also used for nighttime illumination. They were very effective on those missions. Mortars were transported by Jeep and men. The platoon had a fire control section that determined the elevation and charge necessary for each target. They gave the orders to the crews. Forward Observers from the platoon were assigned to the rifle companies. They, along with the rifle company leaders, located targets and the FO sent that information to the platoon by radio or telephone. The mortars were not moved often unless the rifle companies needed closer support as they moved.
The machinegun platoon had four squads, each with an air-cooled and water-cooled 30 caliber gun. In a stationary, defensive position, the water-cooled was the weapon of choice because it could fire more accurately and for a longer duration without overheating. The squads were normally attached to rifle companies and integrated by the infantry company leaders into the best use by the infantry company.
When M Company arrived at the MLR, the mortar platoon verified all of the designated barrages and concentrations established by the unit they relieved. The Forward Observers were assigned to the rifle companies, and communication systems were established or verified. The recoilless rifle platoon did the same. The machinegun crews manned their guns, verified their fields of fire, targets, and Final Protective Fire.
"Final Protective Fire" was a term used in defensive situations to fire weapons on the most likely avenues of approach. The weapons company commander was the primary person responsible for determining how all of the available weapons could most effectively be used. This could include support from artillery, tanks, and heavy mortar company machineguns from interlocking bands of stationary fire. The mortars fire pre-designation concentrated on areas where direct fire weapons were not effective (like gullies) or where attacking troops might be massed. Recoilless rifles usually had pre-designated areas and fired at targets of opportunity, such as places where vehicles might approach. Final protective fires were called for when close combat was imminent.
After moving on line, 2nd Lieutenants Edward Mueller and Jay Burgess were assigned to me. I assigned Mueller as machinegun platoon leader and Burgess as Recoilless Rifle platoon leader. Burgess retired from the Army as a colonel. Mueller later transferred to the regimental Battle Patrol. A Battle Patrol was a group of volunteers formed at the regimental level. Most wanted to see more action than they were getting during the stalemate. Battle patrols were sent on special missions beyond the range of normal ambush and listening patrols, often with the purpose of capturing a prisoner or getting new intelligence. The regiment did all the planning and all the soldiers were located at regimental headquarters. Mueller died while on Battle Patrol in May of 1953 from wounds received when he stepped on a land mine.
We provided fire support on a daily basis from the first day we arrived on the MLR. In December, we were firing the mortars so fast that the tubes became overheated and the base plates thawed the ground and sunk a few inches. We were able to replace all the tubes with new ones before the next morning. It was amazing how fast the rear troops re-supplied our ammunition when they were told that if we didn't get it right away, they would have the CCF in their front yard.
The battalion moved to a reserve area near the end of December. There, we conducted training and rested for about two weeks. I made a trip to Seoul with Warrant Officer Howard to get supplies and see the city. I saw only a few young men, and almost all buildings had been destroyed. I don't remember seeing any civilian vehicles.
I also spent one day as an umpire with Major Eisenhower. I was given a time, date, and place where I was to meet with him to assist him in evaluating the way in which a Greek company's members conducted themselves on a field exercise. Major Eisenhower stayed close to the company commander to watch his actions, and I was watching how the platoons and individual soldiers executed the orders. The plans and orders seemed appropriate, but some soldiers did not take the exercise seriously. At one point, they took time to dig up a Korean grave because they heard that Koreans were buried in a sitting position. I didn't ask them what they learned. I doubt that Major Eisenhower's report mentioned it.
About a month after I got to Korea, I saw my first dead enemy. He was brought in by men from a rifle company patrol. It had very little effect on me. I was glad that it was not an American soldier. About the same time, I saw my first dead American serviceman. My feelings were much different then. I saw him die in the battalion aid station. It was a very sad thing to watch.
When I first arrived in Korea, the weather was initially mild. It was comfortable fall weather until late November. Then in December, it snowed and temperatures were below zero, just like home in Wyoming. The cold could affect our weapons if we did not care for them. A light application of oil was a big help. We had winter clothing, bunkers, and space heaters, so the main problem in keeping personnel warm was to keep moving when outside. A thaw came after the cold winter, and then it rained in April. To survive the cold, I wore long underwear, winter trousers, parka, mittens, a cap with ear flaps under a helmet, and thermal boots. When summer came, I wore fatigues.
The entire time I was in Korea, we were in the same general area--sometimes on the MLR and sometimes in the rear. The area known as the "Iron Triangle" was north of the 38th parallel about twenty miles from Seoul. It was one of the most critical areas because it blocked the route of the CCF to Seoul. I was in the neighboring area of Chorwan. Once reported to be a city of about 800,000, now there were only the shells of three buildings remaining. A railroad used to run through the valley connecting North and South Korea. In that area, the 65th Infantry had fought a memorable battle in 1952. The hill involved was named Jackson Heights after the company commander, George Jackson. The CCF held the hill all the time I was in Korea. This placed them higher than our troops, so they limited our movement. Outposts Tom, Dick, and Harry were in this area. Happy Valley was a part of the MLR that started close behind OP Dick going east toward Harry. It was about 200 yards across to the next hill mass. It was flat and anyone there was in full view of the CCF on Charlie. Anyone moving in that area was fired on by the CCF. The name "Happy Valley" was facetious. The area was the defensive responsibility of the K company platoons.
Outposts Tom, Dick, and Harry were all in front of the MLR about 400-500 yards. The direction from Tom to Dick and Harry was east. To the west of Tom were the railroad tracks mentioned above. The MLR was the main line of defense, where the major defense of the area took place. Outposts were established in front of the MLR to delay or disrupt the enemy advance. Most outposts, located in an area known as "No Man's Land," were held as long as possible. But in June of 1953, orders would come down that Harry was to be held at all costs.
Prior to our defense of Outpost Harry, during the first week of January 1953, we returned to the same area we had occupied previously. In preparation for moving back on line, all 15th Infantry reconnaissance members replaced the 3ID patch on our shirts with the 25ID patch in order to hide our identity so the CCF and suspected spies/informants who might be in the area would not think that the 25th was being relieved/replaced. (All armies like to know where opposing units are, and armies like to keep the other side guessing.) The vehicles used to take us to the line were temporarily marked as 25ID while we were in reserve. Meanwhile, our counterparts of the 25ID showed us the entire area where we would go, including weapons positions. The 3rd Battalion was loaded on vehicles at night, and the move on line was made at night in blackout conditions. As we unloaded, settled into position, and the 25ID left, the CCF welcomed the 3ID back over their loudspeakers. Obviously, the CCF intelligence was better than our secrecy. The battalion was again in the Iron Triangle area.
On 7 February I was assigned as battalion assistant S2, then assistant S3. I helped plan two raids on the CCF. Planning a raid entailed purpose, objective, routes of movement to and from the objective, time of and length of mission, coordination with other units, fire support, enemy positions, weather, type of troops, and equipment needed. We had aerial support from division with light aircraft L-19 for reconnaissance. (Fighter bombers dropped 500 pound bombs on CCF concentrations to our front.) I flew in one over the CCF Outpost Charlie, and then I accompanied "I" company on the ground when they raided OP Charlie. Another raid (at Chorwan) was aborted when our tanks could not move forward. The objective was to have a flanking attack on Jackson Heights. It was planned for the tanks to use a railroad track bed, but the CCF forced them off with heavy artillery fire. The adjacent rice paddies would not support the weight of the tanks.
The raid on Charlie was not successful because the enemy was too well entrenched and had more troops than we did. We had four wounded in action during that raid. There were casualties at other times, too. Men from my company were wounded and/or killed while on patrol and on the MLR from artillery. Sgt. Bernard Perry was one of the medics for K company who tended to our casualties. I saw him and the other medics administer first aid while under fire. Fighting was almost always at night.
In mid-February, I was sent to Outpost Dick to get a report after a repulsed attack by the CCF. I saw a couple of mutilated Chinese soldiers there. Actually, mutilated isn't a good word. That was my immediate reaction to what I saw. Some of the CCF were nude and partially burned from phosphorous grenades. I think it could have been avoided. The location of the burns were in a place that was not possible except by a soldier after the battle.
It was during this time frame that a call came to battalion from OP Tom that they needed some medical supplies. A large box of supplies was put together, and someone said it would be taken to them that night when dark. I thought it a better idea to take them immediately. I volunteered to take them and was given permission. From the MLR to OP Tom was all open area and under the observation of the CCF. I was alone and on foot, carrying the box of medical supplies. About halfway to Tom, artillery landed in front of me, then behind me, then in front. It was time for them to make final adjustments, so I hastily found a huge boulder and waited behind it until there was a lull, then quickly finished my trip to Tom. This was the time over all other times when I felt I was in the most personal danger in Korea, excluding the events that happened on Outpost Harry a few months later.
When the company commander of K company rotated home in March, I asked for and was given command of the company. I had been on battalion staff from February 7 to March 10, but I enjoyed duty with a company more than being on a staff. I liked working with a unit and seeing first hand the accomplishments. Duty with a unit involved leadership. Duty as staff was more of a planning nature. When I became commander, "K" company had an outstanding Executive Officer in 1st Lt. George Richards. He was killed on Outpost Harry the night of June 10-11 while we were defending the company command post.
After becoming K Company CO, we remained in the same position until the near end of May. I received "Rest and Recuperation" (R&R) and went with our battalion surgeon, Dr. Roberto Fortuno, and 2nd Lieutenant Pavalosky to Tokyo. I went to Camp Fuji and visited my friends in the 34th Infantry Regiment. This must have been sometime in April. I dated the slides that I took as May, but that was after I took them, mailed them to Hawaii for processing, and they were returned to me. Kodak provided all that as a free service, and mailing was free, too. I captioned, dated, and sent the slides to my mother and father so they knew about my activities.
Also in April, I was sent to Johnson AFB in Japan to attend a Joint Air/Ground Coordination course for one week. Infantry officers were paired with Air Force officers, and they shared a room. My roommate was 1st Lieutenant Frank Borman, later a NASA astronaut and first to circumnavigate the moon. The next time I saw him was in California in 1963. The course involved the types of air support and means to get support at the front lines.
During the March, April, and mid-May time period, the regiment was in a defensive position. K company was in the same location all the time I commanded it until relieved by the Greeks. My company conducted patrols almost every night. We also deepened trenches to more than six feet, which was a major project. Engineers assisted by dynamiting boulders. A trench was dug from the MLR out to OP Dick. We used Korean laborers to do that trench at night. Prior to then, movement to the outpost was restricted to the west side of the ridge leading to the outpost. Bunkers were reinforced and rebuilt. Additional barbed wire was put in.
Harassing fire from artillery and the battalion was increased on OP Charlie. The CCF and K company soldiers exchanged small arms fire on a daily basis. Both the CCF and my company had patrols between OP Charlie and the MLR. During this time frame, Assistant Division CG Brigadier General Wilbur Dunkleberg visited K Company on a monthly basis. I had met him in Japan when I commanded L Co., 34th Infantry Regiment, during the field tests. I later saw him when I was at Ft. Ord. His visits to K company were welcome. He went through the chow line with the soldiers. He said that he liked coming to K company because the food was better than at division.
I recall that one night 2nd Lieutenant Brock Lippitt, a K company platoon leader, went with me to check the company listen posts. The listen posts were in front of the MLR, but not as far as OP Dick. We approached the listening posts from the enemy side. We found one guard asleep. For endangering the safety of the company and sleeping on guard duty, he was later tried by a military court at division headquarters.
K Company was relieved by a company from the Greek Expeditionary Forces (GEF). The Greeks were fearless, reckless, and brave. I stayed with them one night when they relieved K company. One of their soldiers was slightly wounded, so they had a celebration for him. There was no food, but I recall that there was a lot of yelling and shouting that night. It seemed like it was a tradition that the first warrior to be wounded in battle was a hero in their eyes. It was part of their culture, I guess.
Relief by the Greek was orderly and without any problems. Other than the Greeks, no troops from other nations served near my company. However, I know that a battalion from Belgium was attached to the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 3ID. Our company had Korean soldiers as part of the unit KATUSA. (I think that was "Korean Army to US Army".) I paid them in Korean money. All were good soldiers and some had been with American units for over two years.
Time on the MLR was not always spent in battle. There was a lot of waiting for things to happen, too. I recall that in April, two sergeants from I company got tired of waiting, and took matters into their own hands. I company was attached to K company to man Outpost Dick. Probably sometime during the March-April time frame, these two sergeants said they just got tired of sitting on the outpost, so on their own, they walked up to Charlie around noon. They were not noticed by the CCF until they reached the CCF trenches. They opened fire, killing several CCF, then returned to Outpost Dick. They were awarded Silver Star medals. Lt Col Shropshire, the battalion CO, was upset about them doing it on their own, but got the awards for them nevertheless.
K and L companies went into Reserve at Camp Piney for about two weeks around May 20. I don't recall the exact date. Time never seemed important then. One day was like the rest. I was CO of Camp Piney while we were there. The company lived in tents and slept on cots. We had three meals each day. All weapons were inspected, repaired, or replaced by the ordnance company if necessary. The men played volleyball and mostly rested. One day, beer rations were provided for everyone. A couple of times the company was trucked to the Wyoming Line, a defensive position between the MLR and Seoul that would be used if the UN had to withdraw. The trenches there were deepened.
I was promoted to Captain at the end of May. I also received the Bronze Star for meritorious service for the period March to June 1953. I was doing my duty and apparently better than some other COs, but the fact that there were not any major battles, giving K company time to improve its defensive position faster and better than the other companies, might have had something to do with it, too. The Regimental CO Col. Russell Akers inspected K company a few days before Harry. He told the men that they were members of the best company in the regiment.
Shortly thereafter, K company went back on the line, defending that part of the regimental sector that included Chorwan Valley, and Outposts Tom, Dick, and Harry. Prior to the 10th, I had not been aware that something big was about to happen, although the activity at Camp Piney getting equipment in shape indicated something unusual was up. On June 5th, K company was alerted to prepare for a move to Outpost Harry. Vehicles arrived later that day and the company went on Harry June 5, assuming responsibility from the 65th Infantry Regiment on 6 June.
Outpost Harry was situated some 425 yards northeast of the friendly MLR which was on a general southeast-northwest line from the Chorwon Valley to the Kumwha Valley. The hill was approximately 1280 feet high and was located about 320 yards south. It was part of a larger hill mass occupied by the enemy, referred to as Star Hill. The outpost commanded a good view of the enemy terrain and his avenues of approach to the MLR position. Since the elevation of the outpost was greater than that of any friendly-held terrain within an area of a mile, the position afforded early warning of enemy approach to the main battle line.
The road approach to the outpost from the MLR ran north along an intermittent stream to the rear of the outpost, where the supply point was located. From there, movements to the position had to be accomplished dismounted.
The position itself contained a communications trench that ran from the supply point forward some 315 yards to the forward observer bunker on the northernmost slope. There, the trench joined another trench, which made a complete circle around the forward position of the outpost. The position of the outpost was referred to as "The Loop." Approximately 80 yards to the rear of The Loop, along a finger of the ridge running to the right side of the outpost, was an additional trench that extended approximately 110 yards. That finger was mutually supporting with The Loop position and helped protect the probable avenues of approach into position. The left side of the outpost was steep enough to afford a natural barrier to the attacking enemy forces.
The initial effort on Harry was to prepare for the anticipated CCF attack. With considerable help from the engineers, the battle positions, bunkers, trenches, and barbed wire placements were improved. Napalm was placed on the hillside. Every soldier acquainted himself with his defensive responsibilities. Artillery and mortar concentrations were verified and adjusted to ensure the best possible final defensive fire. A few replacements had arrived during the days before we moved up to Harry. They did very well for newcomers.
The siege of Outpost Harry actually began when K company got there June 5 about 0500. Nearing the end of the war, the CCF wanted ground. If they could take Harry, they might reach Seoul in a couple of days. The CCF fired at us with artillery, mortars, and rifles whenever we moved. When it was dark, the entire company was on alert. Searchlights were used to illuminate the CCF Star position all night. Listening posts were outside the perimeter of Harry as early warning. Sleeping was done only during daylight and the men shared the daytime alert. There were unsuccessful small CCF squad and platoon size probes every night. This helped the CCF to learn where our weapons were located. There were three K company men killed during this time frame. The men were confident and went about work as usual, but with more caution of incoming fire and minor fire fights at night than in our position on the MLR. I, too, was fine. Being a more confined area than the MLR, I was able to see everything being done all the time. I worked hard with our forward observer, 2nd Lt. Sam Buck, to get the artillery concentrations where I wanted them. He still remembers one that I brought too close.
Aerial reconnaissance from 1 June to 8 June showed much increased enemy activity. This activity included construction of new anti-aircraft artillery positions, self-propelled gun revetments, artillery positions, supply bunkers, personnel bunkers, and a new bridge and road improvements along the enemy main supply routes. An enemy offensive was obvious.
During the same period prior to the attack of 10 June, increased personnel sightings were reported during daylight hours. During the period of darkness, an increasing number of vehicle lights were reported, generally in the rear areas moving south and southwest toward the enemy's main battle positions. Prior to the attack, CCF artillery battalions positioned to fire into the 3rd Infantry sector disclosed the enemy to be employing 102mm rocket for the first time in this area.
Also evident during this period was increased enemy counter battery fire on friendly artillery positions. Incoming artillery and mortar rounds reported in the regimental sector increased from an average of 275 per day to 670 per day, during the four to five days prior to the initial attack on the outpost. During the attacks on Harry, a tremendous volume of rounds fell in all of the regimental sector, including service units and regimental headquarters.
I was called off Harry on June 10 and briefed on the anticipated CCF offensive. I was also told that I had more than enough points to rotate out, and that I did not have to go back up to the outpost. My time in Korea had probably expired in April, but I think that someone forgot to include the twelve points I earned by being in Japan before Korea. In my way of thinking, K company was still my company. I could not run out when the biggest challenge came. I don't believe a company CO should ever leave under those conditions.
Once I got back up on Harry, I informed everyone that a major attack was anticipated. No one had a hard time, although they might have if we had known how "major" this major attack was going to be. There was no time to formally prepare the troops spiritually for the possibility of their death in the battle that was about to take place. They could only prepare themselves personally.
As to readying ourselves militarily for a big battle, we had prepared from the time we went on the outpost June 5. We were better prepared with each passing day. Additionally, on the day of the attack, 500 pound bombs were dropped on CCF concentrations to further help us contend with approaching enemy forces. Our planes also dropped flares so we could watch enemy movement.
Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, we checked weapons, ammo, and communications. We had the standard weapons of machineguns, rifles, pistols and grenades. A few weapons jammed because of the dirt from incoming artillery as the big battle started and progressed, but overall, everything worked well. The men took their positions in bunkers. Besides members of K company, there were forward observers and machine gunners from M Company on OP Harry. They reinforced on the 11th, as well as companies "E" and "C" of the 15th Infantry. Lieutenant Richards, Lieutenant Buck, Sergeant Miller (I think), and I were in the command post. It was square, approximately ten feet by ten feet and probably eight feet high. It was made of prefabricated twelve inch by twelve inch timbers, dirt, and sandbags, with rocks on top. There was one entrance off the trench leading into the CP. I think there were three wooden benches on three sides, long and wide enough for sleeping.
According to the 15th Infantry After Action Report on OP Harry, at 1950 hours on the night of 10 June, the first CCF sightings were reported. Each sighting was engaged by mortar and artillery fire. The men who were on the listening posts in front of Harry returned to our bunkers and trenches under heavy enemy fire. The CCF had begun its offensive--one continuous big push. At 2130 hours, an ambush patrol west of OP Dick in the sector of the Greek Battalion reported Chinese numbering approximately 250 coming off of Jackson Heights in front of OP Tom. Mortar and artillery began falling on the 15th MLR, as well as outposts Dick and Harry.
After a short but intense firefight in the vicinity of Outpost Dick, including 2000 incoming rounds of enemy artillery and mortar fire, the enemy withdrew. This was recognized as a possible enemy feint, and all units were alerted. At 2245, while attention was still focused on Outpost Dick, word came that the CCF were in the trenches on Outpost Harry. In the CP, Lieutenant Richards helped with communication to the K company platoons while Lieutenant Buck directed artillery fire. I communicated with battalion and the platoons, and relayed CCF information to Buck until the phone and radio lines were cut by the enemy.
The enemy disposition at this time was not pinpointed; however, it was well known that there were in contact two unidentified battalions of the Chinese 22nd Regiment, 74th Division in the left sector, and two unidentified battalions of the 221st Regiment, 74th Division the right portion of the 15th regimental sector. The 221st Regiment, 74th Division, was located in the sector immediately opposite Outpost Harry. Enemy reserves capable of intervention in the Outpost Harry action were the two reserve battalions of regiments in contact with the 15th Infantry in the left sector, as well as three battalions of the 220th Regiment, not located, which were in the 74th Division reserve. All total, there was a reinforced CCF regiment of approximately 3,600 enemy trying to kill us.
A section of the Presidential Unit Citation that K company later received best explains what happened in the siege:
"Enemy assaults ranging from company size to a reinforced regiment were directed against the company’s position in repeated waves in a desperate attempt to take the critical outpost (Harry). By massing his strength in depth, the enemy was at times successful in penetrating friendly positions but was consistently pushed back by members of this company following rigorous hand to hand combat. On the night of 10 June, a reinforced regiment, employing small arms fire, automatic weapons and grenades, and supported by 20,000 rounds of artillery fire and mortar fire, launched the initial assault of a series of new attacks on the position. Although having sustained over 200 casualties in their initial attempt to overtake the outpost, the enemy was determined to seize the key terrain at all costs and charged repeatedly throughout the night of 10 June and the following morning. During the height of the battle the trenches at times were overrun, but met with the inspired close-in fighting of the beleaguered but courageous members of Company K, the enemy was ultimately repelled from the position. The extraordinary heroism of the members of Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in fulfilling their assigned mission reflects great credit on themselves and upholds the highest traditions of the military service."
As the siege continued, we were vigorously keeping the CCF out of the CP. Between issuing orders and gathering and relaying information, we were all shooting as many of the enemy as we could as fast as we could. I was knocked unconscious by a penetrating missile (shell fragments) to my skull.
When I regained consciousness, the CCF were in the CP bunker talking. I was not aware whether or not Lieutenant Richards or Lieutenant Buck were alive. I had something in my throat and I could not keep from coughing, although I knew it would alert the CCF that I was alive. It was dark and I could not see anything. After hearing me, a CCF soldier fired one round, shattering my right elbow. I could feel the bullet enter and exit. I did not make a sound, so they assumed I was dead. My thoughts were that I hoped I could be quiet so that I would not be shot again., and I was conscious enough to be concerned about my men.
After the CCF left the CP, Sam Buck gave me the first immediate medical assistance. I don't remember Sam administering first aid, and I don't remember talking to him. Maybe I had lapses of consciousness. Maybe it seemed routine. And maybe I've blocked more out than I realize.
[KWE Note: With Markley temporarily knocked unconscious, he was not to know all of the events that followed that day. Some details about what happened to Markley next on Outpost Harry can be gleaned from an eye witness account provided by Sam Buck of Winterset, Iowa, although Buck's recollection varies somewhat from what Martin Markley remembers. Buck was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 39th Field Artillery, attached to King company, 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at the time of the siege of Outpost Harry.
He started for his outpost about 9:30 p.m., and just as he got to the first bend in the trench, the Chinese started their horrific barrage. He told Markley, "You and Richards were in the back of the bunker and you both started firing to keep them out of the CP. My radio was in the middle of the bunker in front of you two. I can't remember if you told me to call in fire on us or if I did it automatically. I think that I did. I heard the grenade come in (I'm sure it was one of ours that we had cached in front of the CP in the trench). I could hear the fuse and I had to be the closest to it. I was still struggling with FDC to complete my transmission when the grenade went off, knocking me off the air. You two fell. You had moved closer to the door and I had to step over you to get to my carbine, as I had left it by the doorway."
In a narrative written over a decade ago entitled, "The Longest Night of My Life – June 10, 1953", Buck, who later received a Silver Star for his actions on June 10-11, wrote the following account about the events immediately prior to and immediately after a grenade came into the CP, injuring Captain Markley.
|"At about 9 p.m., on June 10th, all hell broke loose with artillery fire and
Chinese swarming all over. While Captain Markley and Lieutenant Richards were firing over my head to
keep them out, I was on the radio calling in fire on ourselves. The next thing I heard was that
unmistakable sizzle of an armed grenade behind me, and before I could complete my transmission, it went off
and Markley and Richards fell.
I ran to the door where I had left my carbine and caught a Chinese coming at me. Another grenade came in and I would step in the corner and put my head down against the blast and step back in the door and catch another trying to run in. This kept going on at least three or four more times before my hand and leg went numb.
I switched hands and laid the barrel of my carbine on the edge of the doorway and I let this Chinese almost run into me before I fired. The next grenade knocked me off my feet and I fell partly on the Captain. I heard some conversation outside the door and then I saw a Chinese with a flashlight coming in. I pulled the trigger on my carbine, but nothing happened. The CCF soldier started looking at the other side of the bunker and I wiped my bloody hand on my face to play dead.
He checked out and searched Lt. Richards, then Capt. Markley, and then he jerked my carbine out of my hands, went through my pockets and taking our weapons, he left. Almost immediately, two CCF came in carrying a wounded comrade, then more came in with wounded, and the next thing I felt a guard squatting near my feet. Every time he would let someone in, his rifle butt would slide up my leg that was cut up from the shrapnel. I knew if I moved, he would kill me.
Mr. Richards started coming around and was moving and groaning. After some conversation with the wounded, the guard got up and shot him. A little later, Captain Markley started to cough up something in his throat and the same thing happened to him. I could tell the Captain was still alive as I could feel him moving and due to the darkness, they couldn’t see him. A little later, a shell landed in our door and I could feel the guard lurch and fall over.
Just after daybreak the next morning, I heard GI voices outside and I could tell there was still hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches. Later a GI came through the door firing and I was shouting, "Cease Fire – GI." He stopped and said, "OK Doc" and left. At that time a shadow rose up in the middle of the room and was looking for something to use on me. I started digging too, and all I could find was a flashlight. I turned it on and stuck the light in his eyes and he seemed to quit reaching for something.
I could hear GI’s outside, but couldn’t get them to hear me. Finally, one came in and took care of the wounded Chinese. Then we looked at Captain Markley. His head was split open from one ear to the other and his eyeball was laying on his cheek. I’ll never know why I did it, but I cleaned the blood and dirt out of the socket with my fingers and put the eyeball back in place. What is hard to believe is that he still has the eye 40 years later and can see a little out of it.
My replacement F.O. was hit in both feet before he got to the top. Somehow, he found me and said he was going to take me back. About that time, I saw the medics taking the Captain down the hill. It was very hard going as the trenches were full of bodies (Chinese and American) as well as commo wire and all kinds of debris. I remember being on the back of a tank, in a jeep with litters sticking out, in a half track, and finally, an ambulance. I spent some time in a MASH unit, a school auditorium in Seoul, and finally an airplane for Japan.
It’s hard to believe that I survived the worst nightmare of my life, and I couldn’t if it had not been for men like Captain Markley, Lt. Richards (who never made it home) and the FO (whose name I never got) who wouldn’t let me quit until we got off that damn hill."
"The Longest Night of My Life – June 10, 1953"
Sam and I differ on my leaving the outpost. He believes that I did not talk after I was hit the first time, and that I was carried off the hill. I still think that someone helped me walk down under my own steam. I think that it was the battalion S-1 Lieutenant Meeker, and I seem to recall that I had my good arm around his shoulder as we came down the hill. I know that I stood for awhile at the base and wondered how everyone else was. I was told that we held the hill. I remember standing waiting for the personnel carrier and throwing up blood and dirt, but I don't remember medics except at the aid station. Someone had to put me on the jeep. Maybe I was "out of it" at the time.
I do remember that I was put on an armored personnel carrier, but before it could move, a mortar round exploded behind me and I received three more pieces of shrapnel--this time in the back side. They are all still there. My thought at the time was that being hit there after surviving the siege was an insult.
I was taken to a litter Jeep for the ride to the battalion aid station. The Jeep bounced, and when my head hit the litter, it hurt quite a bit. At the aid station, the surgeon cut my uniform, including boots, off. One medic kept pressure on my head wound while the surgeon removed shrapnel from my legs, arms, hip, and face. Forty six years later at a reunion of Outpost Harry Survivors, I met Sgt. Wayne Carlson, the medic who applied the pressure to my head wound. It was a very emotional moment for both of us. I was placed on a litter, loaded onto a helicopter, and was taken to the MASH. I don't remember the flight after takeoff. Undoubtedly, after medics got a hold of me, I was probably sedated.
A couple of weeks later in Tokyo, I learned about the end result of the siege of Outpost Harry. K company had 24 men killed in action, and approximately 135 wounded in action. I don't know how many casualties the CCF had. What I did find out, however, is that during the eight-day period that K company was on OP Harry, the entire 74th CCF Division was utilized against this position, and at the end of the engagement was considered combat ineffective. Enemy rounds fired in support of their attack during the period 10-18 June amounted to 88,810 rounds over 81mm size; friendly mortar and artillery units in conjunction with friendly tank fires were 368,185 rounds over 81mm size.
K company and the other companies and supporting units who were on Outpost Harry during that week in June of 1953 paid a high price in casualties, but WE HELD.
The only serious wounds I had were to my head, arm, and eye. I stayed at a MASH unit for one day. I remember the pain when they cleaned my head there. I was later told that alcohol was poured on my scalp as a disinfectant. That was the most pain I remember.
At MASH, a Gray Lady wrote a letter for me to my parents, in which I assured them I was alright. Gray Ladies were older American women (the motherly type) who dressed in gray uniforms and worked for the Red Cross. They wrote letters for soldiers and brought items the wounded might need, like books. Gray Ladies wrote letters for me in Osaka and Tokyo, too.
My mother said she had a dream that something had happened to me and anticipated the telegram with fear. The telegram said, "We regret to inform you that your son, Captain Martin A. Markley, was seriously injured in combat with wounds to his head, eye, arms, legs, and back." That was the first they learned I had been promoted. I must have been too busy to tell them.
From there, I was taken to Osaka, Japan, by plane. My records say that I was in Osaka on June 12. That means I was in MASH on the 11th and left the next day, which confirms I was not comatose. I stayed at Osaka Army Hospital for eight days. I got a cast on my right arm there, and I also got lots of blood. I was hooked up to the wrong type once. It felt like my whole body was on fire. I yelled for a nurse and it was changed. People I had worked with in Kyoto came to visit me, as did some friends of my parents who were living in Japan at the time.
Next, I was flown to Tokyo where I stayed until September (75 days). I had my right eye lens removed at the hospital due to fragments which tore the lens. One day my roommate, who was a member of the Colombian Army, informed the nurse that I was not responding. Immediate surgery removed a blood clot from my brain. Before leaving Japan, I was well enough to get liberty and go to a dance with an Army nurse.
There were many other wounded Korean War veterans being treated at all of the medical facilities where I was transferred. I remember meeting Lt. Constantine Pissiotas of the GEF in Tokyo. I did not know him before we met in Japan, but we talked a lot about the battle there. Sam Buck visited me while I was in the hospital in Tokyo. I met up with Capt. Emory Walker of the 15th Infantry, who was also wounded on Harry, at the next medical facility after Tokyo. I still correspond with them.
Sam later told me, "Both of your eyes were bandaged and your head was between two sand bags. The nurse told me that your left eye was still in place, but you probably would never regain your sight. Your other eye was fine. You recognized my voice and told me that you didn't want to go home until you could see."
From Tokyo, I was flown ambulatory via Hawaii to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colorado. It was only 100 miles away from my family. My parents visited me at Fitzsimmons Hospital the day after I arrived there. They were glad to see me, and I was glad to see them. We were not an emotional family, but I could tell they were concerned about me from the way they "inspected" me. I reassured them that I was fine. Our reunion was harder on them than me. We visited in my room and then talked to other parents who were in the ward. One was a person I knew from Cheyenne. He had lost a leg in Korea.
I stayed at that hospital for 152 days until January 1954. At Fitzsimmons, a titanium plate was added to my skull. I still had a hole in my head, and the plate was implanted to protect my brain in case I would ever be hit in that area and it penetrated. One day I was told to report to the operating room the next morning. I walked there and climbed on a gurney. They shaved half my head--the side where the hole was--and then I climbed on the operating able and put my face down into what was like a padded catcher's mask. They put a local in the scalp and cut it open wider. They used a hand drill to make small holes in my skull, fitted the plate, screwed it in place, sewed my scalp, and put a stocking cap on my head. I got up, walked to a phone, and called my parents. Friends enjoy that story. The screws made a lot of noise.
After a while, I could leave the hospital when I wanted. Lieutenant Lippitt, K company platoon leader, took me out in Denver to lift a few, and one night we went to his mother's cabin in the mountains. I saw a college football game, and spent Christmas in Cheyenne with my parents. Through the years, I have received no extended treatment for the wounds I received in Korea.
Lack of depth perception made driving and some activities difficult. My father was the most help with my depth perception problems. He had me drive his car and helped me judge distances. Initially, I thought I was about to hit everything to my right side. I learned a few years ago that the blow to my head reduced my field of vision quite a lot. With limited range of arm motion, the way I do some manual tasks is awkward. One fellow officer described me as the Captain with the funny salute. I blame the elbow and vision for my poor golf.
Occasionally, I have a few minor flashbacks to Korea. At Ft. Ord in 1954, I took my training company to range for night firing indoctrination. I was watching from the range tower, and when the firing started, the flash and noise caused me to shake and get weak. I started reliving Harry and had to leave. I had a hard time climbing down. Then in May of 1999, we had a most unusual weather condition one morning. There was a flash of lightning and with thunder close enough that our house shook. For several moments, I thought Sam Buck and I were on Harry. It brought back some very bad moments. It isn't something that goes away. Thank goodness it seldom hits hard.
Nearly recovered from my Korean War injuries, I returned to active duty on 2 February 1954, at Ft. Ord, California. I was not one of those guys who go a little (or a lot) wild after returning from war, but I did make up for lost time. I dated quite a lot.
The Army Medical Board placed several restrictions on me when I returned to duty: no military driving; no high climbing; no assignment involving firing; no physical training; no excessive use of my right arm; and no binocular vision. I waived all disability at Ft. Ord when they planned to assign me to Finance. I signed a waiver and took command of A Company 63rd Infantry. It was a basic infantry company that was later sent to Hunter Liggett Military Reservation to set up a new program for Advanced Infantry Training. I was Chief of Faculty. I had my own Jeep assigned without a driver.
I was recalled to Ft. Ord as 20th Infantry Regiment Plans and Training Officer, and established a new training program for the Department of the Army that allowed enlisted men to train for six months, and then be in the reserves for eight years. After that, I went to the Advanced Infantry Officers Course at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where I finished out my time in the Army as a machinegun instructor.
While I was the regimental S3 of the 20th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Ord near Monterey, I met Richard Nagel for the first time since we were on Outpost Harry. On OP Harry, Nagel was the commander of C company, leading them on a counterattack on Outpost Harry. He was wounded and evacuated in that battle. In 1957, he was at the Army Language School at Presidio of Monterey. Nagel had a very interesting life, later working for the CIA. I saw him again in the mid 1960s, and then again in the early 1980s.
About this time, I applied for school to get my Masters degree, as allowed by Army Regulations. I was accepted at the University of Southern California. My CO told me that I could go after I completed my current tour, but that after getting a degree, I would have to return to Ft. Benning for another tour of duty. Looking at the possibility of ten years and still at Ft. Benning, I was very disappointed. I decided that my future in the Army was limited. Therefore, I applied for and was granted a disability retirement. I was retired from the Army on 6 November 1958, having a combined service of ten years active duty in World War II and Korea.
Thinking back on my Korean War experience, I have to say that basic training in the Army was fine, but not the mental conditioning for combat. Going to Korea had changed me. Others noticed that my appearance had changed physically, and that I was also more serious than I used to be. I returned from the war disabled, so I had to work harder to keep up with others. However, I was more confident in my abilities. I had no trouble adjusting to civilian life. I got a job right away and had new objectives which were done through hard work.
I married Bobbie Merritt in September of 1956. The next year we had a son, Martin Paul Markley. In 1958, I was hired by North American Aviation in Southern California as a contract analyst. The company was later called North American Rockwell, and when I retired it was Rockwell International. As a contract analyst, I reviewed the Air Force contract requirements and saw that justification for payment from the Air Force related to the requirements.
I quit and for one year operated the American Marketing School, a trade school that trained PBX operators, grocery clerks, and meat wrappers. I was conned into buying a franchise in the unsuccessful trade school by my Best Man. He had just retired from the Army and was looking for something to do. The president of all the schools absconded with all the money, but I sold my part of it to a person who had money he wanted to throw away. Mobster Mickey Cohen had been conned, too. I met him, his friend Candy Bar, and his guard when they came to my apartment. I got tickets from him for the Academy Awards.
When I was asked to come back to North American as a manpower specialist, I did. I remained with them until I retired in May of 1989. My final position there before retirement was as Executive Advisor for the Vice President of the Engineering Department of the Aircraft Division. It was a job in administration that later became known as Human Resources. I controlled salary increases, oversaw hiring and recruiting, and worked with the corporate office. This was not only Southern California, but also for plants in Ohio and Texas.
My son died at the age of 21, and his mother died a year later. I married my present wife, Margaret, in 1973. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I have stepsons Phil, 52; Ash, 50; and Jon, 47. They have provided me with grandchildren whom I enjoy in my retirement. I also golf and am active in two veterans organizations.
The wounds I received on Outpost Harry have stayed with me in the form of limited vision, limited use of my right arm, and impaired hearing. I was retired from the Army 80 percent disabled, and receive disability retirement pay.
I think that the United States was right in sending troops to Korea in 1950. The communists needed to be stopped. I also think that MacArthur was right in going north of the 38th parallel, but don't think he should have gone as far north as the northern border of North Korea. Still, good did come out of the Korean War. The allied nations who participated in it prevented Korea from becoming a total communist nation. Called the "Forgotten War", Korea was not given the coverage that was given to World War II, and it did not have the total support of the country as World War II did. The Korean War also did not get the coverage that the Vietnam War got.
This memoir is just my experience as I remember it -- some good and some bad. I never told my son about it because it didn't seem as important as current life. I told parts to my stepsons about 10 or 15 years ago. They have especially learned about my experiences after I began to attend reunions. Upon retirement from civilian work, I learned of an organization of the 3rd Infantry Division veterans and joined to find men with whom I had served. After three years, I became active as a member and have held local and national offices. I held national office as chair of a committee, regional representative, regional vice president, and national president. Later, when someone suggested a get together of men who were on Outpost Harry, at my wife's insistence, I went. We formed the Outpost Harry Survivor's Association, in which I am still active. I joined the Korean War Veterans Association, but quit after three years because of their poor leadership.
I am pleased to say that, after I filled out a lot of paperwork and pushed three years for them, some very deserving members of my company finally received the military awards due to them for their heroism and gallantry on Outpost Harry. I felt that Sam deserved a Distinguished Service Cross. I talked to Colonel Cucolo, Commander, 3rd Brigade of the 15th Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Benning. I told him about what Sam did that night in Korea. Sam's deeds were greater than others I know of who received significant recognition. The colonel gave me a list of requirements needed to process an award, and told me to compile all the information that I could about Sam and his night at Outpost Harry. I ended up with a four-inch thick document. Army Awards Branch checked it all out, and we ended up getting something done for a man who deserves it. The award was approved, although Sam's award was downgraded to a Silver Star.
Along the way, Rep. Ed Royce, who processed the paperwork I submitted, added a recommendation for a Silver Star for me and a Bronze Star for Lieutenant Richards. When the Bronze Star for Mr. Richards was approved, I contacted his brother to ask him if he wanted a formal presentation. He just wanted it mailed. I was present at the Outpost Harry Survivors' Association reunion at Ft. Stewart in 2003 when Sam Buck finally received his Silver Star. It should have happened a long time ago.
I was approved for a Bronze Star, which arrived in the same package with Sam's and Richards'. I waited until after Sam was presented his star during a special ceremony conducted by the 3ID at Ft. Stewart, and then Royce gave me mine at a Town Hall meeting on the 23rd of June 2003.
Back in 1954, I learned that my records showed that my awards included the Bravery Gold Medal of Greece. I received a letter in 1954 from Headquarters, Greek Expeditionary Forces, dated 15 September 1953 addressed to me c/o Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was signed by George Koukmanahos, Lt. Col. Infantry, Commanding GEF Battalion. It said, "It is a distinct pleasure to me to appoint Captain Markley, U.S. Army, an honorary member of the Greek Expeditionary Forces Battalion in acknowledgment of his service to this gallant unit. The sincere cooperation of Captain Martin Markley and his utmost contribution to the successful accomplishment of the missions assigned to this great battalion are greatly appreciated by every Officer and Men of the Greek Expeditionary Forces and reflects great credit on himself and the United States Army. Effective this date, Captain Markley, an honorary member of the heroic GEF Battalion, is entitled the "Hellenic Forces" patch." I still communicate with the Greeks from time to time.
On June 10, 1953, Headquarters offered me a choice that not many people ever have. They had determined that I had served more than the required time in Korea because of the number of points I had already had from my year in Japan. I could leave Korea right then. The decision was easy for me, and without hesitation I returned to K Company. In retrospect, I have never regretted the decision. Had I decided to leave, I would probably have had a 30-year Army career, have been promoted a few times, and retired with full benefits. At the same time, I would have lived with guilt for leaving the men with whom I had served while they faced the biggest battle of their lives. I look at the battle for Harry as a true test for all the men and the unit to perform their duty. Very few who survived it consider themselves as heroes, since they were doing what they had been trained to do. They did their duty under the most unusual and difficult conditions. They were the best!!
|Name||Year of Birth||Date of Death||Home of Record|
|Pfc Melvin Matzen||1932||June 5, 1953||Columbia|
|Pfc Jesus Cruz-Ramos||1931||June 9, 1953||Puerto Rico|
|Pfc Carlos Asencio-Guzman||1928||June 10, 1953||Puerto Rico
Returned to duty
|Sfc Virgil Blakeley||1931||June 10, 1953||Lee, NC|
|Cpl Nicholas Cruz-Perez||1932||June 10, 1953||Puerto Rico/Chulibrk Lake, IN|
|Pvt Frederick Koenig||1932||June 10, 1953||Union, NJ|
|Pvt Edward Hanson||1935||June 10, 1953||Hennepin, MN|
|Donald Menken||1932||June 10, 1953||Whitesburg, KY|
|Sgt. Jack Miller||1927||June 10, 1953||Cabell, WY|
|Cpl Joseph Pereira||1932||June 10, 1953||NY, NY
Body Recovered 11/10/53
|Pfc Joseph Pugliese||1932||June 10, 1953||NY, NY|
|Cpl Donald Trubee||1932||June 10, 1953||Montgomery, OH
Declared KIA 6/11/54
|Cpl Virgil Baker||1929||June 11, 1953||Campbell, KY|
|Pfc Dan Chulibrk||1932||June 11, 1953|
|2Lt Eugene Gettig||1927||June 11, 1953||Mahonig, OH|
|Pfc Ernest Henderson||1925||June 11, 1953||Northampton, VA|
|Cpl Dean Holland||1931||June 11, 1953||Winnebago, IA|
|Pfc Joseph Houchens||1932||June 11, 1953||Washington, DC|
|Pvt Harold Plumley||1932||June 11, 1953||Fayette, WV|
|Pfc George Polcer Jr||1928||June 11, 1953||Cook, IL|
|1Lt George Richards||1929||June 11, 1953||Multnomah, WA|
|Pfc James Townsend||1935||June 11, 1953||McDonald, MO|
|Cpl Robert Scheirer||1928||June 11, 1953||Lehigh, PA|
Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division (Third Award) is cited for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Surang-Ni, Korea during the period 10 June to 11 June 1953. Defending a critical sector of the battlefront, the company was subjected to repeated attacks by numerically superior Chinese Communist Forces. Enemy assaults ranging from company size to a reinforced regiment were directed against the company’s position in repeated waves in a desperate attempt to take the critical outpost (Harry). By massing his strength in depth, the enemy was at times successful in penetrating friendly positions but was consistently pushed back by members of this company following rigorous hand to hand combat. On the night of 10 June, a reinforced regiment, employing small arms fire, automatic weapons and grenades, and supported by 20,000 rounds of artillery fire and mortar fire, launched the initial assault of a series of new attacks on the position. Although having sustained over 200 casualties in their initial attempt to overtake the outpost, the enemy was determined to seize the key terrain at all costs and charged repeatedly throughout the night of 10 June and the following morning. During the height of the battle the trenches at times were overrun, but met with the inspired close-in fighting of the beleaguered but courageous members of Company K, the enemy was ultimately repelled from the position. The extraordinary heroism of the members of Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in fulfilling their assigned mission reflects great credit on themselves and upholds the highest traditions of the military service.
Company B, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division (Third Award) is cited for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy in the vicinity of Surang-Ni, Korea during the period 11 June to 12 June 1953. During the night of 11 June, while occupying a vitally important outpost (Harry), the members of this unit successfully repelled several determined attempts by the Chinese Communist Forces to overtake their position. The enemy, moving up through its own artillery and mortar fire in an attempt to seize the key terrain occupied by Company B, assaulted the outpost repeatedly with forces up to regimental strength. With reinforced firepower, the enemy at times was successful in penetrating friendly lines but was subsequently expelled by the members of the defending unit in bitter hand to hand combat, thereby re-establishing the outpost line. On two separate occasions the assaults by the hostile forces were beaten off by close-in fighting and aggressive counter attack, causing the enemy forces to turn back with heavy casualties. By early morning of 12 June, the enemy had been forced to withdraw from the entire position and cease action. The extraordinary heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed of the members of Company B, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, in fulfilling their assigned mission reflects great credit on themselves and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service of the United States.
Company P Greek Expeditionary Forces Battalion (Second Award) is cited for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Surang-Ni, Korea during the period 17 June to 18 June 1953. Assigned the defense of a vital outpost position (Harry), the company encountered a major enemy assault on the evening of June 17. After an intense concentration of enemy mortar and artillery fire, the hostile forces, which had taken up an attack position on the northeast and northwest side of the outpost, moved rapidly through their own and friendly artillery fire to gain a foothold on the northern slope of the position. Refusing to withdraw, Company P closed in and met the attackers in a furious hand to hand struggle in which many of the enemy were driven off. The aggressors regrouped, quickly attacked a second time, and again gained the friendly trenches. Immediately, the Greek Forces launched a series of counterattacks, simultaneously dispatching a diversionary force to the east of the outpost which successfully channeled the enemy thrusts. After 2 hours of close in fighting, the aggressors were again routed and the friendly positions restored. The outstanding conduct and exemplary courage exhibited by members of Company P, Greek Expeditionary Forces Battalion, reflects great credit on themselves and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the military service and the Kingdom of Greece.
[KWE Note: The following message was written by Martin Markley on June 27, 1998.]
"I hope that we always remember why we have an association!!!
Having just returned from our latest reunion in Colorado Springs, I have reflected upon these reunions what they mean to our members and their families.
Each year we are privileged to learn about the involvement of new members and their experiences, as well as the new members hearing from others who describe their recollections.
These recalled accounts are at times emotional for both the families, new members, and the individual. It is a feeling that closely bonds this very unique group. For many it is difficult to explain what happened in 1953 and how it has remained buried for decades. Being able to talk about the experiences not only releases a lot of personal emotions, it allows others to know that they are not alone in their feelings. Wives and other family members have expressed their appreciation in learning about the individual involvement of their husband and father. These reunions have brought a better understanding within the families and we appreciate the support and understanding bestowed by the families.
For over 40 years, the events I was a part of in June 1953 were never discussed. I had wondered why I was able to survive and why others not. Especially why was our executive officer killed the night of June 10-11 while others of us were not. He had learned only a month earlier that his wife gave birth to their first child. Lieutenant Richards had a whole life to go home to and never saw his daughter and she never knew what a fine person he was. at our memorial service, I will always say a special prayer for the brave men like Lieutenant Richards and trust that we will always commemorate those who lost their lives.
To all who were a part of the Outpost Harry defense and to the many family members who have been supportive of those who participated in the defense of the outpost, I give my heartfelt thanks."
[KWE Note: The following message was written by Martin Markley on Veteran's Day, 2001.]
"I thought you might like to know that not all was terrible. Everyone who has been in a combat area has memories of events during that time. The most vivid memories are related to personal experiences during actual combat. Not every minute is spent fighting or preparing for a battle.
This morning when I was raising the colors and lowering them to half-staff, I had a strong feeling that today reminded me of a morning in Korea. Like here, as I exited my CP bunker, there was a light drizzle. The sky was a soft blue, and all the terrain behind our positions were starting to show signs of green. It seemed like a load was lifted to know that after battles in the winter of 52, the future would be better. It was probably the calmest day of my 10 months in Korea. The Chinese did not bother us, and our life that day was almost serene. I hadn't thought of that day in years."
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