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Charles Christie Scott

Beaver, West Virginia -
Korean War Veteran of the United States Army

"Death beckoned me to give up, but I remembered the remarks of a lecture drilled into us by one of my instructors, Lieutenant Wells, at the Leadership School in Fort Hood.  He said that, 'Most men who are wounded die of shock, not from wounds.' Lieutenant Wells, a superb officer and instructor, had served with the 25th Infantry Division on Guadalcanal and Luzon during WWII. I wearied myself trying to remember his remarks on how to avoid shock. I struggled to maintain the sitting position and called upon the Lord, who alone could save me."

- Charles C. Scott

 


[Charles Scott received questions from Lynnita Brown of the Korean War Educator in 2013/2014/2015 regarding his Korean War experience serving in the 1st Platoon, C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, and replied via his daughter RuthAnn to compile some of the following historical account. The vast majority of his memoir, however, is based on a day-by-day diary that Charles kept regarding his Korean War service and then expounded upon in 1953.]

An Account of a West Virginia Boy in the Korean War

Copyrighted by Charles C. Scott & RuthAnn Scott

Memoir Contents:


Cacti, Tropic Lightning and Taro Leaf

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Prologue

Cacti, Tropic Lightning and Taro Leaf is an account of a West Virginia boy and his tour of duty in a rifle squad with the 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, 8th United States Army. I was assigned to the division on 3rd August 1950.

The 25th Infantry Division with its outstanding record of service and sacrifice has never served within the continental limits of the United States and calls Schofield Barracks in Hawaii its home, being formed there out of the old Hawaiian Division on October 1, 1941 just prior to World War II. The distinctive shoulder patch is a Spanish red shield – shaped taro leaf trimmed in gold split by a gold lightning bolt. The division had its first brief baptism of fire at Schofield Barracks on Sunday, December 7, 1941 when men from D Company, 35th Infantry Regiment were led to form a defense perimeter and return fire on the planes of the invaders.

After jungle warfare training, the men of the division were issued cold weather gear for deployment in Alaska. When the troop ship left Honolulu it headed northwest, but in the morning the ship was sailing southwest. The maneuver was to fool the people in Honolulu. The division arrived at Guadalcanal in December 1942 where the division took part in the capture of Kokumbona and advanced to Cape Esperance in February 1943, ending the Japanese control of Guadalcanal. The 25th Infantry Division’s rapid movement on Guadalcanal earned the nickname “Lightning,” later to be known as “Tropic Lightning.” Major General J. Lawton (Lightning Joe) Collins, wartime commander of the 25th Division, later became the US Army Chief of Staff.

After Guadalcanal, the division, having successfully accomplished its first combat mission, continued its momentum with lightning deployment to capture New Georgia, Vella Lavella, and on January 11, 1945 the division headed for shore landing at Lingayen Beach on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines to commence the 165 Day Battle for Luzon.

The 165 Day Battle was recorded by Tropic Lightning soldier William de Jarnette Rutherford in terse, descriptive writing and one hundred seventy-six bold black and white graphic sketches. Quoting Rutherford from the forward of his book, 165 Days: A Story of the 25th Division on Luzon:

“To my way of thinking, an infantryman in combat is the only soldier who is fully equipped to comprehend the nature of that infamous scourge called ‘War.’ Therefore, it is to him that this book is dedicated in all humility. Having got permission from my commander, I took advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Luzon Campaign to follow our doughboys to the battlefield and record their lives there. My desire to do this came from the fact that I have seen reproductions of a large number of ‘war pictures’ which were done by competent artists, but which lacked an intimate understanding of their principal subject, ‘GI Joe.’ To paint life, one must understand it, and to understand it, one must ‘live.’ Therefore, by the same token, I say, to paint a soldier, one must be a soldier. At times, I have wished I were dead, only to snap out of it a little later, and be intoxicated by the joy of living. I have spent years at the old Army games of ‘hurry up and wait’, and ‘move it over here, then move it back again', while small boys call me ‘Joe.’ In other words, I am a ‘GI’ and this is how the Luzon Campaign looked to me. Many of my sketches were actually done under fire, while some had to be done from memory, because of such things as rain, darkness, and the violence of sudden, unexpected actions. I hate a lie and therefore, if anything of importance has been left out of my story, it is because I did not see it.” His concludes with the following: “After the one hundred and sixty-five consecutive days of combat, we were relieved, and the doughboys began their long journey to Camp Patrick for a much needed ‘rest’. Each white cross and each Star of David at Santa Barbara marked the grave of a man whose most fervent desire had been to go home, where he could live in the dignity of freedom. So it was with mixed emotions that we left them there, and headed for the transports, and Japan.”

After the Battle for Luzon, the division waited for the big battle--the invasion of Japan.  But with the capitulation of Japan, the 25th Infantry Division was selected because of their outstanding performance to be part of the Occupation Force to occupy Japan. The division was assigned to the south central Honshu sector. The Tropic Lightning headquarters was in Osaka. The 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment was located at Otsu near Lake Biwa-ko.

The Korean War prompted the United States to send ground troops to curtail the North Korean Army advancing, knifing its way into South Korea virtually unopposed. The 35th Infantry Regiment arrived in Korea on 13 July 1950, the nineteenth day of the war. I entered the 1st Platoon at "The Notch," a notable landmark near Chungam-ni on 7 August 1950, the forty-fourth day of the war. There were seventeen men in the 1st Platoon. They had been in combat twenty-six days. We learned very quickly that fear has two children: Courage and Panic. Courage is less contagious. Panic, being more contagious when contracted by an individual, a squad, platoon, battalion and even in a regiment, is hard to cure. Courage is not the absence of fear, but fear overcome, conquered. David had to come to this realization in Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"

This account is not culled from the official records of battalion, regiment, division, action reports or war diaries. The dates may or may not always coincide with official reports due to my ineptitude or the carelessness of many rear echelon and clerk typists who were not always concerned and of those who collected and collated the information who sometimes modified or fabricated it for official reports.

The men in a rifle platoon for the most part are not too concerned about the ebb and flow of battle.  To many, those who are exhausted from the demands of combat and who do not have the leisure or the luxury of time to document a day's events, it is just another day of duty.  A rifleman got $2.90 a day and a can of C-rations. Many could have documented or provided information, but were denied the opportunity by either being wounded and evacuated stateside while others were shot dead, leaving others to tell their stories. The men in a rifle platoon are for the most part the only ones who can convey the details of the ebb and flow of combat action. This expanded diary is not so much to bring the Forgotten War to remembrance to those who read it but rather, “Lest I should forget the men with whom I served and the combat action of our platoon" for which I seek to write.

The accounts of combat action in a rifle platoon will greatly differ from those who view the action from a distance, from hyperbolical reports written by journalists and writers who write with great creative imagination for their audience, their own self-esteem, the media or the movie industry in Hollywood. I deplore the menace that the media and the movie industry have portrayed which has led to the death of many soldiers who think that what they see in a movie theater or read on the printed page is how it is done instead of following the instruction received in basic training and advanced training by the Army. As in all wars, soldiers love to get their picture and name in print. Therefore they received the media good-naturedly and in good faith.

Once the North Korean Army was defeated during the first one hundred days (June 25 – October 2, 1950) of conflict, the complexion of the war changed drastically in becoming a political and a philosophical war. The war was no longer one of conquest and triumph, but one of compromise and talking. And to this date, 2014, the talking still goes on.

The 25th Infantry Division’s superb performance in the Korean War is commensurate with the outstanding achievements of the division in World War II and is well documented and substantiated in official records. As of 2014, the 35th Infantry Regiment is active in the Jungle Operations Training Course born out of the 25th Infantry Division’s regional alignment with Pacific Command and the Defense Department’s relevance in the Asia-Pacific region.

Of the ten campaigns, I participated in part or all of six of the campaigns as follows:

  • United Nations Defensive June 27th – Sept 15th 1950
  • United Nations Offensive Sept 16th – Nov 2nd 1950
  • Chinese Communist Forces Intervention Nov 3rd 1950 – Jan 24th 1951
  • First United Nations Counter Offensive Jan 25th – April 21st 1951
  • Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive April 22nd – July 8th 1951
  • United Nations Summer Fall Offensive July 9th – Nov 1951

My service in Korea with the 1st Platoon, “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment (RCT), 25th Infantry Division from August 6, 1950 to August 10, 1951 involved every position in a rifle squad. The approximate dates I served are as follows:

  • August 7, 1950 – September 18, 1950 Rifleman and First Scout
  • September 19, 1950 – September 27, 1950 Assistant BAR Man
  • September 28, 1950 – November 25, 1950 Tokyo Army Hospital
  • November 28, 1950 – December 31, 1950 Rifleman
  • January 2, 1951 – March 15, 1951 BAR Man
  • March 16, 1951 – April 30, 1951 Assistant Squad Leader
  • May 1, 1951 – August 10, 1951 Squad Leader

Upon my return to the Zone of the Interior from Korea in August 1951 as a Sergeant First Class, I was assigned to HQ and HQ Company, 1st Officer Candidate Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia. I was discharged from the Army at Fort Benning on August 22, 1952, having served three years, two months and twenty-two days. As early as 1953 I began to expand my diary with letters I wrote to family and friends of my service.

All that really matters in this world is my relationship and fellowship with God the Father through His Son, my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.


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Pre-Military

On Thursday, February 12, 1931, I was born in my grandparents, George William Ballard (May 1, 1856-November 21, 1921) and Mary Etta Hall (October 1, 1861–October 4, 1946) Scott’s home on Missionary Ridge, now Caldwell Street, Athens, formerly Concord Church, West Virginia, the fourth child of John William Irving Mankin (Tommy) (May 30, 1894–January 20, 1978) and Annie Ruth Christie (October 8, 1895–January 8, 1992) Scott. Mrs. Boone Martin, a neighbor, was attendant at my birth and gave me my first bath. My brother George Warren (May 13, 1925–December 25, 1999), who was six years old, named me Charles Christie Scott. My brothers John Irving (Jack) Jr. (May 21, 1922–December 20, 2003) and Robert Milton (September 9, 1938-still living) and sister Margaret Ann (May 29, 1928-still living) were named after parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, but I have the distinction of being named after a clan--the Christie clan.

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Ancestry

Both of my parents’ ancestors came from Scotland and Ireland, immigrating to America prior to 1750. They later settled in the Middle New River Valley and contiguous territory from other parts of Virginia after 1750. Our ancestors for the most part were not college-educated and as a rule had few advantages that education afforded. They brought with them all their earthly possessions that could be packed on horses or horse-drawn wagons consisting more or less of a horse, a cow, a rifle gun, dogs, cats, chickens and pigs. They brought some house furniture, pots, pans, eating utensils, a Dutch oven and iron kettles for making soap, apple butter etc. Much of the furniture was made in the home using native materials and techniques with tools brought with them. They also brought a variety of garden seed and hoes, axes, frow/froe, cross cut saw, handsaw, plane and drawing knife.

My mother’s grandfather, John Allen McKenzie (1822–1898) operated a store, grist mill and the Brown and McKenzie Pottery from 1868–1890 near Ingleside, West Virginia. They had thirteen children, one of which was Ozello Ruth (1864–1957), who married Milton Warren Christie (1854–1921). They had seven children. One daughter, Annie Ruth Christie, was my mother. She attended the free schools in Princeton and graduated from Concord Normal School (now Concord University), receiving her degree in 1918.  She taught six years in several schools in Mercer County. About two years after my parents’ marriage, they lost everything in a fire when they were living with their son Jack in the upstairs of a house rented from Doctor Riffe, who lived downstairs. This was in Meadow Creek, West Virginia, a railroad town. Some years later she walked six miles a day from Athens to teach in a two-room school at Todd’s Flat to help pay for a home, but lost it during the Depression. Mom and Dad moved to Oxley Hollow, where they started a new life. Mom milked the two cows, made butter, raised a garden, made hominy and apple butter in a brass kettle, made molasses, and canned berries, cherries, apples and vegetables from the garden. In the fall of the year they killed two hogs, butchered and cured the meat. She performed the duty of a midwife, and when a person died, she and another woman washed the corpse, dressed and laid the body out in a wooden casket that was made by someone in the hollow in time for an all-night wake. Mom and Dad worked to get a one-room school for Oxley Hollow.

My father’s grandfather, William Brown Scott (1838–1863) enlisted July 20, 1862 in the Confederate Army. He served as corporal in Company D, 17th Virginia Cavalry, and was captured by the Union forces. He died in Montgomery County White Sulphur Springs Hospital on May 17, 1863. He left only a son, George William Ballard Scott, born in 1856. My father was educated in the school in Athens and attended Concord Normal School. One of his first jobs was working in a brickyard at the west end of what is now Broadway Street in Athens. He was employed as a clerk at W. Lilly’s store prior to being employed as Assistant Cashier at the Bank of Athens, a position he kept until his induction into the Army on April 1, 1918. He served during World War I as a corporal in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division, and saw action in France – Somme Offensive, the Artois Sector of the Neuse – Argonne Offensive and St. Mihiel. He was given an honorable discharge at Camp Lee, Virginia on June 25, 1919. Upon his return, he became Cashier at the Bank of Meadow Creek in Summers County.

Mom and Dad attended the Meadow Creek Baptist Church where Dad taught a Sunday School class. He later attended Concord College and taught at Fox Elementary School in Summers County and at Maple Grove Elementary School in Mercer County. During the Depression, he was First Sergeant (Top Kick) and Company Clerk with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at Sharples.

In 1933 Dad’s great aunt, Mary Hester (Hettie) Fanning, gave him an eight-acre tract of land, more or less, on the north side of Athens, which we referred to as the “Promised Land.”  The eight acres consisted of two sloping hills on either side of the shallow bottom land.  At the north end of the bottom land, there was a slight knoll. The land was poor from raising various crops--corn, wheat, cane, tobacco, and was cow pasture before and after the War Between the States.  The land was well-suited for dew and black berries, sassafras, weeds, locust trees and milkweed. 

In 1936, Dad, along with other veterans of World War I, received a bonus of $600 for his service in the war.  He used part of this money to buy an old house which he tore down for the lumber.  Dad, at that time, was 42 years old and with the help of Jack, who was fourteen, and Warren, who was eleven, used the lumber and the bent nails which they straightened to rough in part of the house.  Sis and I would often walk from where we lived on Broadway through pine trees on a part of Uncle Tip's place to the Promised Land to watch the building of the house.  Mom would often send a little something for them to eat.  At five years of age, I was not much help and not very adept at straightening nails.

This house was not in my dad’s name, as the bank would have taken it due to a note he signed when the Scott boys built a house for their parents. When the parents could not make the payments to the bank, they foreclosed and since my dad’s name was listed first, the bank held him responsible. Dad took a job in underground farming (coal mining), but quit three days later when slate fell and broke his shovel handle.

After the beginning of World War II, Dad got a job at the Hercules Powder Plant as a carpenter in Radford, Virginia. The plant was expanding their operation to meet the demand for explosives by the military. Most, if not all, of the men did not own a car, so it was expedient since gas was rationed for a bus to pick them up at their homes around Athens on Sunday afternoon to take them to Radford and return them to their homes on Friday night. Dad’s brother, Oliver, was over a paint crew of about a dozen men painting houses for the Ritter Coal Company in Red Jacket, West Virginia. My dad worked with his brother Oliver for a short time until 1946 when his brother died.

Dad took a Civil Service examination during his service in the Civilian Conservation Corps. The result of that exam got him employed at the Beckley Post Office in Beckley, West Virginia in 1946.  Some of the part-time employment involved farming and share cropping.  After retiring from the post office, he kept active helping Jack at Scott Printers. He was very proficient in designing and silk screen printing calendars on fabric which he sold at craft fairs. Dad died at the age of 83 in 1978. Mom died at the age of 96 in 1992. Both are buried in the Faulkner–Fanning Cemetery in Athens, West Virginia.

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Many Moves

In 1932 my family moved to Oxley Hollow. Starting at the top of Goode Hill, the twisting, turning dirt road descended into Oxley Hollow. The first house was the Rosa and Virgie Oxley house on the right side of the road. The Oxley Family Cemetery was located on top of a hill just beyond the house. The cemetery was open to any who needed a burial plot. Just beyond this house was a gated wagon road to the left which one entered through a gate which led to the George and Laura Oxley Pearis house. The next house was Uncle Jack and Aunt Elizabeth (Lizzie) Oxley’s house, and then the old schoolhouse. Immediately after the old schoolhouse, a wagon road turned off to the right to the Roy and Muriel Oxley house, a half mile away. The next house was Mosrie’s, then the new schoolhouse, and at the end of the road was the Martin house. The road continued as a wagon road and there was a house rented by George and Audie Campbell on the left. The wagon road continued to a ford across Brush Creek to the Calloway place, where my Uncle Oliver and Aunt Causby Scott rented a house from Lee Oxley. Most everyone in Oxley Hollow and Athens was distantly related in this close-knit community.

The family moved to the George and Laura Oxley Pearis house in Oxley Hollow in 1932. The house is located about two miles north of Athens on the road to the shingle mill and community of Pride or Speedway. The house was about a half a mile off the road at the base of a rather large, steep hill across from the Rosa and Virgie Oxley house. The house consisted of three rooms: kitchen, front room and bedroom. The house was heated by a wood-burning cook stove (Home Comfort) and a King Heater in the front room. There was also a smoke house for curing and storing meat, a chicken house, shed, log barn, pig pen, a dog house and outdoor toilet. A spring was located in back of the house where the water issued out of the hillside. Water was carried to the house in two-and-a-half-gallon buckets. The water was used for washing, and one bucket with a dipper was for drinking. Chauncey Hall’s family moved into this house sometime later with seven children: Basil, Marie, Hazel, Bob, Kenneth, Glen and Curtis. While I have no recollection of living there, from the time I was eight years old until I was fifteen years old I was often in the house, as we hunted and I ran a trap line together with Kenneth and Glen. We could not afford many steel traps, so we made and set out forty to fifty dead falls. After trapping season ended, we would take the fur pelts to SS Belcher in Princeton and sell the pelts for less than we thought they were worth. We got a bounty of four dollars for each fox we killed and, as I recall, we only caught one red fox.

At ten or twelve years of age or older, we were instructed how to use a shotgun or a rifle for hunting. We handled guns with proficiency as well as we handled a hammer, hoe, saw or an ax.

We moved to the Rosa and Virgie Oxley house in 1933, located on the road about a half-mile away. The clapboard house was well-constructed for its day, consisting of six rooms. The kitchen was accessed only by an outside entrance. The kitchen stove and the King Heater, both wood stoves, heated two rooms. At night we had kerosene lamps to provide light. There were several outbuildings, a barn, chicken house, root cellar, smokehouse, sheds, and an outdoor toilet. Our water came from a spring across the hollow about fifty feet up on the hill where it issued out of the hill. A pipe had been driven into the hill to convey a constant supply of water to a concrete box about two feet by two feet and two and a half feet deep with an overflow pipe. A wooden lid covered the concrete box. This spring supplied excellent water. There were two or three red/orange salamanders in the spring, which some said was an indication of good water. Sis and I used to run around the house stopping at the stone chimney, which had a severe list as though it could topple down anytime. Sometimes we would stand in its path if it were to fall. One of us would scream as though it was falling, which would scare the other and we would run around the house screaming. We also wondered about the large boulder up on the hill behind the house. If it were to roll down, it would crush the house and what would happen if we were in bed when it rolled down the hill? I think we liked to live on the brink of danger.

At Rosa and Virgie Oxley's house I recall that I slept in a room with Jack and Warren.  Facing the house, it was the downstairs room on the right corner. Jack and Warren impressed me with their ability to forecast the weather with the window shade.  If the shade was all the way up, it was a nice day with sunshine.  Halfway up it was overcast or broken clouds, and up only part way, it was a rainy day or snow.  Several years later it dawned upon me that they took a peek, then adjusted the shade to the conditions before I woke up.  There wasn't anything my two brothers didn't know.

A short distance away, Uncle Jack Oxley lived in his house with his nephew Charley and Charley’s wife Naomi (Spec) Oxley. Charley and Spec had two boys, Jack and Robert (Bobby). When Spec came to visit, she brought Bobby.  Jack was at school. We played with some new pups that barely had their eyes open. We kept one or two of the litter which we thought was the best of the lot. Ones rejected were put in a burlap sack with a rock and thrown in the small stream across the road. We had plenty of farm animals: one horse, two cows, chickens, dogs, cats, ducks, geese and guinea fowl.

Jack and Warren always dressed me before we went to breakfast. They taught me how to put on my clothes, being wearied with the task each morning. One morning I pulled my clothes and shoes on, but they would not tie my shoes and went off to breakfast. I protested and acted like I was crying, but they went out the door to breakfast calling me a baby. I kept crying and shouting, “Tie my shoes.”  I got up on the bed and tried to remember how they tied them.  After several attempts, nothing worked. The first part was easy, but the bow was impossible. Throwing one lace over the other, I then pulled it up from underneath and threw one lace over the other making a loop, putting the lace through it. I repeated the same with the remaining lace, tucking it through the loop and giving it a yank.  I had just tied a knot--unconventional, but never-the-less, a knot. I tied my other shoe the same way, hopped off the bed, and joined them for breakfast. Were they ever surprised! It worked, and seventy-plus years later, it still works.

In 1935, moving day came again for the Scott family to move to Uncle Tip’s (John T. Faulkner) who married Mary Hester (Hettie) Fanning, my dad’s great aunt. We lived here briefly. While living here one day my mother was busy washing clothes on a scrub board just outside the door where I was playing with a reel lawn mower. I was pushing the reel around with my left hand. Mom warned me more than once not to play with the mower, as I might get hurt, but I was intrigued with the machine.  Sure enough, while pushing the reel around, a part of the palm of my left thumb was sliced off as the reel passed over the blade. I called for Mom, who rushed to my aid, assuring me that I would be alright, while wiping the blood away from the wound. Once the blood was staunched, she poured turpentine on the cut, loosely tied a rag around the cut, and gave me a kiss. By now my crying had turned to a few sobs as I went back to playing. The cut healed without incident. Mom examined it every few days to see that it was not too red or angry. She put a fresh bandage made from a clean rag to keep the dirt off while the wound healed.

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Diphtheria

Later in 1935, we moved to Broadway Street and rented a house belonging to Lee Oxley. This was about 100 yards from Uncle Tip’s, and was the best house we had lived in so far--with indoor plumbing and city water. During the winter of 1935-36, I had diphtheria and was not expected to live.  But as any good mother would do for her child, Mom nursed me back to health and stood between me and death’s door with her prayers, even risking the possibility of catching the dreaded disease by her tender care of me. The house was quarantined and only Mom and the doctor were allowed in the room with me. I was in isolation from everyone except them. The room was on the left corner of the house facing from the street. I do not recall much because of the high fever and great weakness causing me to sleep a lot. I remember Doctor Vermillion and Mom coming into the room and giving me a shot. He stopped in to see how I was doing. Mom had sent for him as I was not doing well at all. He gave me another shot. Mom told me later that Doctor Vermillion had said that he had given me all of the antitoxin that I should have, but with her consent he would give me another shot which he said would either “kill or cure me.” Out of much anguish of heart she consented, so he gave me another shot. During my long convalescence I can still see Jack, Warren and Sis playing in the snow, making a snowman and climbing upon a box to the window where they would peck on the glass to get my attention. They would entertain me by making a face at me. Often they would swing on the porch to entertain me--anything to cheer me up, a much-needed therapy. I was extremely weak and puny, but their entertainment went a long way in nursing me back to health. I longed to go outside in the snow, but I was too weak to consider it.

In September 1936 when I was five years old, we moved to the Promised Land. We lived here until 1946. Estle and Dee Oxley were our neighbors and they had eight children: Ralph, Harold, Rosalie, James, Margaret and Pearis (who were twins), Clarence (Tink), and Bennie. The other neighbor was Estle’s brother Lee and his wife Bessie. Bennie, who was a year younger, was a close friend and playmate.

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My Grade School Years

I started schooling at Athens Elementary School (Concord Training School) in 1937 and was there through sixth grade. I then went to Athens High School from seventh through eleventh grade. The high school was adjacent to the elementary school, and I was there from 1943 to 1948. From 1948 to 1949 I attended and graduated from Greenville High School in Greenville, Monroe County, West Virginia. These were all public schools.

In 1937 I started the first grade at Concord Training School.  There were many activities and rules that we had to follow.  The teacher, Louise Lipps, called the roll and we had to answer, "Present" when our name was called.  We had to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  The teacher would have us learn a song that we would sing.  We had morning and afternoon recess when we would go outside, weather permitting, playing tag, some jumping rope, hop-scotch and teacher-directed activities.  We had to take a nap on our rug and eat our snack we brought from home.  Mom would pack my lunch: a biscuit with butter and jam or a biscuit with ham and a fried apple pie.  I carried a half pint of milk from our cow.  When it was cold, I wore a coat that was given to us by Aunt Billie.  I didn't find school very interesting, though we had a student teacher from Concord College who taught our music lessons.  Most, if not all of the students were drawn into the learning circle to sing.  The student teacher was young, attractive, and very enthusiastic compared to our classroom teacher, who was spoken highly of by my parents.

In the second grade we followed many of the routines of the first grade.  No longer did we take a nap or have a snack.  At recess the boys began to play less with the girls.  We took turns as to what activities we would play at recess.  We were introduced to games where we would have two opposing sides and the team leaders had to choose their members from the class.  I found school more interesting as I was drawn into the learning circle.  A student teacher from Concord College helped with math.  Somehow I did not understand the concept taught by the classroom teacher, Mrs. McCorkle.

The third grade continued with the general format: Mrs. Cooper, the teacher, called the roll before we saluted the flag, and said the Pledge of Allegiance.  Instruction was structured in many more areas of spelling, writing, math, hygiene, art and music.  We had a student teacher in the fall term who was able to secure a supply of round reed from some government agency to be used in teaching basket weaving as one of the art activities. I was drawn into this as it was a practical activity.  The round reed was soaked in water to make it more pliable, easier to handle and was kind to our hands.  Once we were given an overview and a demonstration, I found it frustrating managing so many loose ends of the reed to form the bottom of the basket.  The teacher's demonstration looked so easy.  The student teacher gave a helping hand and a word of encouragement.  Once we had accomplished that, I started weaving the round reed over and under until I had completed the bottom.  The forming of the vertical part was a bit of a challenge transitioning from the flat bottom.  I somehow made the transition curved instead of a sharp angle like the instructions.  The curve was continued to the top which was necked into a smaller mouth than the bottom.  The student teacher talked to me in a nice way about the shape and form of my basket.  I explained that I liked the feel and form of the basket as it reminded me of the baby chicks that I held in my hands, or a duck or goose egg or a smooth creek pebble.  She helped start the reed handle which completed the basket.  At Mom's encouragement, I entered a floral arrangement contest sponsored by the Athens Garden Club and my floral arrangement won first prize in the children's division.  In the spring we had another student teacher from Concord College.  She was teaching reading and to gain our interest she had purchased a compressed popcorn Easter bunny rabbit wrapped in bright red cellophane.  The best reader would receive the bunny rabbit as a prize.  I began to read and read so I could win the bunny rabbit as a prize.  I won the bunny rabbit!  The contest continued the next week.  I continued to read and read and won the popcorn bunny rabbit covered in bright yellow cellophane.  The classroom teacher said though I had won the prize, it would be given to the next best reader.

In the fourth grade we had an elderly teacher, Katherine Gibson (or at least I thought she was elderly). She was an excellent teacher. We studied geography, math, spelling, science and history. The textbook, Our America by Irving R. Melbo, was about America and the people who made it great. Of the many Americans, I enjoyed learning about Daniel Boone, who wanted to know what was on the other side of the mountain. I was also impressed by Captain Edwin C. Musick, a pilot for Pan American Airways who flew the flying boats dubbed China Clippers. He established the Transpacific Route from San Francisco, California to Honolulu, Hawaii, to Midway Island, to Wake Island, to Guam and then to Manila, Philippine Islands. The teacher had a large bulletin board with pictures of those who made America great. Some of the others that I recall are: Jedediah Smith, Thomas Alva Edison, Walter Reed and Richard E. Byrd. The teacher was fond of birds. Some of us brought our gravel shooters (sling shots) to school and during recess we went below the school hunting for birds to shoot that were nesting. Once our classroom teacher knew of this, she made us bury the birds in a little, secluded area. Our gravel shooters were banned from the school property. We had a spelling bee in class once a week. The class would line up in a circle. As the words were given out, they became progressively harder. If you missed a word, you had to take your seat. Before long the line had only a few in the circle. I won the spelling bee. The next week I lost to a girl whose father was a teacher in the high school. The girl made a similar mistake that I had made, but the teacher made me take my seat. The competition was keen and helped us to spell correctly.

In the fifth grade our teacher was Mrs. Hight and we continued our basic morning procedure of previous grades: roll call, salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance before singing one or two songs such as America the Beautiful and My Country ‘tis of Thee. All the students enjoyed the singing. We continued our curriculum of study. The boys no longer played with the girls. We played soft ball, dodge ball and marbles. Then in winter we made slicky slides and played fox and geese. We formed small groups with one being a leader. In our group we played with a jack knife. All boys carried one, but it had to be a two-bladed knife with both blades in the one bolster. The long blade of the knife was opened completely; the short blade was opened half way and stuck in the ground. We took turns in flipping the knife. How it landed, scored points. The first one who scored the set number of points went out. The one with the lowest points had to root the peg out with his teeth. Each player got to drive the peg by holding the knife by the long blade and hitting the peg with the side of the knife once or twice. This was done by folding the knife, holding it in our fist and aiming to hit the peg with the end of the knife. A direct hit might drive the peg out of sight. There was some danger in flipping the knife.  It could hit one of the players, as it often happened. We could have been hit in the eye, but it never happened.

In the sixth grade we continued the basic procedure of previous classes.  We had a man teacher, Fred S. Rogers, who was also the Principal of the elementary school.  He was an exceptional teacher and later went to Concord College to Chair the Social Studies Department.

In the seventh grade we went to the new Athens High School built by WPA workers with cut sandstone from Oxley Hollow.  This building was completed in 1941 and was less than a hundred feet from Concord Training School.  This was a new experience for us as we had a home room and changed classes by going to another room for different subjects.  The Principal was Dr. R.E. Klingensmith.  The teachers were Dorsey Martin, Virginia White, Evelyn Overstreet, Joe Vachon, Ruth Martin, Helen Everett, Doris Farley, Ruth Coffindaffer, Sadie Mann and T.J. Perry.

There was an influx of new students from other elementary schools in the surrounding area. We walked about a mile to school. When the weather was good, we would run home for lunch as we had 45 minutes. At school we had a classroom set aside for lunch hour for those who brought their lunch. We ate in this classroom during inclement weather.

In 1944 when I entered the eighth grade, I had several things to do before I left for school. I was up early and started the fire in the stove in the front room and in the cook stove in the kitchen. This allowed Mom to sleep a little later and get up in a warmer house. I let the chickens out of the hen house and fed them, put hay out for the two cows and slopped the two hogs. The slop was in a five-gallon bucket near the sink, and contained the dish water and table scraps to which I added Red Dog chop and stirred it up before pouring the slop in the hog trough. I also pulled weeds and fed them to the hogs. When trapping season was open, I got up before daylight and, after building the fires, I filled the lantern with lamp oil, loaded my Winchester 22 magnum pump rifle with an octagon barrel, and I left the house in the dark to check my end of the trap line. We killed hogs in November, but we held one hog that was small to the next year so I still had that chore. Sometimes I had to rush to catch the school bus.

In the eighth grade we continued our basic format of instruction. One teacher, Virginia White was quite the exception. She noted that I liked to draw and if not drawing, I would exhibit an aversion that could become a problem. When she was reading stories to us about Robinson Crusoe or Long John Silver, she encouraged me along with another student, Pat, to draw pictures of the characters. She would then post them on the classroom bulletin board. I went out for basketball and made the second team. I got to play in one or two games, but didn’t really care for basketball. After school, I shelled corn to feed the chickens, split wood for the kitchen cook stove, and, when we had coal, I would carry a five-gallon bucket of coal into the house from the coal pile. I also gathered eggs, cleaned the manure out of the barn, put fodder out for the cows and slopped the hogs. Though I could milk, Mom milked the cows most of the time. She poured the milk through a screen to remove hair, dandruff and other things that got in the milk while milking. She made butter, buttermilk and cottage cheese. Sis helped make butter and I helped on occasion. At dark I locked up the hen house. We listened to the war news. I would go over to Bennie’s house to hear the Lone Ranger. We often did chores together. His mother and mine put out the washing at their house as they had a washing machine. We did not have a washing machine. They made lye soap using wood ash to make the lye.

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World War II

Towards the end of the first term of fifth grade, my brother Jack came home from work at the Celanese plant in Pearisburg, Virginia, with a copy of the Sunset News, a newspaper published in Princeton, West Virginia.  The big headline read, "JAPS BOMB PEARL HARBOR."  It was December 7, 1941.  I was ten years old.  We had a radio, but the reception was very poor.  We could not afford a newspaper.

We had air raid drills at school.  We were given detailed instructions as to what we were to do in case of an air raid or a drill.  We were to go down stairs and face the wall along the hallways.  On the first air raid drill we got out of our seats and walked in an orderly fashion down the stairs.  Bill White, the boy in front of me, broke rank and went and faced the wall.  I followed the others, but I knew that Bill was following the instructions.  I followed everyone outside.  When the all-clear was sounded, Bill, who faced the wall, got all the praise from the Principal.  He declared the rest dead or wounded.  Even though we were far inland, towns were instructed to hold air raid drills.  We lived out of town, but could hear the siren.  When we heard the siren at night, we turned our lights off.

My brother Warren was appointed an Air Raid Warden for the city of Athens to make sure all the lights were turned off after the siren sounded.  If anyone refused to turn off their lights, he was authorized to go into the house and knock the light out with a long pole which was issued to all Air Raid Wardens.  An old couple, the Weeks, who lived close by, had their lights on so he knocked on the door and explained to them that it was an Air Raid Drill and they should turn their lights off.  He said he would tell them when the drill was over.  Their granddaughter was in my class at school.  Their son was killed in the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942.  He served on the aircraft carrier Lexington.  On our way to school we would count the number of blue or gold stars posted on a small white banner with a blue border hanging by a gold cord in the windows of houses.  The stars indicated how many sons they had in the war.

My brother Jack left for the Army on October 8, 1942, our mother’s birthday.  Just before he left he bought a record with the song, “Goodbye Momma, I’m off to Yokohama.”   We played the record on our wind-up Victrola.  The spring wind-up was broken, so we used our index finger to turn the records at whatever speed suited our fancy.  On the reverse was, "I May Stay Away a Little Longer."  Jack was the first group of 21-year-olds to be drafted. He served in the 311th Ordnance Company, and was sent overseas to New Guinea.  He later became part of the invasion forces that landed on the island of Leyte in the Philippines. He was discharged from the Army in 1946, having served three years, three months and sixteen days. He made it home safely.

At school, we did not have recess to play games.  Because of the war, we were doing close order drill on the street, running the obstacle course and special courses such as aerial navigation, which my brother Warren took. He graduated from high school in 1943 and was drafted at the age of eighteen into the Army in September. After basic training he was assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, and saw his first combat at age nineteen in Anzio, Italy in 1944. At the same time, my first cousin, Captain Lewis Larew (December 18, 1916-April 24, 1944), was killed while serving as a Captain in the 39th Engineers Combat Regiment.  John, his brother, an Ensign in the Navy, was serving on one of the ships involved in the Anzio invasion.  Both graduated from West Virginia College of Technology.  Prior to John going to the Navy, he gave me a Winchester 22 octagon barrel pump rifle.  I was eleven years old.  Due to circumstances, I did not know my cousins who lived in Beckley very well, though I got some wear out of the clothes they handed down.

We now had two blue stars in our window.  The Oxley family had four, and the Weeks had a gold star.  The gold star meant their son Virgil was killed in action.

My sister and I collected milkweed pods, which we put in bags in groups of 2,000. This was for the war effort. We also collected grease from fried food and delivered it to collection stations. We were issued a ration book for food and kerosene (lamp oil). If we could have afforded to buy what was allocated on the ration book, it would have greatly raised our standard of living.

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Teen Chores

Estle Oxley’s son James worked for Will Williams, who owned a dairy farm about three miles below Athens where a right turn was made off the road to Pettry at the bottom of Pump House Hill. Their dairy consisted of a large clapboard house, milk house, a wooden bridge over a ravine leading to the cow barn, several out buildings and a collecting pit for manure about one hundred yards from the cow barn. James and his wife bought the dairy farm and lived in the house. James was drafted into the Army during World War II. Workers were hard to find during the war, especially on farms. His uncle, Giles Martin, a brother of his mother who lived with the Oxley family, moved to the dairy farm to help with its operation. His brother, Clarence (Tink), and my two cousins, Oliver and Bill, helped part-time. My two cousins later went to work and Tink was drafted into the Navy. Four of the Oxley boys were in the service. Estle asked my mother if I would work on the dairy farm. We would do anything to help.

I was eager to start work at age thirteen in the summer when school was out. I got a dollar a day, meals and would sleep in the room above the milk house. Will Williams came back to help. Giles started after the thirty or so cows at 4:30 a.m. We started milking by 5:15 a.m. I milked three cows by hand in the morning. Then I bottled milk in quarts, pints and half pints for customers in Athens and Concord College. Sometimes I would go with Will in the red 1938 Chevrolet truck to deliver the milk. I would grab two quart bottles of milk, jump off the tailgate before the truck stopped, and run to the house to set the milk down carefully. I would grab the two empty bottles and run back to the truck, putting the empty bottles in the wire rack. At the college we set several wire racks of half-pints off and picked up the wire rack with the empty bottles. The bottles were rinsed, but I washed them back at the milk house. Most of the time one or two boys ages eight to ten would ride their bicycles from Athens to the dairy. They assisted us in delivering the milk. Will paid them twenty-five to fifty cents a day. The Dairy Inspector would see us in town and he would collect two quarts to test it for bacteria. If he got the milk off the truck, it could be quite warm. The report came back with a high bacteria count. If he visited the milk house and got the milk from a cooler, the count was always lower. He inspected the barn and the milk house. He checked the surge electric milkers. If he felt calcium deposits in the milker, he told me to scrub it out. I always rinsed the milker with cold water. Once calcium forms in the milker it continues to build. I had to have a health permit that I was free from communicable diseases. The Dairy Inspector said that I should have clean clothes to work in the milk house. He demanded something I did not have. When I did not accompany Will, I washed and sterilized the surge milkers, milk buckets, five and ten gallon milk cans, the hand operated bottle machine and the first milk cooler. Often if Giles had some work to be done I cleaned the dairy barn, putting the manure in a large bucket that was raised and lowered by a chain hoist. This was attached to an overhead rail. When it was full, I took the bucket to the manure pit. I also had to clean the manure that was on the ground fifty feet away from the barn. This was a very messy job when the cows foraged on green grass. After supper I washed, disinfected, and rinsed the bottles, and put them in the wire racks to be filled the next day. Most days I worked twelve to fourteen hours. I, along with Bennie, Estle’s youngest son, and Glen and Ken Hall hoed corn. The corn was for silage. The money I earned was given to my mother to buy school clothes and for household expenses.

James was discharged from the Army in 1945. I worked the summer of 1945. The routine was about the same and I knew how to do any of the required work. When I accompanied James to deliver the milk, he would let me drive the truck to the city limits of Athens where I stopped at a wide spot in the road. James would drive while I delivered the milk. When we had delivered the milk, we stopped as we left the city limits and I would drive back to the dairy. Pump House Hill had a lot of curves and was rather steep, so going up and down required changing gears often. James was an excellent teacher. He taught me how to double clutch going up and down in the gears. That was a big plus for me at fourteen. The ability to double clutch and the driving lessons taught by James were indeed helpful from that day on. Virginia Mae Whitlow helped for the summer. She was related to James’ wife, Mona. She loved to sing and had a beautiful voice. She often helped me in the milk house washing bottles or milk cans and milk vessels when she was not helping Mona in the house or taking care of Jimmie, their son.

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My High School Years

After eating our packed lunch at school, some of us ninth graders walked downtown. We noticed two soldiers sitting on the edge of the sidewalk across the street from Jennings Drug Store. We gathered around the two soldiers. One had a crutch and we started asking questions. They were returning from a rest leave to the Greenbrier Hotel, which had been converted into a military hospital for wounded and critical care soldiers. We asked them lots of questions and they related their experiences in the war. Some of the students returned to school for afternoon classes, but I stayed until all of the students had returned to class. I was enthralled with their war stories.  They were my heroes, and I decided I would wait with them until they caught a ride. They were hitchhiking via Route 20 to Hinton and then to the Greenbrier Hotel. At last a car stopped. They quickly shook my hand. One ran to the car and opened the door for his buddy, who was hobbling with his crutch. He then shut the door and opened his door. As he did so, he turned and shouted, “Remember Pearl Harbor. God bless America ‘til we meet again.” I returned to school late for class, but so what. I told the teacher why I was late and received a slight reprimand as to my responsibility as a student. Adam Martin and I and some others started playing hooky. We had been fortunate and had gotten away with it so far at school.  Not even our parents suspected anything.

We continued playing hooky in the tenth grade. In some previous infraction of the rules, a few of us were disciplined for our behavior. Once several of us went to the Sweet Shop near Concord College during the afternoon recess. As we walked back to the school, we were caught by the coach and taken to the office. There were quite a few of us in the office. The Principal gave the usual five licks with the paddle. Two of us were to get twice the number of licks with the paddle. The one boy said he would not take the ten licks and was expelled. The Principal expelled me for being off the school grounds. I stayed out of school for several days and Adam joined me. We had an agreement that if one was expelled, the other would stay out of school until he was readmitted. I tried to get back in, but the Principal said that I could not be admitted until a parent came with me. It was very embarrassing. I had written a lot of excuses with Mother’s backhand slant--writing and signing her name. He dumped the excuses out on the desk. Mom thought I had been coming to school every day. I was readmitted. A boy who was ahead of me in school had run away from home. His plan failed and he returned to school. I ran away from home, but was found by Jack, my older brother. The incident was very upsetting to my mother. I was asked a lot of questions by students when I returned to school. Well, this is part of my education.

In the eleventh grade I attended the academic classes at Athens High School in the morning. At noon we boarded a school bus driven by Harve Ball, who took us to the Glenwood Park Vocational School in Glenwood. During the first week of school when I got off the bus, Adam Martin, who did not sign up for the vocational school, met me. We decided to skip school. So we went down by the Baptist Church around the hill and back to town where the Amoco gas station was located and operated by Bob Barrett. We pumped gas all day for fifty cents. At school the next day, we were called to the office. We had a new principal, A.C. Hinkle, who had been principal at Matoaka High School in a coal mining town. He said that he had heard about us. He asked Adam why he was not in school yesterday. Adam replied quickly that it was raining, he got wet, returned home to change clothes, and did not return to school. He asked me why I was not in school. I had a hunch that he had seen us. I came clean and told him that I went to the Amoco station and pumped gas all day for fifty cents. He replied that he had watched us go down by the Baptist Church. My hunch was right, but the surprise came when he said that he was not going to paddle us. The act of pure grace broke my heart. Adam and I never played hooky after that.

At the vocational school there were seven different areas of study. Students spent six weeks in six of the seven areas. If successful, a student could sign up for a single area of his choice the second year. The areas were: electric shop, welding, sheet metal, milling and shaping machine, machine shop, radio and coal mining. A pick and shovel had nothing to do with the coal mining area. They went to a building with a simulated mining shaft. Students worked on processes of ventilation, size of fans, air velocity, motor horsepower to operate a fan, and math to determine the flow of air through the mine. I liked operating the lathe in the machine shop and the electric shop. A few of the students were handicapped. For them it was good that they could learn a trade winding armatures for electric motors repaired for the coal mining operation.

Some of us listened to a Marine Corps recruiter. I was fired up about joining the Marine Corps, but Mom would not entertain the thought of my joining the Army or Marine Corps. Dad did not object so much, but he said the recruiter’s work was to entice you to join, but once in, then it was a different story. He said, “Wait until you are eighteen.”

When I started the twelfth grade, my sister Margaret Ann was in her senior year at Concord College and she was scheduled to do her practice teaching at Athens High School. Since I was a rather rowdy, poor student, Margaret Ann was very apprehensive and upset because of the crucial situation confronting her. If I were in Athens High School, I might jeopardize her making an ‘A’ or cause her to fail as a student teacher if I were in her class. They worked out a plan where I would go to Hans Creek in Monroe County and stay with our Uncle Edgar Larew’s brother, Robert Larew on his farm which had been in the Larew family since 1798. I was to cut brush for our first cousin on Uncle Edgar’s farm. I went to Hans Creek and stayed in the farm house with his sisters, Sadie and Genevieve, who had both been school teachers.

Robert and Gladys had ten children. Four were living at home at the time--Wilbur, Tully, Charles and Julia. My cousin John took me to the Hans Creek Church, where I met the boys. They went swimming in the Mill Dam and later that day the boys invited me to go along. I did not own a swimsuit and neither did they. This became a ritual almost every evening after working on the farm until about mid-December.

They talked to me about going to Greenville High School and playing football. It sounded like a good idea. I went out for football, but the coach, Rufus Houchins hated to inform me that I had to live in the county a year to be eligible to play football. I thought about going back to Athens, but I liked it on the farm. I graduated from Greenville High School in 1949. There were many chores on the farm, and not any of them that I could not do. While the plan was to be a secret between my mom, Sis and the Larew family, it was not kept and I knew about it early on. However, this experience on Hans Creek was a turning point in my life. My cousin, John Larew impacted my life in a positive way, as did Wilbur. Both were excellent role models. I am deeply indebted to the Larew family and their neighbors, and have fond memories of my stay on the Larew farm.


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Signing Up for the Army

Immediately after graduating from high school and being too fast for class and too much knowledge for college, my cousin Oscar Scott and I left our hometown of Athens, West Virginia, and hitchhiked twenty miles to the Army Recruiting Station in Bluefield, West Virginia. Bluefield was the hometown to Junior Spurrier, who was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving with the 35th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II.

They were glad to see us at the Army Recruiting Station.  The Recruiting Sergeant gave us a short written test and we signed a letter of intent. He gave us a form and entrusted us to take the form to Athens and have it signed by a law enforcement official or mayor stating that we were not fleeing from justice or had any past or pending violations of federal, state, county or city law. If we had any unsatisfied indebtedness or moral issues pending, this meant a trip back to Athens to get the endorsement on the form.

On our return we were taken to the Beckley Recruiting station in Beckley, West Virginia. There we joined about twelve other recruits and assembled in a room for orientation. We were given a test and a physical exam. Those who passed the test and physical examination could join the Army or Navy. Those who scored high enough could enlist in the Air Force. We decided to go to the Air Force, but the quota had been met for the week, so we decided to enlist in the Army.

On June 2, 1949, we took the Oath of Allegiance to defend the Constitution of the United States and were given a service number. Mine was RA13328908 and Oscar’s was RA13328919. We were given the rank of Recruit, seventy dollars pay a month, three meals, and a cot. We spent the night in a tourist home. At last my odyssey had begun.

The next day we were taken to the train station in Prince, West Virginia, and boarded a Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) train for Cincinnati, Ohio. The architecture of the Union Terminal overwhelmed us in size and content. From Cincinnati we traveled to Louisville, Kentucky on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. An Army bus picked us up in Louisville, Kentucky and took us to Fort Knox, Kentucky.


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Basic Training

At midmorning on Saturday, June 4, 1949, we arrived at the headquarters of the 3rd Armored Division in Fort Knox, Kentucky. We transferred from the bus to a truck. The truck driver proceeded to take us through various streets and roads passing the many cream-colored buildings, some with signs designating the units occupying them. We saw an occasional tank mounted on a pedestal, troops marching in formation on the road, and others in fields training.

We arrived at our destination--a cream-colored building with the sign, "Company A, 7th Medium Tank Battalion." The Company Clerk came out with a roster and called off our names. His name was Corporal R. E. Chaney. He was joined by Master Sergeant O. Lockard, the First Sergeant who welcomed us to Company A. He spoke briefly to us that we were in a tank company for administration and basic training purposes only and it had nothing to do with tanks. We were introduced to Sergeant First Class O. Sheetz, the Field First Sergeant. He spoke very briefly and assigned us to the Third Platoon. We were taken to the barracks of the Third Platoon. Sergeant First Class A.O. Bailey, a big man, introduced us to his assistants: Private First Class J. H. Beck, Corporal K. Y. Todd, and Private First Class F. P. Williams. We were taken to the supply room to be issued a mattress, a mattress cover, a pillow, a pillow cover, two sheets and two olive drab wool blankets. We signed a sheet indicating we had received them.

Back in the barracks one of the Assistant Platoon Sergeants demonstrated how to make up our cot. He explained that the mattress cover was easier to put on if we had someone to help. He asked for a volunteer to help. He placed the covered mattress on the cot. One of the sheets was used to cover the mattress. The sheet was stretched tightly and folded in on all sides and folded in neatly at the four corners of the cot. The remaining sheet was placed on the cot about twelve inches from the head of the cot. One olive drab (OD) blanket was placed on the sheet about six inches from the top of the sheet which was folded down. The blanket and sheet were tucked in taut under the mattress. The pillow was placed at the head of the cot. The remaining blanket was folded neatly and placed at the foot of the cot. He took a quarter out of his pocket and dropped it on the center of the cot. The quarter bounced about three times on the taut blanket. That was a properly made bed. He said if the quarter bounced off the cot to the floor, it would impress an inspecting officer.

In the barrack we were assigned to cots alphabetically. He went on to explain that the cots were to alternate with the first cot’s head facing the wall. The second cot’s head was to face the aisle. This arrangement was to prevent communicable diseases such as cold or flu from spreading. He ended with a sly remark saying this arrangement also promoted sleep. He said we would go to sleep more quickly because we would not have to smell dirty feet.  After evening chow we got acquainted with other men in the barracks. We hit the sack just before ten. The Charge of Quarters (CQ) turned the lights off.

The next day was Sunday. We went to morning chow. Some went to Chapel for services. The CQ produced a soft ball and a bat for any who wanted to play ball in the vacant field adjacent to the company area. Most stayed close to the company area to become acquainted with the new surroundings. The noon meal was excellent. The evening meal was cold cuts to make sandwiches. The Army was experimenting to make camp life a bit more like home. In the mess hall the tables were set with dishes, knives, forks and spoons. The food was on the table. There were ten men to a table. We could not sit down until ten men were at the table. A lot of rumors were floating around. We were in bed before the CQ turned the lights off.

Just as the next day began to dawn the lights were flicked on by the CQ shouting, “Rise and shine or you will be doing double time.” We dressed quickly, made our beds, and fell out for roll call. The Top Kick shouted for the First Platoon to report. When the 3rd Platoon was called to report, Sergeant Bailey shouted, “All present and accounted for.” We had our first police call. We formed on the street in a single line almost shoulder to shoulder and were instructed to walk straight ahead and pick up any trash, paper, match sticks, broom straws, mop strings, and cigarette butts that had not been field stripped. Later we were taught how to field strip a cigarette. When we finished smoking a cigarette, we were told to hold it upright and flip the burning tobacco out with the index finger.  We were then supposed to split the paper holding it lengthwise, take the remaining tobacco out, and spread it on the ground. The cigarette paper was then rolled up into a tight ball and thrown down.

After chow we went back to the barracks. When the PA system sounded, “Fall out for formation,” we sauntered out of the barracks. The Platoon Sergeant chewed us out. “When we say, ‘fall in,’ you don’t move like a bunch of old men. When I shout, you move at lightning speed.”  We were sent back to the barracks to wait for the shout, “Fall in.” Again we jumped and ran and got in formation. He was not satisfied with our performance, so it was back inside the barracks. As we ran we could hear him shouting remarks. When he shouted, we ran at break neck speed to get in formation. We could tell he was not satisfied. He explained some basic commands and our response to them. He demonstrated right face, left face, about face, attention, forward march, and halt.

We then went to various stations on the post for our reception processing and orientation. The orientation included a tour of Fort Knox. We loaded on trucks and a guide in each truck explained the purpose of the various buildings: Division Headquarters, Post Exchange (PX), post chapels, dispensary, parade field, post hospital, drill field, firing range, misery hill, and the US Bullion Depository which had to be viewed at a distance.

At the first station we received ten dollars "flying ten," for which we had to sign. The next station was records and GI insurance. Jack and Warren said I should take the GI insurance, which cost me six dollars and fifteen cents a month. The policy was made payable to my mother, Mrs. John I. Scott, in case of death. I had an allotment check sent to my mother in the amount of fifty percent of my pay. Jack and Warren did the same thing in World War II. I did not participate in soldiers' deposit or buy bonds.

The next station was to get physical exams, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, height, weight, vision and hearing. Next we went to a large warehouse where we were measured for clothes. I was six foot, weighed one hundred forty pounds, waist size thirty-one inches, inseam thirty-three inches, and shoe size nine and one half. We were issued a duffel bag for carrying our clothes. I was issued five of each: undershirts, shorts, khaki pants, shirts and socks. I was issued one neck tie, one garrison cap, one overseas cap and one belt. I was also issued two pair of pants and two shirts in olive drab wool. In addition, I was issued an overseas cap, one Ike jacket, one wool tie, two pair of wool socks, and one belt. We were issued two pair of combat boots and a pair of low-cut slippers for dress.

We returned to the barracks to sort things out. We were beginning to look a lot like soldiers. The Assistant Platoon Sergeant showed us how to lace up our combat boots, as we were to alternate wearing the boots each day. The way our boots were laced let the Platoon Sergeant see at a glance if we had the right boots on. We then had evening chow. It had been a long day and we hit the sack before the CQ turned the lights off.

The CQ made it seem like a short night when he turned the lights on. We dressed and fell out for roll and police call, and then we ate chow. We made it in record time when we heard, “Fall in.”  We went to a station where we spent considerable time taking a variety of tests. Later we had a vehicle operators test. Last of all we had interviews with Chaplains. Some of the new recruits were missing home. Since I had spent over a year away from home, I had no trouble with home sickness. The Platoon Sergeant said we should mail home anything of value. I mailed my watch, which was a graduation present from my parents, home to my father. Oscar mailed his sweater that he earned playing basketball. We put our old clothes in a dumpster. As we were making our beds that morning, some men were missing part of their flying ten or all of it. Fred Scott between Oscar and me had no money. I looked and so did Oscar. Our flying tens were also gone. They took one man’s billfold which he had received as a graduation present. I am glad that my flying ten bought a toothbrush, toothpaste and a bar of soap before it few away.

The CQ was always on time and the routine was the same: dress, make up the bed, fall out for roll call, police call, chow, and then formation. The Army was very fastidious about neatness, personal hygienic cleanliness, being orderly, uniformity of soldiers, the barracks, mess halls, troops moving, and everything that made up the Army. We were given more preliminary instruction on the basics of drill before going again to our stations. At the first station the Articles of War were read and explained. The lieutenant who was reading and explaining the introduction said that we were to listen for the word jab. When we heard the word jab, everyone was to jab with his elbows the man on either side of him. This occurred when he saw a number of men nodding or going to sleep. Most were listening for jab instead of his lecture on the Articles of War. We went to another station to see orientation films, then aptitude test battery #2 was given. We then had evening chow, showered, and hit the sack as the CQ turned the lights off.

The CQ flipped the lights on and made a few comical comments about it getting late. (It was five o’clock.)  We had roll call, police call, went to chow, and then went back to the barracks and waited for the shout from the Platoon Sergeant. This was our last day of processing. At the first station we were interviewed by classification section. They gave me three choices: Leadership School, Airborne or Transportation Corps. I opted for Airborne if my cousin could join me, as he was not selected for Airborne. We would have to take another physical examination later in our basic training. They approved Oscar to join me for the airborne training.

Light rain was falling as we marched to the dispensary to get our shots. We formed two lines, took off our fatigue shirts, and as we stepped forward to enter the dispensary a medic swabbed mercurochrome on the back of both upper arms. Our names were called in alphabetical order. We stepped forward to the two medics. One on either side gave us an injection in each arm: tetanus and typhoid. Then we proceeded to the next medic for a smallpox vaccination. The medic told me to stand still. He seemed far away and things were becoming dark. As I staggered forward I noticed a GI in a room on a cot who had passed out. I could barely see the light of the doorway at the front entrance of the dispensary. Once I was outside, two GIs helped me down the steps and to a grassy spot where I laid down. My cousin Oscar, whom I could barely hear, shouted, “Sissy.  Can’t you take it, you wimp?” After the last man got his shots, we fell in and marched to a large drill field. I was feeling somewhat better. After close order drill for an hour, we took a ten-minute break. I was over my ordeal.  Oscar, as well as several other GIs, were feeling poorly.  Now it was my turn.  I called to Oscar, “You wimp.  You sissy.  Can’t you take it?” We fell in for another two hours of drill. Back in the company area we were dismissed. We ate chow, showered, and hit the sack. I could tell the typhoid shot was beginning to ache. I did not notice the CQ turn the light off.

Never mind what time it was--the lights come on at 5:00 a.m. and we fell out for roll call. Fortunately no one has been injured or killed so far as we dashed out and down the steps to formation, roll call, police call and then were dismissed for chow. One man was AWOL (Absent Without Leave). After chow we had drill, physical training (PT), and close order drill going through basic commands. Two West Point cadets were with us for two weeks of training, giving us commands for close order drill. They were a sorry lot when it came to drilling. They lacked snap in their commands and calling cadence.

A rumor spread that we were going to have a GI party in our barracks. We were guessing what that would be. We left the drill field just in time for evening chow. We could not wait for the party to begin. First of all we had to carry all our cots, foot lockers, and shoes out. Nothing was to remain in the building. Then the party began. Two men carried in a trashcan of water and dumped it on the floor. Brooms were produced to scatter the water all around and into the corners. Scrub brushes and Octagon soap were brought in and we got on our hands and knees to scrub the floor. Then the two men carried more trashcans of water and dumped the contents on the floor, which we then swept out. We were then given mops to mop up the rest of the water. We carried everything back in and hit the sack. We were tired. The next day we were to have our weekly inspection. We finished just in time for the CQ to turn the light off.

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Areas of Training

Close Order Drill

Our basic training consisted of the following areas: Close Order Drill, Kitchen Police (KP), and M1 Rifles.  We spent a lot of time on close order drill in executing the commands with precision. I had much of this when I was in school during the war years, but now with cadre who knew how to bring a platoon to attention and possessed the skill in such a way that we could execute the commands with unison. Not many soldiers had this innate ability to be a Drill Sergeant. Close order drill was necessary for us to move from one location to another for instruction, hikes and parades.

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Kitchen Police

We were assigned on a duty roster when and at what time we were scheduled for KP. The CQ tied a towel to the foot of the cot of the soldier who had KP duty. KPs were awakened early by the CQ and they reported to the mess hall. The Mess Sergeant assigned them to various tasks--washing the refrigerator inside and out the first thing every morning. One never knew when there might be an on the spot inspection by an officer. Some KPs were assigned to washing pots and pans or carrying food to the servicing line. Dishes were washed and rinsed in very hot water. Forks, knives and spoons had to be scrubbed, washed, and rinsed in very hot water. A clean mattress cover was secured from the supply room. The silverware was put in a large perforated pan and shaken several times before dumping the silverware in the mattress cover. The mattress cover was tied at the open end and two men--one on either end, would lift the mattress cover up and down to remove the excess water before it was dumped in a large pan. The silverware was too hot to touch. We peeled potatoes by hand, mashed potatoes, and did other assignments in food preparation. Great care was exercised to make sure everything was spotlessly clean. I was plagued with heat rash when I was on KP. When the sun came up I got the red rash breaking out around the waist and on part of my chest.

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M1 Rifles

M1 rifles for which we had to sign were issued to us from the supply room. The cadre instructed us to put our shelter half on the ground and to take our M1s apart. I got the M1 apart, but I could not put all of it together without help from the cadre. We memorized the serial number of our rifle, which we placed in the rifle racks, and they were locked. We had rifle instruction at a training location. The instructor, his demonstrator, and a very large chart that could be seen by all and a replica the exact size of an M1 were on each individual soldier’s table. The demonstrator took the rifle apart following the command of the instructor and we followed, taking the rifle apart piece by piece. The cadre moved among us to give help where needed.

During preliminary rifle instruction, we learned the positions we took in firing the rifle and how to use our slings for each position. The positions included prone, sitting, kneeling, and standing. This was preparatory to the rifle range. At the one thousand inch rifle range, we only fired in the prone position to zero our rifles. They explained at the one thousand inch range that the projectile crossed the line of sight at one thousand inches and crossed the same trajectory at one hundred yards. At a thousand inches we could see our shot pattern. At the rifle range we fired all of the positions at the one hundred, two hundred, three hundred and five hundred yard range. We had to work in the pit to mark and pull targets. We had coaches who lay down at a right angle to us and inserted a sighting device to check how we saw the sight. Later we fired rifle grenades at a suspended mattress. We fired only in the standing positions with our GI towel folded and put in our shirt at the shoulder to buffer the recoil. We were instructed to lean forward, and even at that the recoil drove us backward two or three steps.

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Inspections

We had inspection every week. Some were in the barracks, but most were outside. We had a PT test consisting of pushups, sit-ups, squat jumps, pull-ups, and a timed two hundred yard run. We did the PT on an empty stomach early in the morning. We had several small parades. On completion of basic training we were told we would have a large parade and pass in review. We were instructed how to stand at attention and at parade rest--relaxed, but appear to be rigid. If one stood rigid at these positions it greatly increased the likelihood of passing out.

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Map Reading and Compass Instruction

The use of maps and a compass was very important. We used a compass to orient the map so it was aligned to north--true north, grid north or magnetic north. Instructions were given on how to find one's location on the map by using a compass to shoot an azimuth or of a place seen or not seen using other soldiers or units by radio or telephone to shoot an azimuth to obtain the location. For our final map and compass competency, we were taken by truck to a field location and given a compass and a map. We were divided into teams of three men each. We were given the instructions to the first of six points. Each soldier had a card that had to be checked when he found the point. There another cadre checked the card, then assigned the next point to be found. Needless to say, the cadre at the point did not reveal his position unless he was almost stumbled over. The points were several hundred yards apart. The last truck left at 6:00 p.m. One had to walk back to the company area if he was lost and not on the truck at 6:00 p.m. One had better hope that the other two men in his group was able to read the compass and map to keep from getting lost and having to walk back.

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Guard Duty

One was to look his best when reporting for guard duty. The officer of the day inspected the guard mount. He might ask a lot of questions such as name, serial number, special orders, chain of command, etc. There was a supernumerary, an extra guard, in case someone became ill while on guard. The one who was the neatest and had the best responses to the questions was chosen to be the supernumerary, who was allowed to return to the barracks or stay in the guard house.  He got a full night of sleep. The next day he went to headquarters as a Colonel Orderly for the day. There he ran errands or carried messages for the Colonel. Walking guard on post was or could be monotonous. Some walked the post normally and some walked very slowly. Some walked fast thinking they would finish early. The Sergeant of the Guard determined or let us decide if we were to walk two hours on and four hours off or four hours on and eight hours off.

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Camouflage and Distance

The instructor first gave the importance of camouflage and its use in the military in time of war. At the end of his lecture, he shouted a number and a man stood up about a hundred yards away. No one had noticed him. As he shouted a number, a man stood up. Each one was closer than the last. The last man to stand up was one hundred feet from us. Some may have noticed him.

The last part of this training session was to estimate the distance of five signs painted white with a black letter on each sign from A to E. We were to estimate the distance of each sign in feet. We turned in our results. The ability to estimate distance might be important for special areas of future assignments.

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Laundry

Every Thursday we took any clothing that was soiled and put it in our small laundry bag. We had a rubber stamp issued to mark our clothes with the last four numbers of our serial number prefixed with the first letter of our last name. On the laundry list we put our name, serial number and unit, and marked how many of each item we enclosed. The laundry list was put in the bag. When we came in from training on Friday, we found our clean clothes neatly packaged in the firebreak. No matter how soiled, they were returned spotless. I sent a T-shirt that was used to shine my shoes. It was as clean as the rest of them.

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Marches and Hikes

We had several road marches and hikes, some with full field pack, rifle and helmet. We also had cross country hikes of ten, fifteen, and twenty miles which always culminated up steep “Agony Hill.”  The hill was not long, but we always had to march up Agony Hill in column file after our ten or twenty-mile hikes, which could take five hours or so. We hiked wearing a full field pack that weighed about twenty-five pounds.  In addition, we carried a cartridge belt, bayonet, entrenching tool, first-aid pack, folded-up rain coat, our rifle and helmet. Agony Hill was the last challenge--a further test of one’s endurance. If one had not passed out on the hike, perhaps Agony Hill would take them out. This separated the men from the boys, the strong from the weak. But Agony Hill provided a psychological incentive as it was the last challenge and near the end. We told ourselves, "I think I can, I think I can, I know I can."  I always made it up Agony Hill, but was very exhausted.

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Gas Chamber

One day we marched to the training area for training on the gas mask and the tear gas chamber. We were issued a gas mask upon entering the classroom. The instructor demonstrated and explained the purpose, care, maintenance and how to use the gas mask. After the lecture, we were taken to a bunker-like enclosed, elongated structure with doors on both ends. A brief explanation was given as to what we were to do inside the chamber. Twelve soldiers lined up and we put on our gas mask. When the door opened, we walked in quickly to the table which was occupied by two soldiers. At the table the first soldier ordered us to remove our gas mask and recite our name, rank, and service number. The other soldier checked our name on a roster. We then proceeded to the exit door. All exited at the same time. We were the first group to go through, and there was nothing to it as the room was not filled with tear gas. We exited, took off our gas mask, and began laughing. We were not rubbing our eyes or shedding tears. They made us go through again at the very end when the room was filled with tear gas. When we exited, we took off our mask and started coughing, shedding tears and rubbing our eyes--and no one was laughing. This was a day to remember.

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Discipline

We were disciplined in various ways: restricted to quarters on a weekend or assigned to do work after duty around the company area.  The worst was cleaning the grease trap at the mess hall. The grease trap was a circular pit about three feet wide and five feet deep.  Grease accumulated on the brick lining the pit. A soldier was put in the pit with a container of ice water and an ice pick. The ice cold water hardened the soft grease so it could be chipped off with the ice pick. It was a dirty, stinky, messy job.

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Graduation

At the end of basic training we were shown a film on travel and how to avoid people who might seek to steal our things or pick our pockets in bus terminals or train stations. Our basic training was consummated by a large pass in review where Major General Roderick R. Allen, the General of the Third Armored Division, spoke. We were to report to Fort Benning, Georgia after our ten-day furlough.


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Airborne School

On the train that took us to basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, there was a paratrooper who carried himself with command presence implemented by his uniform and shining boots. We asked him a lot of questions about Airborne training to become a paratrooper. I was greatly enamored with his rhetoric. While in basic training I was selected for Leadership School, Airborne School or the Transportation Corps. I opted for Airborne.

After our ten-day leave at Athens, West Virginia, we arrived in Columbus, Georgia, and were taken by an Army bus to the replacement company, the Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia. The First Sergeant, Sergeant First Class Craig, greeted us and had us assigned to a barrack. The next morning it was still dark when we assembled for reveille. The First Sergeant and two other sergeants were up on a wooden platform for training purposes. He spoke briefly that we needed to get in shape by doing sit-ups, squat jumps and pushups to be in shape for the next five weeks of airborne training. He dropped down on the platform and did fifty pushups at lightning speed. After all, he was the pushup king of the American Army. Then he was upright, not out of breath. He said, “When I shout dismissed, you are to shout, run and scream back to the barracks so as to wake up the airmen personnel at Lawson Field.” He shouted dismissed and we ran shouting and screaming. He shouted, “Fall in” and we had to return to our formation. He said, “When I shout, I want you to not only wake up the airmen, but also Columbus eight miles away.” He shouted, “Dismissed,” and we gave him our best. He shouted, “That’s better.”

While waiting for an airborne company to form for training, we went out on work details to clean buildings, mow or cut grass. One day as we waited for a truck to take us out to work, First Sergeant Craig was sitting on the barracks steps. A tall, lean Corporal was leaning on the banisters with his brightly polished paratrooper boots. About ten of us were lying on the sparsely grass-covered ground. One soldier had purchased a pair of paratrooper boots. The First Sergeant spotted him and asked him if he was a paratrooper. The soldier replied, “No, Sarge, but I am going to be one.” Craig replied, “Paratroopers love to do pushups, and since you are a paratrooper as indicated by your boots, give me twenty-five pushups.” He rolled over and started doing the pushups. We could tell by the quality of the pushups that he was not in shape. He was struggling to do fifteen, and by twenty-two he was exhausted. Craig spoke to the Corporal, “Give that man a little help.” The Corporal went over and stood alongside of the soldier, grasped him by the belt, and picked him up and down until he got to twenty-five. The Corporal counted twenty-three, twenty-four, and on the twenty-fifth he slammed him down on the hard earth. Air was gushing and rushing out of his lungs amid clouds of dust. I didn’t think the soldier would ever breathe again. Craig shouted to him, “Get up, get to the barracks, and get the boots off.  If I catch you with them on again, I will cut the boots off.” The soldier struggled to get up and double time to the barracks to change boots.

We were assigned to the First Platoon, Company E, Airborne Battalion Student Training Regiment (CO E ABN BN STR). The first week was filled with PT and morning and afternoon runs which were increased in duration each day. We had to double time wherever we went except in the break area. The week was filled with glider training and the rope ring where we had to tie knots. The rope ring consisted of iron pipe in sections that formed a circle. The top bar was about eye level and another bar was about two feet below the top bar. Four men were included in a section. The instructor called out a knot and we had to tie the knot. The last section to finish tying the knot had to do ten pushups. We had NCOs all around the rope ring to check our knots. In our section we had a man who could not even tie his shoes. We had to do a lot of pushups because of him.

One group was at the rope rings and the other group was at the gliders. There were twenty gliders and each glider had an instructor who explained the parts of a glider and how to raise it up to load cargo. For training purposes, none of the gliders had any canvas on them. There were four men to a glider who stood beside the glider. When the command was given, two soldiers ran and lifted the tail of the glider up. The other two opened the front door of the glider. A driver drove a jeep into the glider. All four of us tied the jeep securely in twelve places in the glider. Then the door was let down and we ran to our former position. The last group to complete the task had to do ten pushups.

The completion of glider training involved a ride in the glider. We assembled at the air strip at Lawson Field. Several gliders were ahead of us. At last we boarded a glider. The tow rope was attached to the C-119 Box Car and then to our glider. Another tow rope was attached to another glider to the right rear of us some distance away. The C-119 took off and the tow rope stretched and gave us a jolt forward a few feet. Soon we were moving quickly as the C-119 became airborne. We were laughing and talking, enjoying every minute of the ride. I watched as the man in the right cockpit reached for the release lever. In a few seconds he pulled the release and the glider nosed up, then fell into a turn. All of our faces were frozen with various expressions. When we pulled out, we settled into the canvas seats. As we approached the runway, he banked sharply and made a perfect landing.

The second week we moved to a new location which involved jumping from the thirty-four foot tower, learning to deflate the chute that the wind machine inflated and drew one along, jumping off a three-foot platform onto a mat to teach one how to land on the ground, running in the morning which now was partway around Lawson Airfield with length increasing daily, physical training in the PT pit, and inspection of shoes and clothing. I put on a pair of combat boots that had been shined to perfection. During morning inspection the Platoon Sergeant looked at my boots and then at my helmet to read my name. He said. “Scott, you will never have any trouble out of me.”

At the training area at noon, we marched into the paved area where each platoon readied itself for the afternoon inspection and run. We were given dress right dress and the toes of our boots were lined up with the embedded cables in the pavement. Ready front was given. We were now standing ramrod stiff looking straight ahead. I was in the back rank, slightly to the left of center in the platoon. I was not sure if my toes were on the cable, so I quickly glanced down and up. The burly Platoon Sergeant shouted, “Give me ten, Soldier.” I felt sorry for the poor guy who had to do the pushups. A second time the Platoon Sergeant shouted, “Give me ten, Soldier.” was at me, I thought. “This is the last time I am telling you to give me ten.” I could see him walking through the first two ranks parting the men until he got to me. After that, I did not know what would happen. I did not move my head--I just rolled my eyes in his direction. He shouted, “You are the man.  Give me ten.” I did an about face and fell to the pavement catching myself with my arms and hands, and did ten. I then popped back up into position. We went out for our run and the Platoon Sergeant ran alongside of me most of the way on the run, which was long, taxing, and excruciating. He thought he would catch me out of step. I made sure that did not happen. I wondered, did he not remember his remarks this morning?

Paratrooper training involved greater physical training, and acting on commands without thinking was for our success and welfare in becoming a paratrooper. I had no problem doing the physical training of running, doing pushups or acting on command without thinking, but the talk in the barracks at night listening to men like me or men who had several years in the Army convinced me that the Airborne was a dead-end unit.  Rank would be slow in an elite unit. Being disillusioned with the uniform and boots, I decided that this was not for me as I did not want to be locked into an elite unit stationed in Fort Bragg, Fort Campbell or Fort Benning.

No one quit in our platoon the first week of airborne training--which may have been a first in the Airborne School, as many often dropped out the first week. Oscar and I both thought about quitting, but at different times. When one of us wanted to quit, we talked the other into staying.  I am not sure exactly why Oscar wanted to quit, but at noon chow one day in October 1949, on the spur of the moment we both decided we would quit at the same time. He told me to refuse to jump out of the thirty-four foot tower and he would do the same. He was about two men behind me in the tower. I refused and had to report to Major Leroy Strong, who talked to me about staying.  I insisted that I wanted to quit, so I was drummed out. He said, “Winners never quit, quitters never win.” Oscar and I were sent to Twelfth Company to await a transfer to another unit.

Jimmy D. Smith entered Airborne School with us out of Basic Training. I lost contact with him until August 1951 when I was on the USS Pope along with over 4,000 troops returning from Korea. I saw Jimmy and I asked him what outfit he was with in Korea. He mentioned a field artillery unit. I thought he was in the 187th Airborne. He said in the fourth week of training he broke both legs when he dropped from the 250-foot tower. He spent considerable time in the hospital and was disqualified for airborne training.

I often look back and wonder if I would have been better off in Korea had I completed Airborne School, as Airborne troops do not pull front line duty that much. In retrospect I got to travel outside the United States and I was a Sergeant First Class at twenty years of age.

Within a year after his discharge, Oscar re-enlisted and got his rank back as a Sergeant First Class. He entered Airborne School again, but quit in the third week. However, Oscar made a career out of the Army, serving twenty-two years as a Master Sergeant. He served fourteen years in Germany and died there in 1972.


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12th Armored Infantry Battalion

We stayed in the 12th Company about twelve days waiting for our transfer. While waiting we were assigned to work detail which included mowing grass, cleaning officer’s mess hall, cleaning up Victory Lodge where officers held their parties and general clean up. When there were ten to twelve guys, we shipped out to Camp Hood, Texas, arriving there by train. We had five days to get from Fort Benning, Georgia to Camp Hood, Texas, and that allowed us to spend two days in Houston, Texas. None of us had any money, so we were not able to do much in Houston.

After the layover for two days in Houston, we were finally all together again and we boarded the train to Killeen, a small Texas town. From the train station we were taken by an Army bus to a Replacement Company at Camp Hood, which was a vast, sprawling post--home of the Second Armored Division of World War II fame. At the Replacement Company, we were assigned to the 12th Armored Infantry Battalion. Oscar was assigned to B Company and I was assigned to A Company. His barrack was across the firebreak. This was the first time we had been separated since enlisting.

We arrived at Camp Hood at the close of a training cycle which culminated at year’s end. We were in the field on maneuvers five days a week on battalion and division field exercises involving half tracts and tanks. We made moves at night seeking the aggressor forces.  They were few in number, but it was a plus if one captured any of the aggressors. We made river crossings across Cow House Creek, which was dry at this time of year. We carried the engineering boats down to the creek, carried the boats across the creek, and pursued the aggressors. This was high-level planning for officers and involved company and battalion size units training with artillery, tanks and infantry. At the close of the week they assembled all the infantry, tank and artillery in an area for critique of the week’s operation. Sometimes we were given a clip of M1 ammo to fire into the vast Texas landscape.

The Leadership School was started at Camp Hood, Texas at the beginning of 1950 with the mission of training and developing potential Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) of the division. The Commandant of the Leadership School was Major LeRoy Strong, who had transferred from the Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. The exemplary cadre who had expertise in certain areas was selected from available NCOs and officers of the Second Armored Division. Many of them had combat experience during World War II, which added greatly to the program. The cadre served as presenters and coaches for the candidates of the school.

The candidates were selected from units on the post who possessed the potential of becoming NCOs. We were housed in barracks that had been modified to single rooms similar to NCO rooms in regular barracks. There was one soldier to a room, and he was responsible for its physical appearance. A rumor had surfaced that the top four candidates of the school would be promoted to Corporal, an incentive for us to buck for the top spot.

The Leadership School stressed the theoretical aspect of military science, and then each candidate had to translate this into a practical situation that in many cases had no correct answer--just solutions that were either poor, good, better and best. Cadre evaluated and reported each outcome. We were taught to: 1. Make an estimation of the situation. 2. Seek a solution. 3. Take a course of action.

Every three days a duty roster was posted on the bulletin board. The duty roster listed all the positions of the company and the man who would perform the assigned duty. The positions were Squad Leader, Assistant Squad Leader, Platoon Guide, Platoon Sergeant, Assistant Platoon Sergeant, First Sergeant, Field First Sergeant, Platoon Leader, and Captain--the Company Commander. At the end of three days a new duty roster was posted.

One day we were standing in formation after noon chow waiting orders to move out to our training session. The Commandant of the school came and announced that he wanted to speak with Charles Scott. There were two Charles Scotts in the school. We both spoke up, “Here.” The other Charles Scott was in another platoon. I had no idea why he wanted to see us. He went to the other platoon, but it was not the Charles Scott he wanted to see. So he proceeded to our platoon. When he arrived at the rear of our platoon I fell out, approached him, came to attention, saluted him, and announced, “Sir, I am Charles Scott.” He said, “At ease, Soldier.” I relaxed. He said, “Soldier, you are in the wrong outfit.”  My mind started spinning around searching for a quick answer before his words were out of his mouth.  Am I in the A Company, 41st AIB? No. “Sir, I am in A Company 12 AIB.” He said, “You were in the Airborne Training School at Fort Benning, Georgia some months ago.” I replied, “Yes, Sir.” I wondered if he had come to Camp Hood to drum me out of Leadership School. He made a few more comments before leaving. I fell in formation. This was the Major whom I had stood before on the day I quit the Airborne School--the one who tried to talk me into staying.  I wondered why and how he could remember me in this man’s Army.  How I could ever forget him still lingers with me to this day. A cadre who was from the 12th AIB told me that I was one of the top four men in the school. He also related to me that Major Strong argued for me to come in first place, but a Corporal was selected, therefore I came in second place.


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War Breaks Out

On 25 June 1950, the North Korean People’s Army (The NKPA or the In Min Gun) made an incursion into the Republic of Korea. Corporal Paul Halliday, who had just returned to the States from duty in Korea and Japan, thought it was only a rice raid and would end shortly. However, in hours it proved to be more than a rice raid incursion. It turned out to be well-planned, well-executed, well-equipped, and well-timed.  North Korea had well-trained and dedicated soldiers bent on conquering the Republic of Korea, and this resulted in the Korean War and an incursion into my life of epic proportions that was to forever change my life, as well as the destiny of others.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I paid attention to the seconds, minutes, and hours that made up the day mentally and physically, jotting very terse notes in a small book (3/8” x 2 3/4” x 4”), on bits of paper, and in letters to document that I had, like the Bible's Joshua, to be admonished to “Be strong and of good courage.” (Joshua 1:6a) “That ye may know the way by which ye must go. For you have not passed this way heretofore.” (Joshua 3:4b)  I documented not that others might forget, but lest I should forget the men of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.

After three years, two months, and twenty-two days of service, I was discharged from the Army’s 1st Officer Candidate Regiment, The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia on 22 August 1952. In relating my experiences to others, some encouraged me to write about my experience during the Korean War. By 1953 I was collecting and collating some of the events during the Korean War. I found that writing provided both therapy and an opportunity to develop my dormant cursive writing skills. I admired Paul Blanton of the platoon for his cursive writing skills. Also, I was eager to write about the first 100 days in the Pusan Perimeter when our backs were pinned to the wall and we were filled with excitement. I first wrote about battles and events, but later sought to portray it day by day, though many of the days were boring. I started writing the first 100 days in a spiral daily planner published by a college yearbook company, but later revised and copied into three-ring notebooks.  I then refined and copied my writing to legal pads.  Later my wife Janet corrected my English and organized the content, as did my daughter, Stella, who also typed the first 100 days in a more readable format. My daughter Ruth Ann continued the work with Lynnita Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Korean War Educator. All of this helped me to retain and refresh my memory of the unforgettable men of the 1st Platoon.  Some I only knew by their nickname (Frenchie, Hank, Pappy, Cookie), or for only a short time. Some were not there long enough for me to even remember their name or face.

For several years the writings were put aside as the cares of this life took priority and demanded my time. Several of my experiences that I have written have been published in various publications. The following is how I perceived the action as a rifleman in a rifle squad in a rifle platoon.

Day 1 – Sunday 25 June 1950

The morning calm was interrupted by an incursion of footsteps in the distance about 4:00 a.m. as I walked guard on Post No. 4 in the woven wire enclosed motor pool. With some difficulty I could make out two shadowy figures in the darkness. I shouted, “Halt, who’s there?” The reverberating reply was, “Corporal of the Guard.” I ordered him to advance to be recognized. Corporal Halliday, the Corporal of the Guard, came forward. After being recognized, the Officer of the Day (OD) joined us. They were making their last round of checking the guards on post. The OD asked several questions before leaving. The sound of a train floated across the great expanse as it rumbled along the tracks of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad racing into infinity. The faint glow of the rising sun on the distant horizon revealed the motor pool, consisting of the check point entrance, guard shack, guard house, oversized garages, concrete parking aprons, and gravel parking area. The enclosed motor pool was the home of the Jeeps, staff cars, halftracks, trucks, weapons carriers, wreckers, and other vehicles of the 12th Armored Infantry Battalion, 2nd Armored Division of WWII fame.

In November 1949 I was transferred from 12th Company, Fort Benning, Georgia to Camp Hood, Texas, and assigned to A Company, 12th Armored Infantry Battalion (AIB). The lineage of the 12th AIB dates from 26 March 1946 due to reorganization of G Company, 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, Regular Army, which had its beginning on 20 June 1917 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and saw action with the 10th Infantry Division in WWI. In WWII, the 41st Infantry Regiment was redesignated Armored Infantry Regiment on 15 July 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and assigned to the 2nd Armored Division. The 41st saw action in Algeria – French Morocco (with Arrowhead), Sicily (with Arrowhead) Normandy, France, Rhineland, Ardennes, Alsace and Central Europe. The 41st received the Presidential Unit Citation, French Croix de Guerre and Belgian Fourragere for action in the Battle of the Bulge.

To pass the time away, most of the off-duty hours in the guard house were spent sleeping, reading, writing letters, playing cards, and swapping stories or listening to the old timers tell about Army life until going back on guard. During the summer months the guard house was very uncomfortable due to the heat and humidity making restful sleep almost impossible.  To say the least, it was not much better in the winter months. Tattoo sounded out across the wide Texas expanse soon to be followed by Taps.

Day 2 – Monday 26 June 1950

The sun had come around again for another day of sweltering heat as the Corporal of the Guard came with other guards from their posts. We marched to the guard house where we secured our rifles in the rifle rack. No guards were posted during the day except at the check point where in and out permits for vehicles were checked. We fell in formation and marched down the road alongside the motor pools on our right; on our left were the cream colored barracks stretched as far as the eye could see. After arriving at the company area, we were dismissed. I went to my barracks to collect a few things to take back to the guard house. Most of the men were asleep, not the usual evidence of a Saturday night as it was the end of the month and most of the men were broke. I spoke to one or two men who had dressed for chow.

As I went through the chow line, I joked with Tony S. Rillo, a Staff Sergeant, and Benito Maninang, a Corporal, who were cooks. They were from the Philippines and slept in the NCO room in our barracks. Each had over thirty years of service. Tony gambled but never in our company except to teach some of us how to play. He sent his wife about fifteen hundred dollars each month. Often I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by Benito whistling classical music which floated upstairs from the latrine where he shaved and showered before going to the mess hall. He learned classical music from the Armed Forces Radio Service in the Philippines. AFRS thought the music would elevate the morale of the troops as well as educate them in the arts. Benito was adept at whistling and it was enjoyable.

I got my food and joined some men at a nearby table. Several NCOs were eating at their table. The mess hall was rather quiet. My radio was hanging from a nail which Tony had picked up on his way to the mess hall. Few, if any, were listening to the radio when news broke about the North Korean incursion into South Korea in several places along the 38th parallel. Corporal Halliday, who had joined our platoon recently, had just returned from a tour of duty in South Korea and Japan, having served in the 7th Infantry Division. He said there was nothing to fear as only a few North Korean farmers armed with sickles and pitchforks were causing a little trouble or North Korean soldiers were making a rice raid--a common occurrence which would be over in a few hours. Back at the guard house, the rumor mill had already started and I was one of many who was encouraged at the prospect of leaving Fort Hood for a change and a challenge. I had been in the Army just over a year.

Day 3 – Tuesday 27 June 1950

The sun seemed to be synchronized with the Charge of Quarters (CQ) as we were awakened by his shout to rise and shine. Going back to the grind of our training cycle, I was tired and sleepy after our tour of guard duty. When I arrived in Camp Hood last November, the division was completing a training cycle with most of the time being spent in the field on division level problems involving infantry, tank and artillery units. We made river crossings by carrying the assault boats across Cow House Creek and then continued the attack. There was seldom any water in Cow House Creek at that time of year. At the close of each week of maneuvers, we had to listen to a critique of the week’s operation which, for the most part, concerned the officers. Sometimes we were given two clips of ammunition for a live firing exercise. We were warned to not shoot any of the stray cattle that wandered on the post from nearby ranches, but we always had one or more poor marksmen who hit a cow. We were always glad to be back in the barracks on Friday night for a shower and a good night’s sleep.

On Saturday, we had a half day of duty at the motor pool, washing our halftracks and wiping them down with rags soaked in used motor oil and gasoline to make them shine. The three machine guns (a light .30, a water-cooled .30 and a .50 caliber) were all cleaned, field stripped and placed on a shelter half in front of our halftracks for inspection. On command we all fell into rank for inspection with our M1 rifles. An officer from Battalion made the inspection.

Life was a little easier after we started a new training cycle – Basic Training all over again with close order drill, squad formations, the Preliminary Rifle Instruction (PRI) circle and the rifle range. Due to cutbacks in military spending, we were not able to make an invasion of Puerto Rico with other Army units. Some said the cost of moving the 2nd Armored Division from Camp Hood to a port such as Galveston would bankrupt the Army. Due to the cutbacks in military spending, a former Major from Battalion Headquarters came to the mess hall at coffee break wearing Master Sergeant stripes. He said he had the option of leaving the Army or returning to his permanent rank. Many of us wondered if Captain Henry, our Company Commander, would face the same situation.

Day 4 – Wednesday 28 June 1950

After rising at 4:45 a.m., we continued our training cycle, but, due to a heat advisory, we started at 6:00 a.m. We trained until noon chow and spent the afternoon in the barracks cleaning and caring for our equipment. There was still no excitement on the part of the Army as to gearing up for war, but a lot of us young bucks were excited about the prospects of getting out of Fort Hood. We listened to the news of North Korea’s expansion into South Korea in the evenings.

We enjoyed sitting on the barracks steps facing the firebreak and hearing the old soldiers tell of their service in distant parts of the world. Many of these old timers joined the Army in the early 1920’s. A young soldier who had just returned from a tour of duty in Hawaii was running his mouth about his being in Hawaii as though no one else had ever served there. Sergeant First Class Cutwright, one of the squad leaders in our platoon, had fought with the 2nd Infantry Division in WWII in Europe. He asked an old Corporal (who had retired, but could not adjust to civilian life and had reenlisted) about his many years of duty. The Corporal said his first tour of duty in Hawaii was in 1927. He went on to say that once a year they had a forced march around the island carrying a full field pack, which took about a week. He said his last assignment in Hawaii was at Schofield Barracks with the 35th Infantry when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He was a member of the platoon that Sergeant Smith had taken to form a defense perimeter on Barbers Point, and they were the first to fire on the attacking Japanese planes. He had served with the 35th Infantry in the Far East during WWII. We heard no more from the boy who had a tour of duty in Hawaii. I remember Sergeant Cutwright said that a well-disciplined rifle platoon, if positioned and dug in properly, could hold off a company size attack.

Day 5 – Thursday 29 June 1950

Although there was a beautiful sunrise, training started at 6:00 a.m. When we went to noon chow, we noticed that someone had put an air navigation map on the bulletin board in the mess hall showing the progress of the North Korean invasion. The main thrust, which was the Uijongbu Corridor, Ongjin Peninsula on the west coast, and Kaesong, were marked on the map which we studied with interest. The person plotting the map was a little behind the curve when we got a news report on the radio. Some of us lingered around the map before going through the chow line. After chow we went to our barracks to clean equipment. We had a break for a Troop Information and Education (TI&E) lecture presented by an officer who was not well prepared on the subject. He showed little interest in presenting the subject, knowing that the men who would be listening would show less interest--except for one man who was an avowed communist. He was well read in his doctrine and had the ability to convey what he believed, but no one listened to him either. The day passed quickly. A lot of rumors were floating around. We wanted to leave Fort Hood as we listened and evaluated – Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 6 – Friday 30 June 1950

The mercury in the thermometer climbed up the column almost as quickly as the sun rose. The news was more to our liking and we continued training, though President Truman authorized the use of ground troops to be sent to Korea. The Air Force had already been in action and many Americans were evacuated from Seoul. The 24th Infantry Division had been alerted, so chances seemed good for some of us to be sent as replacements to Japan. We knocked off training at noon due to the heat advisory and spent the afternoon in the barracks. To satisfy my curiosity, I took my M1 apart and put the small parts in my helmet. I had a buddy blindfold me and I found it quite simple to reassemble my rifle. We had so much involvement with the M1 in Basic Training and more here so that it was no challenge. We kept asking each other, “When are you shipping out?” Tattoo - - - Taps - - - another day finished.

Day 7 – Saturday 01 July 1950

The sun rose as usual, but this was the day the eagle would fly. The CQ awakened us with:

Tick tock, tick tock, it’s four o’clock,
Hop, Hop, grab your socks,
It’s getting late to start the Army day,
Hey, Hey the eagle flies today. Hooray, Hooray.

“Happy is the day when the Army gets its pay,”--which was true back in my little hometown of Athens, West Virginia, when the Army Air Force cadets were in training at Concord College under the direction of Bob “Killer” Kyle. If you were riding back from Princeton on the 9:30 a.m. Tri-city Traction bus, the cadets would be singing various songs whether it was payday or not. I remember the cadets drilling early in the morning, taking PT and cross country runs near our home. They went to Princeton for their flight training. Some days we could hear the bugle calls that marked the beginning and close of their day.

I think the duty roster had been planned for me to be on KP on payday. We lined up for pay and Captain Rex T. Henry was typical of the old Army as he rolled his own cigarettes out of Bull Durham, Country Gentleman, Stud, Bugler or Golden Grain as he counted out our pay. The first one to be paid was given a dollar and instructed to go to the PX to buy two packs of cigarettes, one for the Captain and one for the soldier who was to keep the change. For a Private, that was almost a half-day’s pay.

We heard that the 1st Battalion of the 21st Infantry was being sent to Korea from Japan. Lt. Col. Charles Smith, the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, was a Sergeant when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and led D Company, 35th Infantry Regiment to set up defense positions and were the first to fire upon the invading Japanese. The North Koreans continued to advance into South Korea against light opposition. We were excited about going to Japan, but for now we were to continue on our training cycle. The KPs left the mess hall at 8:20 p.m., and I entered the barracks where several card games were in progress, but I did not stop to play - Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 8 – Sunday 02 July 1950

The sun was on schedule and the day heated up quickly. Although this was Saturday in Fort Hood, it was Sunday in Korea. The North Koreans had made substantial gains into South Korea. This morning we had an inspection. After noon chow many of the men went to town. Our company commander received orders to ship out to an unknown destination. Captain Henry did not have to make the decision whether he would leave the Army or revert back to his permanent rank of Corporal; the decision had been made for him and he left without much fanfare or farewell. He was an excellent CO who appreciated every soldier who did his duty.

Several rumors were about as to how he got a battlefield commission in WWII, but the facts are as follows. During WWII, Corporal Henry was a Forward Observer with the Heavy Mortar Company of the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division fighting on Guadalcanal. The Division Commander, Major General Lawton Collins, visited the Forward Element of the 27th Infantry Regiment where Corporal Henry was in action, wearing no stripes on his shirt. General Collins picked up Corporal Henry’s field glasses and studied the terrain for possible targets. General Collins said, “Captain, I have a target. Give me a couple of rounds on the clump of trees below the crest on the distant ridge.” Corporal Henry replied, “Yes, Sir,” giving a fire order as he cranked the portable field telephone, “Two rounds on the way, Sir.” A few seconds later the two rounds made a direct hit on a concealed Japanese ammunition dump. General Collins remarked, “Good shooting, Captain” and requested two additional rounds on another target in a ravine. As he cranked the field telephone, he called in the fire order and replied, “Two rounds on the way, Sir, and I am not a Captain.” The two rounds of high explosives found their mark which General Collins requested. General Collins said, “Excellent shooting, Lieutenant.” Corporal Henry replied, “Sir, I am only a Corporal.” General Collins was astonished that he was only a Corporal and asked, “Corporal, what is your name and serial number?” He wrote them on a piece of paper and remarked that, “With such accuracy of the rounds, you should be a Lieutenant.” The next day Corporal Henry was wearing the gold bar of a Second Lieutenant.

The United Nations called for military aid to South Korea. The heat had been sweltering the past few days, so it was impossible to get a good night’s sleep - Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 9 – Monday 03 July 1950

The sun was a little higher up from the horizon as a few of us sauntered over to the mess hall to eat morning chow. On Sunday morning, chow was served later. Noon chow and evening chow were served at normal times. Evening chow on Sunday consisted of cold cuts. Very few men ate morning chow on Sunday, as they would rather sleep in and fewer go to Chapel on Post.  Only Joe Boydstun from Oklahoma City went to a Southern Baptist Church in Killeen. At one time, he was a PT Instructor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  While he was in high school, he played football for Oklahoma City, though his home was in Caddo, Oklahoma. Joe had an excellent physique at one hundred ninety eight pounds.  No doubt the high school football coach was glad to have him as a fullback. His brother Frank was an All American who played for Baylor University. Joe and several others were to be discharged, but they extended their enlistment to go to Korea. Joe’s brother, who was a pilot in WWII, was shot down over New Guinea. He had flown eighty-four missions before his death. Another brother was wounded in Italy.

There was a bit of excitement and rumors were floating about. All training exercises were suspended. The rumor was that tomorrow they were to take us to an artillery range to acquaint us with the sound of incoming artillery. Many of the men hit the sack early - Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 10 – Tuesday 04 July 1950

The CQ switched on the lights. We fell out for roll call and each Platoon Sergeant sounded off to the First Sergeant the report, “All present and accounted for.” We lined up for chow. We were all up before the sun made its appearance. The conversations were at an all-time high as rumors were no longer rumors.  The facts created a near panic among us young bucks who wanted to go to Japan or Korea. The fact was that we were going--it was just a matter of when.

We marched to the motor pool where trucks took us to an artillery range. Several rounds would be fired to familiarize us with the sounds of incoming and outgoing artillery shells. We could hear the shells leave the Howitzer tubes and whine as they passed overhead, exploding several hundred yards down range from us. On one firing of several rounds, intended or not, instinct set the WWII soldiers running and ducking for cover as the rest of us stood dumbfounded looking at them in astonishment.  But they knew from past experience what we didn’t know-–there was a short round in the incoming rounds that exploded about one to two hundred yards from us. One of them remarked, “Friendly fire isn’t friendly.” That night back on the barracks steps, we got a good lecture from some of the WWII men about artillery and mortar fire as we sat and listened intently to what they said. We were to have some intensive combat training to prepare us for any eventuality. The CQ turned the lights out - Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 11 – Wednesday 05 July 1950

We always beat the sun up except on Sunday. The CQ switched on the lights and shouted for us to get up and at it. After roll call, we policed the company area as usual and went to chow. At 6:00 a.m. we assembled in full combat gear. We were trucked to the concentration course. We were given instructions as to what to expect, how to move under live machine gun fire, and about various types of explosives. I had heard about the concentration course from my brothers who had it as part of their training in WWII. I, along with others, was crawling along, hugging the earth, rooting out a furrow and following instructions from a loud speaker as commands were barked. A lot of noise from the machine guns and various explosions causing dirt and debris to fall on us made it more realistic. I got a glimpse of Bledsoe, a WWII soldier, up on all fours going at a fast gallop. He had been through the concentration course several times before he saw action in the South Pacific. Rumor had it that he was recommended twice to receive the Medal of Honor and would have received it if he had been killed in action. He always joked that he wanted to wear it, not receive it posthumously.

The concentration course was taxing physically and a bit of a challenge. I enjoyed it. We were trucked back to the company area. A lot of men who were due to be discharged reenlisted or extended for a year. Our Assistant Squad Leader, SFC Rainey, volunteered to go to Korea. I think he saw it as an opportunity to earn a battlefield commission. He had the potential of becoming an officer.

Day 12 – Thursday 06 July 1950

From sun up to sun down our day was filled with activities to prepare us for warfare. We fell out for roll call. The First Sergeant made an announcement that before we could eat chow we had to patronize the dispensary for free immunization shots. When he dismissed us, we ran shouting across the firebreaks to the dispensary a half mile away. The medics were waiting for us. We stripped to the waist as we lined up. Two medics who awaited us as we stepped forward painted both of our upper arms with a lavish amount of mercurochrome and then we proceeded to the next two medics who quickly injected us with tetanus and typhoid in each arm. As we stepped forward, a third medic inoculated us with Jap-B. After putting on our fatigue jackets, we walked back to the company mess hall to eat chow. They would not admit us to the mess hall unless we had mercurochrome on our arms. We continued some of the routine of garrison duty before we attended lectures that had to do with our assignment out of the Zone of the Interior. The day passed quickly. We continued our discussions on the barracks steps with the WWII soldiers. We retired into the barracks, which were stifling hot well after Taps.

Day 13 – Friday 07 July 1950

The sun was up to greet us. Though they suspended the training cycle, the routine of Army life continued--first call, reveille, roll call, police call, chow, and guard duty. Most of the WWII men were NCOs and at that time were not being considered for assignment overseas. I suppose they remained behind to be cadre, except the NCOs who had a special Military Occupation Specialty (MOS).

After evening chow, I walked across the firebreak to the barracks to see my cousin. We had joined the Army on 02 June 1949 and were together until last November. When we arrived at Camp Hood, he was assigned to B Company 12th AIB, so we saw less of each other after arriving at Camp Hood. We talked briefly about the prospects of leaving Fort Hood before I went back to my barracks to write a letter to Dad.  Lights out – Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 14 – Saturday 08 July 1950

The sun rose and promised to provide another hot day, deep in the heart of Texas. We fell out for roll call and were to report to the dental clinic after morning chow. We had to be cleared by the dental clinic before we could pick up our ten-day leave papers. All men who lived east of the Mississippi River would leave today and return to Fort Hood on the 18th.  Those west of the Mississippi would leave on the 18th and report to Camp Stoneman, California on the 28th of July.

After waiting in a long line at the dental clinic, I finally got in for the dental check, had several teeth filled and would later have two teeth extracted--one in the lower left jaw that died when I entered the classroom while attending Leadership School.  It was a quick, violent pain, but by the end of the hour lecture, the pain was almost gone. I tried to not show any signs of pain, but it seemed that with each heartbeat, the pain was so strong that it caused my head to jerk. Since they could not pull the teeth today, I could not be cleared to leave. It was a long tiring day standing in line, but it was worth the trial to leave Fort Hood for some change and adventure. There were not a lot of men in the barracks tonight as more than half were cleared to leave. Tomorrow afternoon I am to report to the hospital dental clinic to have the two teeth extracted – Tattoo - - - Taps.

Day 15 – Sunday 09 July 1950

The sun was up all too quickly. We fell out for roll call and realized the ranks had been reduced because most of the men were en route home. I walked to the hospital dental clinic for my appointment at 1400 hours.  The dentist wasted no time in numbing the two teeth to be pulled. After the teeth were extracted I got my clearance stamped and headed for Personnel to get my leave papers before going to the orderly room to get everything cleared.

After picking up my duffel bag, I headed for the Greyhound Bus Station in Killeen and purchased a round trip ticket to Princeton, West Virginia. I was a bit embarrassed trying to communicate with the numbing and a wad of gauze packed in the sockets to staunch the flow of blood. The sun had done its day’s work and packed up when I boarded the bus, which stopped in Dallas/Fort Worth, where I changed buses. The numbing had abated, but the pain rushed in to take its place. Another GI who was from A Company was on the bus, but I didn’t feel like talking to him.

I got off the bus in Pine Bluff, Arkansas for a cup of coffee. I had been asleep. The pain in my jaw was a bit distressing. At Pine Bluff, a local offered us a drink of moonshine.  The boy from A Company took a swig, but I declined the offer. He had to change buses here in Pine Bluff. I boarded the bus, thankful for the layover. No Tattoo or Taps tonight.


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Home on Leave

The bus seemed to be making good time on Monday 10 July 1950. Shortly after daybreak we crossed the Mississippi River. I had been sleeping on and off since leaving the last layover. My gum and jaw were quite sore, but for the most part the bleeding had stopped. Although I was hungry, I did not feel like eating. After a long day of being jostled back and forth on the bus, I anticipated a rather long layover in Bristol, Tennessee.

Day 17 – Tuesday 11 July 1950

On the bus I slept off and on except when the bus had a layover or rest stops in Memphis, Nashville, and when we arrived in Bristol, Tennessee sometime during the night. I had to catch a bus for Bluefield at 6:45 a.m. After several naps in the station and a few cups of coffee, I went to the gate where the bus was parked for Bluefield and took a seat on the curb. Shortly, people began to gather.  Quite a few women got in front of me nonchalantly and the line became wide as they pushed and jockeyed to be first on. When the driver saw me on the curb, I asked him if this was the bus to Bluefield.  He replied, “Yes.” He struggled to get through the crowd to open the bus door so he could start the engine. Once he had things in order, he opened the door to let people on.  A mad rush ensued--pushing and shoving by both men and women. My mother taught me to be polite and to give way to women and the elderly. There remained quite a number to board the bus when the driver announced that there was no more room so the rest of us would have to catch a later bus. I told the driver politely that I should have been the first one on, having arrived at the gate at 6:00 a.m. I told him that I was en route home from Fort Hood, Texas on a ten-day leave and had to be back to Fort Hood by the 18th to ship to Korea. After explaining my situation to him, I told him he would have to make room for me on the bus. He knew I was dead serious, so he complied with my request.  I had to stand up for a long time.  When a seat was available, a man or woman sailed into it. After arriving in Princeton, I walked to the east end, where I hitched a ride to Athens. Everyone was glad to see me.  We did not go to bed until late.

Day 18 – Wednesday 12 July 1950

After awaking early, I ate breakfast and saw Warren off to work. Mom began to make plans about who I should visit on such a short leave. School was not in session, so I would not see very many of my classmates. After lunch I walked down town and stopped at Roy Beckett’s service station, where I saw one or two of the town loafers. Aunt Cosby sent word that she was planning supper for all of us tomorrow evening. During WWII, I remember when Jack came home on furlough prior to shipping to the South Pacific in 1943; Aunt Cosby prepared a meal for him. Uncle Oliver, at the time, was working away from home in Red Jacket, West Virginia. Junior and Bill had been to Athens and stopped to see Jack on their way home. We left the house about midafternoon to walk to their house in Oxley Hollow, about two miles north of Athens. When Aunt Cosby called us for supper, all of the children--Junior, Bill, Oscar, Lena Ann, Harry, Mary Jane, Jack, Warren, and I squeezed into the dining room, along with Grandmother Scott, for the meal. Aunt Cosby was an excellent cook; everything was made from scratch. She had prepared a lot of food as she knew the four oldest ones were hearty eaters.

I have very fond memories of that day. Now it was my turn, but most of the family had left to work in faraway places. Uncle Oliver died on February 21, 1946. Warren and I stayed up late and discussed my going to Korea. He served in the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division during WWII in Italy, Southern France, Germany and Austria.

Day 19 – Thursday 13 July 1950

Mom thought we should visit Aunt Billie, her sister in Beckley. Aunt Billie married Edgar Larew from Monroe County. Their son Lewis was a Captain in the 39th Engineers Combat Regiment and was killed on 24 April 1944, during the Anzio invasion in Italy. He is buried in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery and Memorial in Nettuno, Italy.

Mom packed a picnic lunch for us to eat on the way. Jack took a day off from work to take us in his car, a Studebaker. We found a wide spot on Flat Top Mountain, where we ate our picnic lunch. Dad took the afternoon off from the Beckley Post Office and joined us at Uncle Ed and Aunt Billie’s. Sally and Ruth were there. Grandmother Christie, who was eighty-five, joined us for the trip. I enjoyed the day with kith and kin and stayed up late to talk with Warren. He was more concerned with incoming artillery shells than small arms fire, which was contrary to my way of thinking. He was wounded by shrapnel during the German shelling in the Allied Invasion of Southern France.

Day 20 – Friday 14 July 1950

Up early. Saw Warren off to work. We enjoyed eating Mom’s breakfast. I loafed around the house until lunch. After lunch I took my Winchester pump rifle with the octagon barrel, given to me by Cousin John Larew, and went to Bennie Oxley’s as planned to groundhog hunt. He had a Stevens single shot rifle he paid six dollars and fifteen cents for several years ago from a mail order catalog. It was an excellent rifle, shot straight and hard. He could drive nails with it. We walked a mile or so down to the old place where they used to live. A nice day to hunt, but the sun in a clear blue sky was quite warm by midafternoon. We didn’t see but a few groundhogs; none within range, but we took a couple of shots without any recognizable success. Their two horses, Fox and Mary, a mare, were grazing nearby. We decided that it was better to ride the horses back to the cow gap instead of walking. Bennie mounted Fox and I mounted Mary and prodded them toward home. Not far from the cow gap he prodded Fox to a full gallop and I did the same. The cow path we were on made a near 90-degree turn near the cow gap. I thought Mary would straighten out the turn, but she didn’t. I had a hard time staying on Mary, but we both arrived at the cow gap and dismounted. We had a great day doing what we used to do many days as small boys. Now I was off to war and Bennie would soon follow.

Day 21 – Saturday 15 July 1950

Warren let me use his car while I was on leave since he had a company car. Time was of the essence since I was determined to return to Fort Hood a day early. Mom thought I should visit buttonhole kin, Robert and Gladys Larew family, on Hans Creek. I had spent a year with the family during my senior year in high school working on the farm with the family. Shortly after lunch I drove over to Red Sulphur, where I turned off the main highway to a dirt road which led to the top of Kibble Hill. The road was narrow with blind curves, some washouts, and ruts. I had many memories of when no one was able to take me to Hans Creek, I would hitchhike from Athens to Princeton, then to Rich Creek, to Peterstown and on to Red Sulphur. I sometimes walked and thumbed from Rich Creek to Peterstown and from Peterstown to Red Sulphur. From Red Sulphur I would walk to Hans Creek.

As I started down Kibble Hill, I stopped on the road, turned off the engine, got out of the car, and paused looking down at the beautiful verdant Hans Creek Valley below. The Larew farm being the neatest and most beautiful of all brought back pleasant memories. I got back in the car and put it in low gear to prolong the descent into the valley and let me revel of the wonderful time I had with this family. They were surprised, but glad to see me. They were busy with the usual farm work. I answered many questions. No doubt Wib and Tully would soon be in the Army. Charles and Julia were quickly growing up.

I once again ate supper with them. Mr. Bob was an excellent farmer and wife Gladys was an extraordinary cook--food raised on the farm. After supper the boys (my buttonhole cousins) and I went to the Mill Dam where we stripped off and took a short swim. A great day concluded. I drove back to Athens before dark and shared the news with them of our buttonhole kin. Warren and I talked until late. He is such a night owl ever since he came back from the WWII in Europe.

Day 22 – Sunday 16 July 1950

When Dad got up I was already awake, so I joined him in the kitchen. He brewed coffee, fried eggs and ham, and made biscuits and gravy for our early breakfast. He was a good cook and had worked on a paint crew along with several other men from Athens. His brother Oliver was boss. Dad painted, but took off early to fix the meals for the men who were batching. After Sunday dinner, Warren and I took Dad to Princeton to catch the Greyhound bus to Beckley. I bid Dad farewell. He wished me well.  We had discussed my going to Korea. He had served with L Company, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division during WWI.

We ate supper. The day had passed quickly. They all hated to see me leave and pleaded with me to stay another day, which I could, but I insisted that I did not want to miss being shipped out with the troops. Mom held up well as we took leave one of another as I picked up my duffel bag and got in the car with Warren. We arrived at the bus terminal in Princeton for me to catch the Greyhound bus for my return to Fort Hood. While Warren and I waited for the bus, we spoke to “Slick”--a black man who operated a shoe shine parlor at the Grand Hotel, the bus terminal, and the court house. He knew our Uncle John Christie, Mother’s brother, who worked in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC as an electrician. The bus was on time. Warren bid me farewell as I boarded the bus. The bus was not crowded. I waved to Warren as we pulled away from the terminal.


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Anticipation

My diary continues.  Arriving back in Fort Hood late at night on Monday 17 July 1950, I made my way to the barracks. Lights were out and men were asleep as I made my way back to my bunk and quietly slipped off my shirt, shoes and pants and crawled into my sack. Before I went to sleep I reviewed the past few days. No Tattoo or Taps.

Day 24 – Tuesday 18 July 1950

The CQ flipped the lights on. I headed to the latrine, showered, shaved and dressed. Not many men in our barracks as those in the West got their leave and were to report at Camp Stoneman, California. I was not the only one to report back in early. No processing today, just the ordinary routine or garrison life. Hit the sack early tonight.

Day 25 – Wednesday 19 July 1950

Morning arrived all too quickly. The CQ turned the lights on. Several, if not all of the men, returned from their leave. We continued to follow the development of the war in Korea along with the Air Navigation Map in the mess hall. We listened to the radio reports. We were way under-strength, but now, with almost half gone, there are a lot of empty bunks. Tomorrow we will start processing for overseas.

Day 26 – Thursday 20 July 1950

The CQ is never late in turning the lights on. Most, if not all, are present and accounted for. We go through the routine of garrison duty--police call, latrine duty and KP duty. Some days are sweltering with heat, but since training has been suspended we continue processing. A lot of men brought back a number of items such as hunting knives, daggers and a variety of pistols, mostly small caliber. I had to look hard to find a knife to buy before I returned to Fort Hood. We compared what each other had. We are another day closer to shipping out to Korea. Lights out. Tattoo followed by Taps.

Day 27 – Friday 21 July 1950

The day begins with the CQ. I am not sure he is even aware of Ending Nautical Twilight (ENT) or Beginning Nautical Twilight (BNT). He sleeps in the orderly room, and it is in his best interest never to goof up. We had to take some shots at the dispensary. Some shots are in a series taken some days or weeks apart. Everything is quiet here at Fort Hood with no halftracks or tanks moving. Rumor has it that a Tank Battalion from Fort Hood is leaving for Korea. Most of us young bucks are eager to ship out. We are another day closer. The CQ turned the lights out.

Day 28 – Saturday 22 July 1950

Up as usual. The normal routine of garrison life continued, though no morning inspection at the motor pool or field exercises. We continue to look at the situation map posted on the wall as we enter the mess hall. The front lines continue to move south to the Taejon area. The lack of individual and crew served weapons did not help the men in the field to stop the onslaught. The Air Force has been a great help to hamper the enemy’s progress. A company roster will be posted to identify the troops and where they will be sent. We expect the roster to be posted any day. We continue to listen to lectures on a variety of subjects from conduct to tanks to psychological warfare.

Day 29 – Sunday 23 July 1950

Sunday is always a slow day and much slower now with so few troops. During the week when we are out on division size field problems, we are taxed mentally and physically as well, as we lack sleep. Most men did not go to breakfast on Sunday and would rather stay in bed to catch up on their sleep. We keep a close eye on the situation map, radio and sometimes newspaper to keep us informed on the situation. It is not likely that some of our NCOs will go to Korea, as they will be used as cadre to train troops. We like to talk with ones who were in WWII. Most of us hit the sack before the CQ turned off the lights.

Day 30 – Monday 24 July 1950

The CQ started our day by flicking the lights on. After formation and morning chow we attended classes on topics pertaining to conduct, the Articles of War, the Geneva Convention, and our responsibility of reflecting a positive image of the United States in a foreign land. We are still studying the map in the mess hall. The enemy employs frontal holding attacks while infiltrating to the rear to set up road blocks or flanking actions. I stayed up late to catch the latest rumors. The CQ turned the lights out.

Day 31 – Tuesday 25 July 1950

The CQ awakened us a bit early this morning. There must be something in the wind. From the roster, Corporal Earl Leidinger and Sergeant Joseph N. H. St Pierre are being sent to Europe. Eight men are being sent to the 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington--two from our platoon, Cpl. Clarence Collins and Glen J. “Pop” Baldwin. Both are WWII vets. About fifty of us are being sent to Camp Stoneman, California, along with our Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant First Class Lee M. Dabney. More lectures and more trips to the dispensary for shots. It has been a busy day with one last look at the situation map at noon. The enemy is driving down the west coast unopposed. Will we be the ones to stop this drive down the west coast? There is an airy expectation and it is creating a lot of rumors, some of which we have heard before. This has been another day of “hurry up and wait.” We are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I got to bed after Tattoo and Taps.


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Bound for Japan

On Wednesday 26 July 1950, the CQ switched the lights on. The big day had arrived and a lot of excitement prevailed. We fell out for roll call. After chow, we returned to our barracks to bid farewell to the men we were leaving behind who wished us well. Sergeant First Class Layne, my squad leader, hated to see me leave. He had proven himself to be an exemplary soldier and squad leader. He served with K Company, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division during WWII, and he knew that some of us would not be coming back. We took our leave one of another, picked up our duffel bags and hiked the short distance to the main road where trucks were lined up waiting to take us to the rail spur on the post. The train was waiting and the 2nd Armored Division Band was on hand, playing military marches. There was not a large crowd to see us off--mostly wives and children who embraced their loved ones, perhaps for the last time, some shedding tears and a few sobbing.

We young bucks were climbing aboard, full of excitement. The train left with a lurch; men were still waving as the train picked up speed and went onto the tracks of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. We started rolling about midmorning, passing through the little Texas town of Lampasas and on to Brownwood, where the train stopped briefly. In Sweetwater we switched to the tracks of the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railroad, passing through Lubbock and on to Clovis, New Mexico. We had made ourselves comfortable and ate our brown bag lunch in the cars as they swayed back and forth, seemingly in concert with the clickety-clack on the rails. Our car had no air conditioning except for the windows, which we kept closed. We ate our evening meal in the chow car, using our own mess kits. In Lubbock we switched to the rails of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Much of the excitement had worn off.  Some read magazines or newspapers, while many went to sleep and others moved about from car to car to catch up on the latest rumors. Daylight faded and night enveloped the vast landscape as I fell asleep.

Day 33 – Thursday 27 July 1950

Most of us slept on and off during the night, always waking when the train stopped. I remember Vaughn, Belen and Gallup. We crossed the Rio Grande River near Belen. Sometime in the darkness we crossed the Colorado River into Arizona and on through Holbrook, Winslow, and Flagstaff. Between Williams and Flagstaff, the train stopped in the middle of nowhere and started backing. They could not have missed the road as it was a single track. From what we could gather from the trainmen and from what we could see, it appeared an Indian woman and some of her children had started to cross the track when their car stalled. She and the children quickly abandoned the car and escaped without injury. The car was a twisted wreck from being hit and tumbling two or three times before it left the tracks. The sign at the crossing read, “This train makes the crossing in eleven seconds whether your car is on the track or not.” The train started moving slowly forward.

Some of us started a game of poker, and while waiting for Gaskins to join us, a hand was dealt. I had everything for a Royal Flush except a king of hearts. I threw away a nine of clubs and could not believe my eyes when I was dealt a king of hearts. There was not much money in the pot, and for that matter there was not much money on the train. Tony, the Filipino cook, had taught us well. I knew I was going against my mother’s wishes and training when I gambled. One of Mother’s uncles was a gambler and had his ups and downs. I wanted to quit several times, but gambling is very addictive. A lot of men read.  Others slept or took in the varied landscapes.  I was one of those who gambled. Gambling is more than just money.  The things you win (watches, radios, rings) are the trophies for pitting your skill against others. Gambling is like a sport or an intellectual endeavor to excel others in acquiring knowledge or whatever.  The money or object one wins are tangible things of success, like grades which could be nothing more than pride or self-esteem. Of course, gambling is a sin.

We descended the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Joaquin Valley of California. We passed through Kingman, Needles, Cadiz and Barstow to Bakersfield, where we switched to the rail lines of the Southern Pacific. The heat was intense and made life miserable inside the rail cars. We had our noon chow as we passed through Fresno.  In Stockton the train stopped briefly. Near the tracks was a plant where raisins were packaged and outside were several workers with their produce. When we shouted for a sample, a man grabbed a case of twenty-four boxes and shoved them through the window to us. There were no wrappers on the individual boxes to indicate the brand, but someone said they were Sun-Maid. What I did not eat, I put in my duffel bag.

Late in the afternoon our destination was in sight as we crept to a halt after traveling some one thousand eight hundred miles since leaving Fort Hood. We were tired and hungry as we picked up our duffel bags and disembarked at Camp Stoneman on the Sacramento River near Pittsburg, California. We were taken by bus to our quarters, but were kept waiting in a firebreak until we ate chow. The sun disappeared and the heat of the day left shortly afterwards. When we got into our barracks about 9:00 p.m., we were issued sheets, pillow cases, and blankets. We were making our beds for a good night’s sleep when the CQ came around and called out names for KP. My name was on the roster. A white piece of cloth was tied to the end of my cot. We had no trouble going to sleep.

Day 34 – Friday 28 July 1950

There was a slight tug on my pillow and the CQ whispered, “It’s time to get up for KP.  Dress and report to the mess hall.” I pulled myself out of bed, dressed, and headed for the mess hall along with some others--a short night for those of us who reported for KP duty. At the mess hall each of the eighty-six who reported for KP duty was assigned a task. I donned a field jacket with some other men and entered the frozen food locker. We carried boxes of frozen food for the noon meal to the cooks and ate our breakfast. When they started feeding morning chow, it was my duty to carry scrambled eggs and bacon to the serving line.  Other men carried different items. After breakfast, we cleaned the serving line and helped wash garbage cans. The day started at 4:30 a.m. and passed quickly. There was no shortage of help. The KP pushers kept us on task. At noon chow it was my duty to carry eggplant and chicken from the cooks to the serving line and then to clean the serving line. This was the largest mess hall I had ever been in or ever hope to be in. The mess hall was in the shape of a cross with eight serving lines. All the cooking facilities were located at the intersection of the cross. Gravy was made in steam kettles that held thirty or forty gallons. We finished up after evening chow doing all the routine of cleaning and getting things ready for tomorrow. We were dismissed by our KP pusher about 8:30 p.m.

I went to the barracks. Most of the men had gone to the PX. I asked Bledsoe for some stationery as he was leaving for the PX. He said it was in a box on the shelf behind his bunk. Bledsoe often spoke about his being written up for a CMH and being an ETO boxing champ in the light heavy weight division, but not many put any stock in what he said. In the stationery box were some photographs with him in the ring with a man flat on his back on the mat. On the back of the photo was written TKO, his name and ETO Champion Light Heavyweight Division. There were several more photographs of his fights, so he was telling the truth. He made rank several times, but always managed to get busted. I don’t ever recall that he gambled. He was an intelligent person, but his ways turned a lot of people off. I wrote a letter home to let them know that I was in Camp Stoneman. My brother Jack shipped out of Camp Stoneman during WWII for New Guinea. I was glad to hit the sack at the close of a long day which started at 4:00 a.m.

Day 35 – Saturday 29 July 1950

The CQ switched on the lights and shouted for us to rise and shine. I was still tired and sleepy from yesterday’s KP duty. We fell out for roll call, proceeded to the mess hall and fell into what appeared to be the shortest chow line. After chow, we had physical exams, short arm inspection for VD and shots – Jap B, Schick, typhoid, typhus and tetanus; some were a repeat of the shots we had in Fort Hood. We had more lectures on military conduct in a foreign county and the Articles of War. In the chow line at noon, I looked at the head count tally as he clicked me; I was number 837. If you multiply that by eight, the number of chow lines, there would be well over six thousand who had already eaten and there were a lot more men behind me who had not eaten. We continued processing all afternoon – "hurry up and wait" was the order of the day.

After we were dismissed for the day, we went to evening chow. Some of the men later went to the PX. I went in search of Ronnie Alvis from Athens who joined the Army some months after I joined. He was stationed at Camp Stoneman and was assigned to the camp fire department unit. He was not on duty at the time so I would try later. The mess hall walls were decorated with wooden plaques about 12x18 inches of the various shoulder patches of divisions in the Far East. The triangular patch of the armored division did not specify what armored division. Bledsoe spoke to me about the 2nd Armored Division not being identified so we penciled the number two (2) in the design. Some rumors have floated around as to when and how they will ship us to The Land of the Morning Calm. Someone in the barracks turned the lights out at 10:00 p.m.

Day 36 – Sunday 30 July 1950

The CQ switched on the lights and shouted for us to, “Get up and get with it.” We made our bunks and fell out for roll call. The First Sergeant in charge announced that after chow, we were to turn in our bedding and reduce the amount of clothing in our duffel bags, not to exceed forty pounds. An order came down for us to assemble in the firebreak. As our names were called we joined a group of forty men to form a packet. I was assigned to a group that had only thirty-six men, commanded by Master Sergeant Strong of B Company, 12th AIB.  His name fit him perfectly – his stature, strength and superb leadership were known throughout Fort Hood. He inspected us once in Leadership School and it was unbelievable how swiftly he could slap an M1 rifle out of one’s hand at inspection arms. The M1 would make one revolution in midair and in a flash he was looking down the barrel which was parallel to the ground at the shoulder level. He must have had a lot of practice to perform such a feat. We were told to be in the firebreak at 2:00 p.m., with bag and baggage.

The spread of food at the mess hall at noon chow was a sight to behold – steak and the full nine yards that go with it. At least five kinds of fruit could be picked up as we left the mess hall. I took an apple and a cluster of grapes. We reported to the firebreak where we boarded civilian buses. We had no idea where we were going, but it was a nice, scenic Sunday afternoon drive. We arrived at the main entrance of Travis Air Force Base and were assigned to barracks. We stood in line to get our sheets, pillow cases and blankets at the supply room. Some of us made up our bunks before going to evening chow. Many of us were surprised that a PFC could go to the NCO Club at Travis. The Army did away with the rank of Buck Sergeant to get a pay raise; my aspiration was to attain the rank of a Buck Sergeant. A Private First Class was equivalent to the rank of Corporal in the Air Force and the Marine Corps. We went to the NCO Club for no other reason than to see what it was like; we had no money to spend. When we returned to our barracks, I went to sleep wondering what was in store.

Day 37 – Monday 31 July 1950

For some reason the sun never arose before the CQ who flipped on the lights. We had just gotten in bed about four hours ago. He shouted for us to get a move on and instructed us to turn in our sheets, pillow, pillow cases and blankets at the supply room. We were to fall in formation in front of the barracks with our duffel bags within the hour as buses would be there to take us to the airstrip. Today had arrived all too soon. We had only about three hours of sleep. We fell out but no buses – “hurry up and wait.” We milled around waiting for the buses to arrive but as the saying goes, “It always takes a little longer than it takes.” The buses arrived. Master Sergeant Strong called out our names from a roster and we proceeded to board the buses when all were accounted for; we arrived at the airstrip expecting to board planes but the Army or Air Force once again proved the old adage, “hurry up and wait.” Most of us sacked out on the sidewalk around the control tower and alongside the road, using our duffel bags as a pillow. Once again we were aroused from sound sleep to be checked off a roster and given our personnel records to be hand-carried to our next duty station. We arrived at the airstrip about 3:00 a.m., according to the control tower clock; it was now 6:00 a.m. The wind was gusting and mixed with a smattering of rain as our packet marched to the airstrip where we were to board a Martin 202 aircraft of California Central Airlines. This aircraft only seated thirty-six, which explained why our packet only had thirty-six men.  I was the last to board; all of the seats had been taken so I took a seat beside John Mogel from Maricopa County, Arizona who occupied the last seat in the rear in front of the door. Mogel was in the 2nd Platoon of A Company, 12th AIB. I was eager and excited. The plane started to vibrate as the pilot started the engines which coughed and sputtered but he slowly nursed them one by one until all four engines arrived at a steady whine. At last, the plane was moving down the apron and onto the runway. Suddenly things smoothed out as we became airborne, headed to our destination Tokyo via Honolulu and Wake Island. This was my first ride in a large plane. I had my first ride at the Princeton Airport and had an Army glider ride in October 1949 at the Airborne School in Fort Benning. As we gained altitude, the dawn of the new day provided a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the California coastline as we left the Zone of the Interior. Joe Boydstun was on the Pan American Double Decker – a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. They were boarding as we taxied for takeoff. This was the first time I had seen the ocean; it was so blue and beautiful with a textured surface of the water created by the waves as they washed ashore. I looked for boats but none were to be found.

Master Sergeant Strong appointed the two of us to distribute the brown bags, which contained our breakfast. After eating, we collected the empty bags and we even had a police call aboard the plane. Our other duty was to be responsible for the life boats in case we had to ditch. The morning passed quickly. We carried our records which provided reading material to pass the time away. At noon, we were detailed to hand out the brown bag lunches. At this point in time, anything tasted good; the chow was definitely not packed at Camp Stoneman. Again and again I read through my records to pass the time away. I was promoted to Private on 16 September 1949 and promoted to Private First Class on 13 March 1950. I kept looking for boats. The beautiful blue water reflected the little facets of light from the sun overhead as we raced along with our shadow on the surface of the water eight thousand feet below. At last, I spotted a ship and then a triad of ships cutting through the water. Someone said they were Navy ships heading for Oahu. Our ears began to react to the change of air pressure as the pilot began his approach to the runway. We got a good view of Pearl Harbor as the pilot banked the plane. A WWII soldier who was in our packet had been stationed at Schofield Barracks when the Japanese made their attack. He pointed out several places of interest on the island. The ground came up quickly to greet us as the tires screeched and a puff of smoke appeared from the tires as the plane lurched slightly and settled to a perfect landing.

We got off the plane, shook the wrinkles out of our clothes and the kinks out of our body which had accumulated after eight hours of flying. As we were met by a guide who took us to the airport restaurant, we passed the men who were heading for the Pan Am Stratocruiser. I waved to Joe and shouted, “You beat us here”; he shouted back, “See you in Tokyo.” Four of us opted to eat at a table outside. We all ordered the same thing, following the suggestion of the waitress. Everything was beautiful. We were being served on enamel tables with a beautiful view of palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze. The food was good except the meat was very tough; it must have been an old water buffalo. We tore the meat apart with forks and spoons as the plates slid around on the enameled table tops and then chewed it as well as we could before swallowing it whole.

I went to the Red Cross where they gave me some stationery. I wrote a hasty note to Dad and Bennie Oxley. When I asked for two stamps to mail the letters, the Red Cross would not provide them. They told me to go to the Salvation Army on the second floor. As I didn’t want to miss my plane, I ran up the steps taking two at a time. The woman behind the counter happily gave me the two air mail stamps I requested and asked if I would like a candy bar – “Who could say no to a ten cent bar of candy?” – I replied, “Yes,” as I hastily put the stamps on the two air letters. I left the letters with her to mail, thanked her and said I must hurry so I would not miss my plane bound for Tokyo with the other men and told her we were going to Korea. She told me to take the box of candy bars for the other men in our packet – what generosity compared to the Red Cross. According to my Dad, who fought with L Company, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division during WWI in France, he said I should support the Salvation Army as they were always helpful in WWI. Jack and Warren both confirmed and commended the Salvation Army but had no praise for the Red Cross during WWII. I thanked her and rushed down the stairs to join my packet.

The plane had been serviced and was waiting for us to board. Once we were airborne, I passed the candy around and announced it was a gift from the Salvation Army. The WWII soldier pointed out the Arizona, Hickam Field, Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and made mention of Wheeler Field and Schofield Barracks that were in the far distance. The island quickly fled from view as the pilot headed in a westerly direction as though he was trying to catch the setting sun which had been our companion all day as we raced along. The sun reached the finish line as it dipped into the scattered clouds that hovered over the distant horizon. The sun’s reflection lingered for some time in the water below. At last, we were encompassed in darkness; we could see neither sky nor sea, only the twinkle of the stars like diamonds in the sky. Men began to be overcome by fatigue, having lived from one high to another throughout the day. Our nervous energy for the past few days was near depletion. I whistled Taps in my mind.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky:
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
'Neath the sun, 'neath the stars, 'neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

Day 38 – Tuesday 01 August 1950

The whine of the engines that induced me to sleep aroused me from my intermittent sleep. The uniform whine of the engines and flames coming out of the exhaust ports intrigued me as they lapped and curled into beautiful configurations created by the prop wash coming over the wing. The night sky was beginning to make room for the rising sun for another race with time. I could only guess at the time as the watch I had won would not run. My ears began to react to the change in air pressure, so I knew that we would soon be landing. The very thought of landing on Wake Island thrilled me to no end. My mind flashed back to the movie, Wake Island, which ended with an explosion. No sign of life or land and flying in the dark all night made me wonder if the pilot might miss the little cluster of islands (Wake, Wilkes and Peale), which was an area of about two by three miles and was 21 feet above sea level.

As we were rapidly descending, the pilot seemed to be flying into the ocean. We caught sight of the landing strip lights lit up like a one-way street in nowhere as the pilot made the final approach to the little citadel that the Marines defended for a while, but were defeated, and surrendered to the Japanese early in the war. The plane was skimming the water when all of a sudden there was a lurch and a rather bumpy ride as the plane settled down on the landing strip. The landscape was only a blurred silhouette against the Pacific Ocean until we came to a stop. Taxiing up the landing strip, the landscape revealed scrub trees reaching a height of 15 to 20 feet dotting the island.

When we got off the plane we were greeted by intense heat loaded with humidity and the roar of the surf beating against the coral reef. We began to stretch and shake the kinks out of our body, having been in the air about 11 hours. The Pan Am Stratocruiser was waiting for takeoff as we boarded the bus. We waved to our comrades on the Pan Am flight.

The bus jostled us over the coral gravel road to the Pan Am facility on Peale Island. The building was of pole construction and of modest dimensions with a wire screen all around the building from the boarded wainscot to the ceiling. The two large oscillating fans mounted on a stand delivered a fresh supply of warm air on each return. Breakfast of powdered eggs, bacon, toast, butter, jam and strong, hot coffee were enough to get us awake. On our way out we left the noise of the fans to the relentless surf pounding the coral reef.

Some of us walked down to Flipper Point where we could see the remains of the seaplane ramp used by the Pan American Clippers prior to WWII. My fourth grade history book, Our America, had a story about Edwin C. Musick and the China Clippers of Pan American World Airways which established the new air route from San Francisco to Manila with stops in Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island and Guam. I was delighted that the Army enabled me to travel part of that route.

We walked back to the bus for our return trip to the airstrip. The bus driver volunteered to serve as a tour guide and gave us the history of Wake as we crossed the bridge from Peale Island to Wake. He pointed out the water tower, camp two of the contractors, and the hospital. In the scrub undergrowth, hundreds of humpback rats scurried to and fro. Further on he pointed out a futile attempt of man to conquer one another when a Japanese landing craft came to grief on the reef during WWII during their invasion of Wake in December 1941, along with other bits of carnage from the war which were slowly rusting away. We kept looking for Japanese fishing buoys which were hand-blown glass spheres of different sizes that were attached to their fishing nets. Often they broke loose from their fishing nets and were carried by ocean currents until they washed upon distant beaches thousands of miles away.

Back at the airstrip, we boarded the plane, leaving behind the roar of the surf, course sand and coral shards. Back on the plane, each engine coughed and sputtered before developing a steady whine. We taxied for takeoff for the final leg of our journey. We appeared to be in a depression with the ocean above us.  Though we were 21 feet above sea level, we were on top of this gigantic ball we call earth. As the pilot gorged the engines with fuel, we gained speed down the bumpy airstrip and became airborne. The last few feet of the landing strip shot past beneath us as the surf washed and foamed against the reef relentlessly. As we gained altitude, the pilot banked the plane on an azimuth to Tokyo, giving us an excellent view of this tiny crossroads of the Pacific made up of a triangular atoll consisting of three small inlets with a curving strand of coral enclosing a small, shallow lagoon of about four square miles – a lovely oasis surrounded by shark-infested water. We were about 2300 miles west of Honolulu and some 2,000 miles southeast of Tokyo. I would like to return to Wake Island some day.

The day, though it became monotonous, passed quickly. A few clouds and air pockets bounced us around a bit and at times we encountered thick clouds so that we could not see the tips of the wings. We ate our brown bag lunches that were issued on Wake. By midafternoon we neared the coastline of Japan. Below we could see through the scattered clouds many small fishing boats. As we approached land, the fishing vessels were more numerous. From his fishing boat, an occasional Japanese stopped tending his nets, stood up on deck, and waved his hand or a piece of cloth as a gesture of goodwill and welcome to Japan as we crossed inland. The pilot announced on the intercom that there was a beautiful view of Mount Fuji on our port side. What a beautiful view of Mount Fuji, a majestic sight soaring some 4,000 feet above us with its snow covered peak – a sight I will never forget.

We flew up Tokyo Bay. I began to yawn to equalize the air pressure in my ears so I could hear as we descended. We were just above the treetop level and had a close view of the houses tightly packed together among the tall pine trees. The tires screeched and the plane lurched as we landed on the tarmac – a total of about 46 hours since we left Travis Air Force Base nearly 6,000 miles behind us. We stood and stretched, grabbed our duffel bags, and started down the ramp to board the waiting buses. A large sign on one of the hangars read, “Welcome to Haneda Airport.”  Small letters at the bottom read, “seven feet below sea level.”

The day was very warm with a deep blue sky and a few scattered clouds floating along with a slight breeze. As we traveled through the narrow streets, it was an intriguing feast for the senses. Everything was on a reduced scale – the architecture, the design, ingenuity, even the people and everything was compressed into the space available with nothing wasted. Fish were drying on wooden racks on the sidewalk in front of shops; children were running, shouting and playing games, and a small boy was relieving himself--urinating in a drainage ditch on the side street.  Vendors and customers were haggling over the price of items. All the sights, sounds and smells were new to me – no scarcity of people.

Out of the city we could see the tall smokestacks with the 1st Cavalry Division patches painted at the top of them. The buses stopped at the large wooden barracks used by the Japanese Army prior to their defeat. These had to have been the largest wooden barracks in the world and rivaled the brick barracks at Fort Benning. I went to evening chow expecting to see Joe Boydstun, but he and others were not to be found. Night closed in and before I dropped off to sleep, my thoughts were filled with all of the wonderful events that I had enjoyed the past few days.

Day 39 – Wednesday 02 August 1950

The CQ turned the lights on. When I went to the mess hall for breakfast, I saw Joe Boydstun. The plane he had arrived in had developed engine trouble and had to return to Wake Island twice to have one of the engines serviced. We drew brand-new M1 rifles that had to be cleaned. The congealed Cosmoline had to be scraped to get the excess off and the remainder was removed with hot scalding water. Cosmoline is a brown, thick wax-like mass applied to firearms to prevent corrosion and is extremely hard to remove.

I had a reaction to the smallpox vaccination, which I think caused a kernel to form under my arm, and I felt a bit feverish. After noon chow, we were taken to the rifle range to zero-in our rifles as a light rain was falling. The rifle range was something else! None of the rifle ranges I had been on would compare with it, though it was built on the similar design as American rifle ranges. It was of superior quality and had more protection from the elements than other rifle ranges I had experienced.  We sighted in our rifles at one, two, and five hundred yards. Each time I pulled the trigger, the shock wave from the recoil made me keenly aware of the kernel which felt about the size of a pecan. Though the pain was severe, I didn’t let on and did not let it interfere with firing.

Back at the barracks we had to pack not more than 40 pounds of our personal belongings (uniforms, underwear, socks, dress shoes, shaving gear, etc.) into our duffel bag. Our name and serial number were stenciled on the bag. We also filled out and attached a card listing the contents. Everything went into the bag except items of combat clothing and any personal belongings that one did not wish to take to Korea. We could claim our duffel bags after the police action which was expected to end in a few days. I felt poorly, but went to the enlisted men’s clubhouse that once was a golf club. It was reported that this was one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. Back at the barracks I was hot and felt feverish. I thought I should go on sick call, but I dared not do that as they might bump me off the roster and I would not be going to The Land of the Morning Calm with my buddies for adventure and excitement.  So I trashed the thought and went off to sleep. I figured that I would feel better in three days.

Day 40 – Thursday 03 August 1950

The CQ shouted for us to get up. After we ate morning chow we made our way to the supply room, where we were issued steel helmets with liners, packs, entrenching tools, canteens, first aid packs, gas masks, grenade pouches, new fatigues, socks, and underwear. What we could not put in our pack had to be put in our duffel bags which were turned in at the supply room for storage. After eating evening chow we formed a single line as we filed into the field house to be tagged with a number. They had written on my tag #25. Joe’s was #24. We realized that we were being assigned to the various divisions in Korea, but they would not change either of our numbers so that we could be in the same division.

We were surprised when Captain Henry made his appearance to see each man who served in A Company, 12th AIB. He was a forward observer with the Heavy Mortar Company of the 27th Infantry Regiment, of the 25th Infantry Division during WWII, having served on Guadalcanal, New Georgia and in the 165 Day Battle for Luzon. I will always remember him as one who was concerned and sympathetic to those who wanted to soldier.  He was so much like the men he commanded, having come up through the ranks.  Captain Henry sought out every man to bid him farewell, knowing full well that some would not return alive having been in combat himself on the front line. We were taken to the train station to board a train and we were trying to settle into the small seats with our equipment as the train pulled out of the station for a port location in southern Japan. We did our best to make ourselves comfortable by piling our packs between the seats. Some of the seats were ripped up from the floor to make more room. We enjoyed the varied landscape in the remaining daylight. When the train stopped in cities, we enjoyed the sights and sounds, interesting people rushing around, music, the shops with lights and lanterns and the chattering of strange voices. I was slowly rocked to sleep by the swinging and swaying of the train.

Day 41 – Friday 04 August 1950

The sun was just beginning to make its appearance when the train stopped. I was already awake and somewhat disjointed due to the contour of my makeshift bed. The cool morning air, though foul, felt good coming through the window into the stuffy car. As we pulled out of the station, orders came through for us to get up. All we had to do to dress was to put on our boots, and many slept with their boots on. A sergeant came through and instructed us on going to the mess car to eat breakfast. When our turn came, we took our mess kits and proceeded over the obstacle course made up of packs and gear that we climbed over as we made our way to the mess car. The doors from one car to another were like everything else – miniaturized. As I stooped down to go through the door to the mess car, the train jerked.  Losing my footing, I hit my head on the top of the very low door opening, knocking me unconscious momentarily. If it had not been for the quick acting GI behind me, I may have fallen between the cars to the rails below. Some of the tunnels were quite long through the mountains and the cars filled with dense smoke and cinders billowing from the coal-fired steam engines.

The journey started in Tokyo through Kawasaki, Shizuoka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Kobe, Kure, Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Moji, Kokura, Yahata, Iizuka, and Saga was consummated in the seaport town of Sasebo – the end of the Nagasaki Hosen Lines. For the most part the trip had been enjoyable and exciting. Though very uncomfortable, we tried every innovative way to make ourselves comfortable. The countryside and villages were carefully manicured, even to the fields under cultivation by a people who were content to improve their surroundings over many centuries. In America we are transient, seeking to improve our surroundings by moving.

We boarded trucks for the last segment of our trip which took us to Camp Mori. The 34th Infantry Regiment was stationed there before shipping out to Korea – not as posh as Camp Drake. We were warned about the moat surrounding the camp. If we fell in the moat and no one was around to pull us out, it was almost certain that we would drown.  We were told that we would not be able to extract ourselves because the rocks used to form the moat were covered with slime below the water, which made it almost impossible to pull one's self out. Besides the slime, the water was highly contaminated.

Those who needed clothing were to report to the supply room. Many took off their clothing issued at Camp Drake and put on new clothing. Boots, shorts, undershirts and fatigues were thrown in the trash cans, where Japanese workers were delighted to haul the booty away to be sold on the streets. We were glad to hit the sack – a comfortable Army cot.


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On to Korea

Day 42 – Saturday 05 August 1950

The CQ shouted, “Get up and get with it.” We went to morning chow and then spent most of the morning loafing, checking our combat gear, and listening to the latest rumors. A Staff Sergeant who fought in WWII was critical of the 34th Infantry Regiment fighting in Korea.  His remarks were directed to a young GI about 19 years old who had been wounded in Korea and was returning to join his outfit.  This had been going on since we left Camp Drake. In the chow line at noon, the Staff Sergeant was at it again.  It came to a head when the 34th Infantry boy started throwing punches at the sergeant, who was about thirty years of age. The fight did not last long, but for a minute I thought it might spread. I, for one, backed the boy from the 34th and would not let his efforts in Korea be insulted by the demeaning remarks of the sergeant.

After chow we were ordered to turn in our bedding. We ate our evening chow and the order came down for us to assemble in the compound. We were taken by truck to the port and boarded a WWII Japanese troop ship manned by a Japanese crew. The ship had recently been used to return Japanese prisoners of war from Russia to Japan.  The ship, for the most part, was dirty with a nasty stench on the hatch side. We were assigned to one of the many large compartments with the standard size rice straw tatami mats. We picked out one of the mats for our bed. There was not much room after putting a helmet, pack and rifle on the mat. When we got a call for chow, I arranged my pack, rifle and helmet to create a sculpture topped with my helmet so when I returned from top side, I could find my piece of real estate.

After chow, most of us stayed up on the deck, as it was much cooler and the air was fresh. This was the first time I had been on a large ship. My dad told me about his experience in WWI on the Magnolia sailing from Norfolk, Virginia on May 26, 1918 and arriving at Brest, France on June 8, 1918. His company stayed on board to unload cargo. My brother Jack told me about his voyage on a Dutch ship from San Francisco to New Guinea in WWII and my brother Warren, who sailed out of Newport News, Virginia, told me about his trip southeast alongside South America, across to Africa and up the coast of Africa to Casablanca.  They took this route because of the German U-boats. Now it was my turn for a new adventure.

They hoisted the anchor and put out to sea just before sunset. Once away from land we were met by two ships; some said they were destroyers. The two ships positioned themselves several hundred yards in front and behind us to escort us to Korea. Poop deck intelligence identified the destroyers as Australian. Both destroyers changed their course every few minutes in a zigzag direction, leaving an interesting wake. On two occasions the destroyer in front dropped depth charges overboard – I suppose for practice. We enjoyed milling around on deck, especially standing on the bow and watching it rise and fall with the swells. We spotted a school of porpoises gliding along; they seemed very playful.

A black soldier from the 24th Infantry Regiment, who had been in the hospital and was returning to his unit in Korea, spotted my wrist watch and asked how much I wanted for the watch. The watch had a green crystal which made it unique and appealing, but it would not run. Before I left Fort Hood, I acquired the watch from another GI who had won it on a punch board, so I figured that it could not be worth much, but I told him it was not for sale. Every time he came around he pestered me about buying the watch. I told him the watch would not run--“The tock had been taken out of the clock.” He was persistent, so I let him have the watch for five American dollars. I also was drawn to the watch for the same reason--the green crystal. He was delighted to get it.

Some of us tried to talk to the Japanese seamen who spoke broken English. They had brought some bootleg whiskey on board with the intent of selling it to GIs, but we did not buy any. The sunset was beautiful and many of its colors were reflected in the wake left by the destroyer in front of us. As darkness engulfed us, we made our way slowly down the hatch to the dimly lighted hallway and stairs to our compartment. The heat, humidity, and horrible stench were stifling. I went to the head (latrine, john or benjo--whatever you want to call it), which consisted of a dozen or so white porcelain squat toilets perhaps eight inches wide and eighteen inches long and protruding above the floor about two inches. Back on the tatami mat, I made myself as comfortable as possible. Some of the men were fast asleep from exhaustion, or perhaps the excitement had worn off. I was wide awake, but gradually the adrenaline slowed and the rise and fall and the gentle roll of the ship lulled me to sleep.

Day 43 – Sunday 06 August 1950

The gentle roll of the ship awakened me as it wallowed in the slight swells in the western waters of the Korean Straight. I pulled my boots on and made my way around, stepping over most of the men who were still asleep. As I made my way up the stairs, a whiff of fresh air was delightful.  On deck the fresh air was invigorating, quite a contrast to the humid stench down in the belly of the ship. A thin layer of fog was lifting to unveil the distant hills and the port city of Pusan. Since June 25 most of us had acquired more than a school boy’s knowledge of Korea. As we neared land, the seagulls circled overhead. Jack told me that an albatross followed them to New Guinea, never leaving the convoy of ships. Several men came up to top side for fresh air.

As we neared the pier I noticed something floating in the water, but could not discern what it was. Things began to come to life aboard the ship. I went to our compartment to get my pack, helmet and rifle. Back on the deck, the crowd increased greatly. I exchanged addresses with Joe Boydstun, whose mother lived in Caddo, Oklahoma. We were sorted out as to our division. Joe’s last words to me were, “Until we meet again, God bless.” I was on the port side of the ship. As we drew near to the pier to dock, the floating object that I could not make out in the distance turned out to be a dead Korean floating up and down in the water face up with a slight kink in his body. We were later told that the dead Korean floating had been shot by a GI who was on guard at the pier three nights ago.

As we debarked down the gangplank, we were given a box of K-rations for breakfast. Jack told me about the K-rations he ate. We were moved to an area of the dock assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, where we waited for transportation. While waiting we started eating our breakfast of K-rations. A lot of Koreans were milling around like a bunch of hungry vultures eager for a crumb to fall. As I was eating a cracker that was rather porous, I thought I saw something crawling on the cracker out of my peripheral vision each time I took a bite of the tasteless cracker. Upon closer examination, I discovered it had been infiltrated by little bugs that had already feasted on the crackers and had left a framework of tunnels, much like the work of termites. I motioned to a Korean who came and took the remainder of the K-rations with great delight as he fended off his fellow peers. I was not hungry enough to eat leftovers.

Trucks started arriving to take us to our various units.  Men waved and shouted to their comrades on departing trucks.  Some we would never see or hear from again. The driver of our truck was a typical driver.  He had trouble finding the gears as we made our way through the narrow twisting streets of Pusan which were never designed or planned for cars, much less for Army trucks or GI truck drivers.

We arrived at the 25th Infantry Division Replacement Company located in a schoolhouse on a hillside overlooking a village which was a part of Masan. After eating our noon chow, we were assigned a place to spend the night in the schoolhouse. Late in the day we were briefed and assigned to one of the three rifle regiments – the 24th, the 27th or the 35th Infantry Regiments. I was tagged for assignment to the 35th Infantry and was assigned as well as some others to guard duty for the night. After evening chow, I walked up the hill with Carlton Hall from Lynchburg, Virginia, who was stationed with D Company, 12th AIB. I had only known him when the 12th AIB had division guard and stockade duty at Fort Hood. We had a good view of the schoolhouse and the village.

Farther along the path up the hill we came upon two small Korean boys who were perhaps five to eight years old.  They had just finished washing up in the spring water that issued out of the hillside. They were laughing and talking just like boys back home who lived in the country who had worked all day in the corn or hayfields before going to the creek to swim and wash. We spoke to them as we walked by, but they were oblivious to our presence and did not acknowledge our existence. When we were higher up, we got a better view of the countryside. We had our rifles with us and the one clip of ammunition that was issued upon our arrival at the replacement company for guard duty. Since I was on guard duty, I appreciated the opportunity to see the lay of the land. My tour of guard duty was from 10:00 p.m. until midnight and again at 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. We were instructed to halt anyone who approached and to shoot if the situation demanded it. At about ten o’clock, the sergeant took us to our posts. I was posted in a shed open on one end along the upper side of the road, not far from the front of the schoolhouse. All went well; though I became concerned once when I heard some noise.  I figured that it was most likely rats, but I also remembered the remarks by the sergeant at the guard briefing that there were lots of communist sympathizers in Masan who supported the North Korean Communist cause. I was glad when the sergeant relieved me and the other men on guard duty so I could try to get some sleep before my next tour of guard duty.


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35th Infantry Regiment

Day 44 – Monday 07 August 1950

The sergeant awakened me at about 3:30 a.m. for my tour of guard from 4:00 a.m. until daylight. I checked my M1 to make sure I had a full clip with no shell in the chamber. I took up my position in the shed. The artillery batteries firing support could be faintly heard in the distance, otherwise, all was quiet. As the day began to dawn, the morning calm was shattered by a gong that was struck several times in the village below. Dead silence followed. Several minutes later the melodious sound of voices softly floated through the air. I recognized some of the tunes were Christian hymns and spiritual songs they were singing – no instrument made by man, but the lovely voices blended together. I suppose the gong sounded to assemble the people.

After morning chow, we were taken by trucks to our assigned regiments. We reached the headquarters of the 35th Infantry, which was located under a concrete bridge in a dry stream bed. We dismounted and ate our noon chow. A sergeant spoke with us briefly, welcoming us to Colonel Fisher’s regiment. After we had formed a single line, the sergeant came down the line and wrote a letter on our tags. He wrote the letter C on my tag and moved to the next man in line. A truck arrived and the driver inquired if we were Fisher’s men. Several of us concurred that we were. He walked down the line and looked at our tags. When he looked at mine he said, “You are going to the best company in the regiment.” On down the line he looked at another tag and said, “You are going to Fox Company. They have only about 40 men left in the company after an enemy night attack several days ago.”

We were ordered to board the truck if we had A, B, C or D on our tag. There were not many who did, but Carlton Hall from Lynchburg, Virginia, Paul Taylor from near Elkins, West Virginia, who had been a driver in D Company, 12th AIB, and I were all three destined for C Company, along with a Sergeant First Class. The sergeant checked us off the roster as we boarded the truck.

The driver drove far too fast for the road conditions, careening around turns and through narrow streets of villages. After ascending a hill, the road became level for some distance alongside the ridge before making a left-hand turn. As we entered the turn, we met a Jeep which the truck driver crowded halfway off the road. Out of the swirling dust trail of the Jeep, a light tank emerged. We all braced ourselves for a collision, but the driver managed to side swipe the tank without losing momentum or control of the truck. Due to heavy trucks loaded with ammo, prime movers and tanks, the roads were pulverized, leaving a few inches of dust which settled like snow on vegetation, shacks, straw fences and leaves on trees. As we passed, a battery of 155’s had just fired a mission. I was intrigued at the large smoke ring forming a perfect doughnut several feet in diameter, expanding as it soared above the tube of the Howitzer. A few miles down the road we reached a large horseshoe turn and wondered how far we were from the front line and if we would ever make it there alive. Just beyond a large village we started up a steep mountain. The driver was kept busy shifting gears as he snaked the truck around the curves on the twisting road. We assumed the driver had been over this road numerous times.

About 300 yards from the top of the mountain, he pulled off the road at the 1st Battalion Command Post located in a shallow ravine. The driver jumped out and told us to stay on the truck. A major walked out to the truck and announced that he needed a Jeep driver. Paul Taylor jumped off the truck and replied, “Sir, I am a Jeep driver.” Paul was an experienced driver. The driver jumped in the truck and we were off to a slow grind to the top. I waved to Paul; he waved back. When we reached the summit, the driver pulled into a wide spot in the road cut; we stayed on the truck. A company runner came from C Company to collect us. He told us to keep our canteen, entrenching tool, grenade pouch, first aid packet and anything in our packs that we could carry in our pockets. As I sorted through my pack contents, he took my fatigues, shorts, socks and undershirt.  He then stripped down on the side of the road and put on all new clothing.  He said that he felt like a million dollars in his new outfit, which was his first change of clothing since leaving Japan about a month ago. He had us take the supply line of our gas mask and cut two of the ribbed sections of the air supply hose to fit around our dog tags so they would not rattle. We gathered up the pack, gas mask and other items and threw them in the road ditch before following him up the hill to the left of the road cut to the command post of C Company. We were greeted by a First Lieutenant who introduced himself as Lieutenant Pannell, Company Commander of C Company. He spoke briefly and instructed us as to the policy of C Company. He said, “We take and hold the high ground, fight as a team, one for all, all for one.  The wounded will be evacuated and the dead recovered.  No man will be left behind.” He added that, "Some men will try to scare you, but form your own opinion as to whether they are telling the truth."  From his comments I was confident he was very demanding and a true leader who could be trusted, one who was in control and would set the standard for the new lifestyle we were to follow – a leader who would be fair and impartial. He assigned three of us (Hall, Wells and me) to the 1st Platoon.  The sergeant was sent to the 3rd Platoon.

We were taken to the 1st Platoon CP by a company runner who shouted, “Pappy, here are three new replacements.” Pappy, the Platoon Sergeant, was a tall, thin man in his late forties – an Old Army man who was soft-spoken.  One could sense that everyone in the platoon regarded him highly. He introduced himself as Sergeant Mills, but said, “Everyone calls me ‘Pappy’ except officials.” He informed us that we would be leaving from The Notch (road cut) shortly. Trucks would take us to our new positions on line. He went on to say the 2nd Battalion had jumped off on the attack that morning at 7:00 a.m., spearheading Task Force Kean. C Company was in reserve, but we would be on line by nightfall in positions overlooking the Nam River. He assigned me to the first squad. The platoon had 17 men, less than half of a full strength rifle platoon of 42 men. The day before, the first squad had just received a new squad leader who had requested to be transferred to a rifle company from serving as mail clerk at regimental headquarters.

Men were busy putting things in order for the move. I noticed that no one was concerned about the enemy; they were a very nonchalant group of men. I was sure the enemy was hiding behind every bush that dotted the mountain. Pappy called for George Milanovich. He told George that I would be his foxhole buddy and he was to assist me in adjusting into life in the 1st Platoon. George provided a brief history of the 35th Infantry since entering combat in Korea on July 25, coming from Otsu, Japan. Due to cutbacks in military appropriations, they were short of men and equipment with only two under-strength battalions in the regiment instead of three. There were no recoilless rifles and no 3.5 bazookas. He said The Notch had been hotly contested by the North Koreans and the 1st Battalion of the 19th Infantry of the 24th Infantry Division a few days ago. The 35th had relieved the 19th Infantry on the 3rd of August. C Company had taken over the positions of B Company, 19th Infantry on the high ground to the left of The Notch.

Word came for us to assemble at The Notch.  Before boarding the trucks we cleared our rifles. As we left The Notch, the sun had just about called it a day and was casting long, tired shadows across the valley and ridges. The road was less steep with fewer curves as we descended the Chinju side of The Notch. After dismounting, we immediately reloaded our rifles and hiked about two miles to our assigned positions on top of a hill. In the remaining twilight we started digging in for the night. Being new and knowing that George was weary and worn, I volunteered to do most of the digging. The earth was dry and hard, making digging difficult, which resulted in blisters on my hands. I took first turn at guard.

Day 45 – Tuesday 08 August 1950

Daylight arrived all too quickly and the rising sun slowly revealed the dense fog covering the valley below with an endless number of mountain tops projecting up through the fog. I found it difficult to sleep on the hard ground in the cramped foxhole. I used my right arm for a pillow. As I looked around the positions, most of the men were asleep, including George. They looked worn and weary from being in combat since arriving in Korea about a month ago. My hands were sore from digging our foxhole last night, causing several blisters on each hand. I went with half of our squad to morning chow at the base of the hill. At all times, I tried to be alert to all that was going on, evaluating everything I saw, heard or smelled, without being or appearing apprehensive. George took me to the ammo trailer to get a combat load of ammunition – ten clips for my cartridge belt and two bandoleers of six clips each (176 rounds total) and three hand grenades. The climb back up the hill with the ammo and grenades was arduous. An order had been received from regiment to send a patrol to reconnoiter the area along the Nam River for possible enemy units, stragglers or infiltrators; the 1st Platoon was to make up a seven-man patrol. I tried not to look surprised when my name was called. Pappy briefed us, and the patrol leader, a Corporal, assigned everyone a position in the column.  I was assigned next to the last man. I stood out like a sore thumb as I was the only clean shaven and in new fatigues.

We left the line of departure, making our way down the ridge through the fog. Once we were below the rising fog, we had a beautiful view of the river, the flood plain and beyond. I was trying to anticipate what might happen when we approached the river. We could hear a lot of small arms, mortar, tank and artillery fire to our far left front – perhaps a company size patrol from our 2nd Battalion operating across the river. At the base of the hill, the first scout started across the flood plain, making his way along one of the many rice paddy dikes that crisscrossed the large rice field in the direction of several thatched roof houses nestled along the river. No one seemed concerned as we neared the river or that the force operating to our left front had turned up the heat as rifle, machine gun and tank fire echoed down the river valley. The first scout stopped and was joined by the Corporal when a woman came from one of the houses, making her way toward us with a small child trailing her. The sun had pierced through the broken clouds creating a pastoral landscape. As they drew near, we could hear the mother of the child calling to us and the little boy of five or seven years of age crying and sobbing as they walked. I could not understand what she was trying to tell us. One of the men spoke back and forth in Japanese. She pointed to the little boy’s left forearm where a small piece of white phosphorus from an exploding shell had landed midway between his wrist and elbow. The wound opening measured about one fourth of an inch in diameter and the wound appeared to have occurred in the past two days. The opening was raw, red, swollen and angry looking around the wound. The little boy never ceased crying and his anguish was manifested to all. One of the men cleaned the wound with water from his canteen and dressed it with gauze from his first aid pack.  It was very upsetting to see the little innocent lad suffer such great unrelenting pain and to have no medical help available. They left and his crying continued until they were out of earshot as we made our way to the river.

Along the river there were lots of recently dug bunkers before Task Force Kean started the offensive.  We looked for evidence as to when the enemy vacated the positions. We continued working our way along the river downstream away from the cluster of houses. The river was rather shallow as it flowed peacefully along toward the Naktong River divided by a few sandbars. The weather was hot and humid, but no hotter than Fort Hood. About a mile downstream, we turned away from the river in the direction of Charlie Company. We were taking a slightly different route back to conform to military policy in case the enemy had planned an ambush. A Filipino had a GI towel he dipped in water wherever he could find it, wrung it out before wiping his face, and then draped it around his neck like a scarf to keep himself cool – not a bad idea. The heat made the climb up the steep finger ridge to our position a challenge as we picked our way up through the shrubs, short pines and bushes that dotted the landscape.  This made Agony Hill in Fort Knox seem like a cakewalk.

The reverberations of the little boy crying still lingered in my ears and the anguish exhibited on his face and the festering wound on his arm were etched in my vision and remained as a constant after image. I was always wondering about his fate. The sun had reached its high mark for the day as we reached the ridge line to join the 1st Platoon. We took a brief rest after eating our noon meal of C-rations and spent the rest of the day improving our positions by digging deeper. Although I was glad to see the sun drop behind the hills, what would be the events of the night?

I took first turn on guard. As I stared into the darkness, listening and observing, I reflected on the day’s patrol. We did not have a radio, so no contact could be made with the company to get information about the little boy who was a casualty and his need for medical treatment. The woman coming to meet us with the little boy raised my suspicions since we were approaching the house she came from. Could she be like Rahab who hid the spies in the book of Joshua? Could she have detained us long enough for them to hide or escape? Not likely. I think the patrol leader should have appointed a man to take the woman back to the company for interrogation and her boy for medical treatment. We did not have an air panel. If the Air Force had discovered us, it would have been terrible. If I had been the patrol leader, my take would have been to ask for a BAR Man for the patrol who would be positioned along with another man near the base of the hill so he could look down on the terrain maybe 300 yards from the river. Two more men would be positioned about 150 yards from the houses and the river along a rice paddy dike for protection. The two scouts and I would move forward and make a search of the houses and bunkers along the river. If we encountered trouble, the five men behind us could provide covering fire for our withdrawal. Maybe the company did not have an air panel, a BAR or a walkie-talkie because we went to war without a lot of equipment. My reasoning was based on the training I had at the Leadership School in Fort Hood, Texas.

Day 46 – Wednesday 09 August 1950

A new day dawned, but the sun was veiled by the dense curtain of fog which was slowly lifting to display a beautiful view of the valley. At midmorning, Pappy chose me to go with Walter McGettigan, a red-headed Scotch-Irish lad, in search of water. We made our way down the hillside carrying two empty five-gallon cans through the scrub bushes to a rather large field interspersed with rice paddies. We walked on the paddy dikes toward a bamboo thicket and a few trees. I was apprehensive as we approached the thicket which concealed a half dozen thatched roof houses and huts, but Walter showed no fear. As we entered the thicket, we were greeted by a few small children and several old people who continued with their daily chores. I felt we were being observed, so I was all eyes and ears. Walter spoke to them in Japanese, “Mesui doko deso” (Water where is).  They walked a few yards to a dug well and lowered a bucket on a rice straw rope to draw water. We quenched our thirst first and filled our canteens while they filled the five-gallon cans. As we left the little oasis, Walter thanked them in Japanese. Two small boys about eight or ten years of age volunteered to carry the five-gallon cans for us. I was astonished how well both of them managed to carry the five-gallon cans up the steep hill in the sweltering heat. We took a break to catch our breath as we were worn out, but the two boys exhibited no fatigue and were most competitive in trying to outdo each other.  Back in the platoon, we rewarded them with praise and C-ration candy. I am sure we did not over-pay them, and I am not sure that they liked the C-ration candy. They left the area running down the hill to their home in the security of the secluded serene oasis. How Walter found the village is a mystery.

The scrub bushes provided very little shade from the heat. We continued to improve our positions. The air strikes were no longer in front of us, but were moving to our far left flank and were farther away. The sun had finished its day’s work and darkness was engulfing the valley and hills. I heard at evening chow the patrol that was sent from the 1st Platoon to the Nam River on another reconnaissance mission was ambushed by the North Koreans.  They had evidently observed us yesterday from across the river and planned the ambush. The four wounded were Pvt-2 George Paihinui, who was shot through the back of the neck just above the seventh vertebra, Pvt. Juan Garza, PFC Alfred Rakes, and Pvt. Bob Stuflick. I didn’t know any of the men. The platoon received three replacements two days ago and lost four today. I took first guard.

Day 47 – Thursday 10 August 1950

The day dawned without any action during the night. We were just marking time.  All activity appeared to have shifted to our left, and we could hear the distant sound of artillery and air strikes. Rumors had it that we were waiting for the 5th Marines, 5th Infantry Regiment, and the 555th Field Artillery to take their objective before linking with our regiment for the final assault on Chinju. Patrols were sent out again to check for possible enemy infiltrations to our rear. We got two hot meals a day and C-rations for our noon meal. My hands were sore and a few new blisters appeared on the old blisters which ruptured. I learned that Staff Sergeant Donald Gary was in B Company. He was our Assistant Squad Leader in A Company, 12th AIB. He said before leaving the States that he hoped to win a battlefield commission.

Korea had a different kind of heat than we experienced in Texas due to the high humidity. The weather put a strain on one’s physical reserves and the day was behind us as the sun dropped behind the ridge line. George took first turn at guard.

Day 48 - Friday 11 August 1950

The sun got an early start in chasing the fog out of the valley. After a peaceful night in our sector except for outgoing mail (our own artillery shells), I was glad to see the fog leave, as it could conceal an enemy attack, but the men in our platoon said the enemy preferred to attack at night. I could see the Nam River in the distance where I saw my first casualty of the war. I kept wondering how he was doing. If I had been in charge of the patrol, I would have brought the boy and his mother back to the Company CP for treatment at the first aid station or by one of our medics, and would have interrogated the mother for information on the enemy in the area which would have been helpful. The men returning from chow heard that the 5th Marines who were advancing on the south road to link up with us at Chinju had faltered. The air strikes kept moving to our left rear. In another day or so, if not already, we would be all alone. There had been no air strikes in front of us or to our left flank and rear. The night air was warm, but it had cooled some by morning. I took first turn at guard.

Day 49 - Saturday 12 August 1950

The first sign of light revealed dense fog. Another night had passed. I wondered what they were doing back home, then I realized that they were most likely getting ready for bed. Mom was no doubt praying for my safety. I went to chow, but I have never liked walking through the grass saturated with dew. They instructed us at chow to start packing and be ready to move off the hill by midmorning--no panic, no rush, just be ready. They ordered us off the hill when trucks arrived.  We cleared our rifles and boarded the trucks. We retraced our route of a few days ago, passing through the notable landmark, The Notch, and into the river valley near the towns of Saga and Haman. We learned that Charlie Company had been selected to serve as a screening force, or fight a rear guard action if necessary, for the 5th Infantry Regiment, the 555th "Triple Nickel" Field Artillery, the 5th Marine Regiment, and other units that came to grief on the south road. We ate our evening chow under the bridge that must have been the 35th Infantry CP.

We were briefed by our Company Commander, Lieutenant Pannell, as to our mission and how we were to be deployed. Trucks, four tanks, and Jeeps arrived. We boarded the trucks and the convoy started up a narrow road twisting through the village of Haman. Some miles down the road we turned off the road onto a road even more narrow and less traveled that led through a shallow mountain pass and descended into the valley. The convoy stopped about 4,000 yards from the east/west road. We dismounted, reloaded our rifles, and the company started digging in on both sides of the road. Our platoon mounted the three tanks and proceeded toward the east/west road. Darkness was filling the valley with long shadows cast by the ridge, and the Lombardy poplars formed a sharp contrast with verdant fields as we neared the road junction between Kogan-ni and Chindong-ni. One tank with a rifle squad went to the right of the road junction.  The second tank and our squad took up positions about 1,000 yards to the left of the road junction, and the third tank and a squad took up positions at the road junction.  The fourth tank stayed with the company.

The fading light of day provided only a short time for us to see the carnage and havoc of combat that had been inflicted by the North Korean 6th Division during the past two days--burned vehicles, artillery pieces in road ditches, and dead "Guks" strewn along the road bank in drainage ditches and around paddy dikes, indicating the close hand-to-hand fighting encountered by the American units. The Army and Marines had evacuated their dead and wounded.

The tank stopped on the narrow road and was maneuvered back and forth, knocking down part of the thatched roof house so as to get most of the tank off the road. In this position the tank crew could effectively fire in both directions on the road and to the rice paddy in front of us. We jumped off the tank and our squad leader positioned two men in the road ditch about 40 yards to the left of the tank. He placed Hall and me in front of the tank facing the rice paddy, which would provide no protection if there were a frontal attack. He and the remaining two men in the squad took positions in a cotton patch located on a slight bluff behind the buildings. When the squad leader came to check on us, we explained to him that our position was in line of the tank fire and vulnerable in case of a frontal attack. He concurred and moved us across the road to the road ditch about 20 feet from the tank. The night air was warm and filled with mosquitoes which were about to eat us alive.  He later brought us a can of insect repellent. We were both to stay awake, but I was drifting in and out of sleep. Hall every few minutes asked, “Scott, are you awake?” I always managed to reply, “Yes” to calm any fear he might have.

We had been in our positions about two hours when our squad leader paid us a visit. He had received a message from the Company CP that they were unable to contact the squad or tank crew at the road junction. We were to deliver the message to them that some troops from the 5th Infantry, the 5th Marines, the Triple Nickel, or stragglers from other units, as well as the enemy, might approach our positions. We were to carefully identify them as friend or foe before opening fire. I thought it would have been better to send a company runner or someone from our machine gun squad who had dug in with the company, but we just followed orders.

The night sky was dark and brooding, providing very little light on the uneven road surface and making our steps uncertain. Hall and I walked as softly as possible, yet wanted to make enough noise so as to alert the squad at the tank not to be too hasty to cut us down in a hail of bullets. As we neared the road junction, we could see the silhouette of the tank.  We talked loud enough for the men to recognize our voices--hopefully. We expected that they would halt us and ask for a password which we did not know. They did not halt us or ask for a password, but a soft, low voice broke the silence, “Why are you out walking the streets so late at night in an area that is off limits?” Hall replied, “Just for the fun of it.” We delivered the message. As we left to return to our position, they told us to watch for the MPs who would pick us up for being in an area off limits.

A thunderstorm seemed to be developing.  The warm night air was very humid. We silhouetted the Lombardy poplars against the night sky to help guide us to our position in the road ditch. We saw a flash and heard the roll of Heaven’s artillery breaking the silence of the night. Rain started showering down in sheets accompanied by flashes of lightning that lit up the night sky, followed by thunder. We could see the tank and the rice paddy dike with each flash. The storm passed and all was quiet except the little creatures of the night.

Day 50 – Sunday 13 August 1950

Sometime after midnight some flashes of light in the distant sky that we thought were lightning had a sound that was unique.  They screamed in overhead bringing their own thunder, exploding just beyond the bluff where the other members of our squad were located. We were not sure who the barrage was addressed to – us or our company. Several more flashes and the rounds screaming overhead appeared to fall closer to our company area as the enemy walked the rounds in their directions. I do not know if they spotted us as we took up positions as it was almost dark. Perhaps it was elements of the 6th North Korean Division that had attacked the 5th Marines, 5th Infantry, and the Triple Nickel that had observed us. The big question confronting us was, “Would they launch an attack, and from what direction would it come?” A burp gun broke the silence and several retorts from rifles joined in a brief bit of firing between our positions and the company. “Charlie” Company did not return the fire. I was led to believe that a patrol was in the area and had sent information back to the artillery unit.

Everything was quiet again except for the frogs, crickets, the buzz of mosquitoes, the concert of thousands of little creatures, and the rain drops dripping off the leaves. Through the noise we tried to listen for the sounds of a larger species approaching with the creaking of the cast iron wheels of their machine guns as they towed them along. Earlier I had a hard time trying to distinguish the artillery shells exploding and the claps of Heaven’s artillery when they occurred at the same time. I had reservations about the coming of dawn. There were many enemy units scattered around that created havoc with the 5th Infantry, 5th Marines, and the 555th Artillery. We would be cut off out here and would have to fight our way out.

The sun began to reveal the fog-shrouded landscape. We got out of the road ditch and could hear traffic on the radio in the tank, so we climbed upon the grate that covered the motor. The tankers were fast asleep inside the tank. Hall untied one of the waterproof bags and pulled out a clean dry pair of fatigues. I quickly stripped down, put them on, and emptied my pockets of all my earthly belongings while he stuffed my wet fatigues in the bag and retied it. We jumped off the tank and started up to see our squad leader, who was coming off the bluff to tell us that we would be leaving shortly. The tankers slowly came to life. The order came for us to leave, so we boarded the tank and proceeded up the road to join the squad at the road junction.

A lieutenant from the Triple Nickel with a truck and a driver arrived to recover what he could salvage of yesterday’s disaster. Some of us offered to help load 55-gallon drums of gasoline on the back of the 6X while he was shouting, prancing around and giving anemic, nonsensical orders. I was glad he was not in our company or any infantry outfit. He must have been frightened because of what happened the past few days. We retraced our route back to Komam-ni without incident.

Our company was assigned a sector about two miles from the Nam River. Our platoon was pulled out of the line and went into positions just before dark in front of Company B. Trucks took us to the top of a hill where we dismounted and walked halfway down the road where it made a slight rise before descending into the village of Chungam-ni, about a mile or more away. Two squads went to the left of the road; our squad and the machine gun squad along with the Platoon CP went to the right of the road. We formed a small perimeter on each side of the road which was built around the machine gun.

Digging the foxholes was an arduous task; B Company was digging in on Sibidang-san, the highest point in the area. They needed some uninterrupted time which was crucial to digging in and carrying supplies up to their fortress before an enemy attack. Sibidang-san provided a good observation post for miles around in all directions and was one of the most vital parts in the 35th Infantry sector. I did not like the situation as the enemy could easily work his way in behind to cut us off from the regiment or bypass us and attack B Company. Curtis Arms, whom I had known only slightly, was my foxhole buddy. The situation did not give one a good sense of security, but the Platoon CP was on our side of the road, which was some consolation. We dug only a shallow foxhole.

Day 51 – Monday 14 August 1950

The sunrise was a welcome and beautiful sight as it chased the darkness away from around the small scrub trees and bushes that dotted the terrain. I was able to get a little sleep since the others were awake in our perimeter. The night was peaceful except for our own artillery shelling the Chinju Pass and The Notch. A Jeep brought us morning chow, a hot breakfast for a change. They left C-rations for our noon meal. We were glad to see the mess crew, driver and shotgun guard and hated to see them pack up and leave.

We kept a low profile all day, improving our positions. Pappy used his field glasses to study the area and the parts of the town he could see in Chungam-ni. After we had finished C-rations for our noon meal, we tried to get a little sleep, but the afternoon sun was so hot and the trees and bushes provided very little shade from the searing heat. The Jeep with attached trailer brought our evening chow and mail for those fortunate enough to receive a letter. I did not like to see the Jeep and mess crew coming even if they brought food, as it could reveal our positions to the enemy. The Jeep and mess crew left as darkness began to settle into the valley, and though we hated to see the sun leave, it was a relief from an uncomfortable day with no escape from its penetrating rays.

The 1st Battalion was stretched beyond the normal battalion’s sector as in previous wars, but we had no choice. Our main mission was to engage the enemy if they attacked, confuse them, and withdraw back to our unit. I wondered what chances we would have in making it back if we came under a minor or major attack.

The darkness that had been advancing across the valley toward us from the distant ridgelines arrived and left me wondering how many eyes had been watching us all day. While we kept a low profile, we did not really conceal ourselves. I think we should have left our positions before daylight that morning to go to our unit and then return after dark to continue our mission.

Arms went to sleep on guard last night. Our squad leader found him asleep twice. I was glad that Arms was honest and did not lie by telling our squad leader that I was supposed to be on guard, as it would have been his word against mine. Arms had collected seven packs of C-rations coffee from other men to add to the three that he had, which he put in an empty C-ration can with two packs of sugar and lukewarm water from his canteen. He stirred the contents with his GI spoon and the coffee was as dark as the approaching night. He drank it to the last drop in hopes that it would keep him awake through the night. I thought the rigor of combat had exhausted him or he had a sleep deficit disorder. I took first turn at guard so Arms could get a few extra minutes of sleep.

Day 52 – Tuesday 15 August 1950

The sun was at work on time and emerged after sweeping away the fog and haze that filled the valley in the land rightly called, The Land of the Morning Calm.  I could not tell that the coffee had any ill effects on Arms, but it still did not keep him awake. Our squad leader caught him asleep on guard last night. I did not like the prospect of being shot dead in my sleep or being taken prisoner. Pappy threatened to court martial him, but being human and possessed with wisdom and a sound mind, he realized Arms had a physical problem. He had him transferred to a mortar squad in the 4th Platoon. I could stay awake if I was on guard alone, but if the two of us were to stay awake, it was only normal that each would assume that the other was awake. I felt that Arms’ problem was either fatigue or mental escape from reality. Curtis was from California. I did not think that was a contributing factor.

We were glad to see the Jeep with our morning chow. The Jeep detail did not leave any C-rations for our noon meal, which concerned me. I was always concerned about eating and mail, and though I did not get a lot of mail, a lot of men got less and some got none at all. At midmorning, trucks arrived to take us to our unit. We were glad to be back in the security of Charlie Company digging a new foxhole.  As they say, “Home is where you dig it,” and I had a lot of new homes since arriving in The Land of the Morning Calm.

Three new replacements arrived in our platoon just after noon chow – Paul Blanton from Beckley, West Virginia, Richard "Hank" Bulger from Rumford, Maine, and Wilburn Vaughn from Bainbridge, Georgia. Paul was assigned to me as a foxhole buddy. Paul wore black horn-rimmed glasses, spoke well, and was of a lighter build. Our squad leader came by as we were busy digging our foxhole and made derogatory remarks to Paul for no reason at all except that he looked more intellectual and had a personality that exhibited a quiet spirit. Trying to impress Paul as a tough squad leader, he punched him before he left--perhaps as he had seen in a movie or read in a magazine, or maybe he was trying to impress me. I thought he was careful who he punched.

About 4:00 p.m., I was told to report to the Company CP with three other men. Lt. Pannell, our Company Commander, singled me out and instructed me to take the other three men to Nam River at the Kuhe-ri ferry crossing, where we were to spend the night on a listening and observation post. If the enemy came, we were to fire for effect and return from the dike to Charlie Company. An intelligence report indicated that an attack appeared to be heading in our direction and that Regiment had sent an order down to outpost some men on the river. The Company Commander wanted a tank to accompany us, but the tank commander demanded too much security. He wanted the entire platoon, not four men. Our CO told the tanker bluntly that if he was afraid and a coward, he should return to the rear for protection. He heeded the advice of our CO and left for the rear area.

I do not know why it was my lot to be on so many assignments that were high risk, but I was pleased that the CO looked on me as a leader as well as being responsible. He probably knew that I had finished second place in the Leadership School at Fort Hood. However, it may be that the CO did not see it that way at all, but thought if I were sacrificed in such an endeavor, it would be no great loss.

We returned to our platoon to make preparations for our mission. Our squad leader wanted to know the purpose of our visit to the CO. I told him and he immediately went to the CO and talked him into letting him lead the patrol. I had already studied the map, so I was familiar with the location of the Kuhe-ri ferry at the end of the dike road and some two miles from the confluence of the Nam and Naktong Rivers.  The Namji-ri Bridge was about three miles to the right rear of the ferry. Our squad leader was in the picture, and though he displayed courage by volunteering to go, I believe it was to compensate for that which he did not possess – leadership. He had watched too many Hollywood movies and should have remained a mail clerk at regiment. He returned from the CP and assembled us, instructing that, once we left the line of departure, anything was fair game if we considered it a threat.

The afternoon was hot and humid. We left the defense line of Charlie Company with no fanfare, bands, or going away party. In fact, not many noticed our departure. We made our way along the narrow ox cart road on top of the paddy dike toward the river about two miles away. The rice paddies stretched for several miles in all directions – paddies on both sides of the dike road. We proceeded without incident. About 400 yards from the river, a People in White (PIW) was making his way toward us from the direction of the river. The first scout closed with him. Our squad leader joined him as the rest of us moved up to see what was taking place. Our squad leader spoke to him in Japanese, the official language of Korea during the 45 years of Japanese occupation. The Korean man was short, stout, and slightly bent from years of hard physical toil. He appeared to be a docile, innocent man, perhaps in his fifties, whose white clothing was soiled from toil.

Our squad leader dropped his M1 to this hip, pointed it up slightly, and pulled the trigger. There was a click as the firing pin hit a dud round. The old man did not sense any danger or exhibit any fear of the situation at hand; most likely he had never seen a rifle. Our squad leader ejected the dud round, releasing the operating rod, which drove another round into the chamber.  Then he pulled the trigger. There was a deafening crack of the rifle as one ball or round of ammunition found its intended target less than five feet away.  It entered the old Korean’s head just to the right of his nose above the eyebrow in an upwards trajectory, knocking the old man backwards on the dike road. His reflexes responded, causing his body to curl up slightly. His twitching body rocked back and forth momentarily while his heart continued its mission of beating, pumping blood with each beat and sending a fresh geyser of brilliant red blood that flowed down both sides of his temples, his nose and eyes to form puddles in the dry dusty dike road beneath his head.  The dust dictated the direction of the pool that formed as the blood emptied out of his body until it was only a trickle and then stopped altogether as his life ebbed away into eternity, all in a matter of seconds, leaving a life that could not be restored. The old man did not die a natural death.

History records that since Cain murdered Abel, the dust from which man was created receives his blood. A few days ago I had witnessed my first casualty – a little lad. Today I witnessed my first violent death – an old man coming from his field of labor.  Both were innocent. I was more convinced than ever that our squad leader had watched too many Hollywood movies with their perverted presentations of war.

We continued on down the dike road with about 50 yards between us. Our squad leader shouted for Starkey, who was bringing up the rear of the column, to go back and throw the “Guk” off the dike road. The squad leader stopped about 200 yards from the high dike that ran alongside the river and called for me to come forward. I was next to the last man in the five-man column. He told me to go forward and scout the area along the dike. A few low thatched roof buildings buttressed up close to the dike. He was hard to understand; his voice was very shaky; his speech was disjointed; his hand that held the walkie-talkie radio, which was our only link with C Company, was quaking like a dead leaf as he tried to steady the radio. His nervous system was reacting to the seeming atrocity he had just committed on an old man who was by no means a threat to us.

I proceeded toward the high dike without stealth or carefulness. If the enemy was in the buildings or behind the dike, they heard the announcement of our coming. I did not like being put into such a precarious situation, but like a good soldier, I followed orders. As I approached the buildings along the dike, scanning in all directions at once looking for concealment or movement as I waited to hear the report of a rifle or burp gun, I was like a fox on a windy day. I started to run up the dike, as it would be harder to hit a moving target, but knew that it might excite the rest of the men who were waiting about 200 yards behind me. I eased upon the high dike looking left and right and across to the river. The river was rather low due to the lack of rain as it flowed peacefully toward the Naktong River two miles away. Across the river were two farmers working their fields with oxen. I could hear them shouting commands to the oxen like farmers back home shouting gee and haw to horses to make them go left or right. Tall Lombardy poplars that stood as sentinels lining both sides of the dike added a beautiful view of the river and the cultivated fields that stretched to the backdrop of mountains in the far distance.

I was so immersed with the pastoral scene, a beautiful subject for a painting so typical of Korea that I almost forgot to motion for the rest of the men to come forward. We had no air panel, so if the Air Force spotted us, we could be in for serious trouble. Looking back over my shoulder, I motioned for them to come forward.  They were standing like a bunch of dorks. I could see troops on the distant hill across the Naktong River to our right. They had to be Americans because they were walking on the ridges and were most likely men of the 2nd Infantry Division who joined our regiment at the Namji-ri Bridge.

We spent the rest of the day observing the peaceful landscape for any signs that would betray enemy troop movement. Shortly before dark, a Jeep with a trailer came barreling down the dike road with clouds of dust in its trail.  It came to a stop at the end of the dike road. They brought evening chow to us. I felt rather secure with the mess crew present, so we ate our food feeling sort of special with custom delivery. Everybody was happy, but I could sense that the mess crew was anxious to beat it back to C Company. They hastily packed up and were gone in a cloud of dust.  We enjoyed not having to dig a hole for the night because we were on a listening post far in advance of our company. The long shadows of the Lombardy poplars signaled that the sun was finishing the day as darkness advanced from the distant hill. The two farmers and oxen had left their field of toil.

Our squad leader placed Hall and me to the left of the shacks on the dike, while he and the other two men took a position on the dike. Later he moved Hall and me to one of the open-ended sheds facing the rice fields. Hall was concerned about what had happened today. I agreed with him. Growing up as I did, I had opportunity to see hogs and steers shot and butchered each fall. I recalled that before I was seven years old, I was given the privilege of shooting one of our hogs with a 22 rifle while they were eating. My dad instructed me where to place the round – slightly above the eyes a little to the left or right of the center of his head.  The shot was at close range. The hog fell and my dad jumped over the pigpen fence and slit the hog’s throat with a butcher knife to draw the blood from the hog. I realized that once I pulled the trigger, there was no going back and I could not undo what I had done. Things would never be the same for me. Today was my first experience of seeing a person killed. We discussed several issues in whispers, as we did not want the enemy to hear us, though it helped us stay awake.

Day 53 – Wednesday 16 August 1950

The dawn of a new day was a welcome sight, unveiling the vast flood plain and realizing we had made it through another night. We were both tired and hungry after staying awake all night. Various insects spent the night sending out mating calls; the little culex and anopheles mosquitoes were out in force searching for blood. I observed that the anopheles sort of stood on its head with its front legs forming an “A” and its rear legs extended up like an anti-aircraft gun when she was drawing blood. The culex looked a lot like the anopheles, but was different in its stance when drawing blood by keeping a lower profile. My brother Jack, who was in New Guinea and the Philippines, took Atabrine to prevent malaria. When he came home after the war, he was still yellow from taking Atabrine. We took a Chloroquine pill once a week. The squad leader had to observe each man in the squad as he took the pill at chow time. The pills were bitter. I threw the pill back in my mouth and chased it down with coffee. If it didn’t go down, I spit it out in my hand, took a few bites of food to recover from the bitterness, and tried again until I got it down the hatch. The life cycle of the parasite was broken by the drug in the liver to prevent one from being infected with malaria.

The breakfast chow was brought in the Jeep. I was always glad for the food and also for the men to help if we had a surprise attack by the enemy. We spent the morning observing as we rotated between naps. We had C-rations for our noon meal. I thought we would have to spend another night there. Late in the afternoon, we saw two Jeeps coming down the dike road. The Jeeps came to a halt and five men dismounted to replace us on the OP. I was delighted. One of the new replacements, Wilburn Vaughn, volunteered for OP duty. We told them what we knew and boarded the waiting Jeeps to return to our platoon. We learned that A Company had lost a hill and B Company counter-attacked to restore the lost positions. We ate our evening chow and were all glad to be back in the platoon to get at least a half night of sleep instead of having to stay awake all night.

Day 54 – Thursday 17 August 1950

The sun came up slowly to chase the dense fog away that filled the valley. Though I got more sleep last night, I was convinced more than ever that sleep lost was lost forever and could not be recovered. Despite the hot humid conditions, we dug with difficulty in the hard soil to improve our foxhole to make it more comfortable. Life on the OP was a snap compared to digging and cutting fields of fire for automatic weapons. We prepared a good defense line with anticipation of a large scale attack. My hands were sore due to ruptured blisters and new blisters. Stringing barbed wire was taxing and the barb did not apologize when it snagged and tore the flesh on my hands. We should have had gloves. We had done little to conceal our positions. I tried to provide important information to Paul, the new replacement, about life in C Company that might be helpful to him. Paul took first turn at guard. At last I was able to get a little extra sleep and it was not likely that there would be an enemy attack just after dark.

Day 55 – Friday 18 August 1950

Another beautiful day had dawned and it was a little cooler at night. We continued to work on our positions as there were always improvements to be made. An order came down for C Company to attack and restore the positions lost again by A Company. We were pulled out of the line late in the afternoon and were taken by trucks to the vicinity of Battalion Headquarters, where we ate our evening chow – chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, peas, cake and coffee. A Kamikaze pilot would have enjoyed eating that meal for his last one and for some of us it would be our last meal, though not Kamikazes.

We boarded trucks and were taken to our jump-off point for the attack. I was excited about what was taking place and glad that A Company was unable to retake the high ground they lost last night.  Though they tried several times to take back their positions during the day, each attempt failed. We passed several ambulances and litter Jeeps, which I realized were for the wounded.  Somehow it did not register in my mind that some might have been killed. The aggressors at Fort Hood never wounded or killed anyone.

We dismounted from the trucks as platoon sergeants and squad leaders shouted out orders as we prepared for the attack. Our platoon was to take the high ground to the left of the summit and the 2nd Platoon was assigned the high ground to the right of the summit. Our squad leader acted his part just like someone in the movies produced by Hollywood. I am sure he believed the cameras were cranking out the film as he shouted orders in hopes that he would be seen by high ranking officers – poor role model. I could tell he was apprehensive and not sure of himself; however, the hill was defended by North Koreans who were well-trained and armed, not a bunch of Korean farmers.

We fanned out to form a skirmish line as we started up the steep hill firing from the hip and shoulder while our squad leader to our rear shouted for us to spread out. He did not have the stamina morally or physically to keep up. Because of the intense heat, he started vomiting.  The hill and the humidity took him out of action, which was a blessing for our company. A WWII corporal in our platoon did not have the energy, the guts, or the intelligence to drive to the top.  He physically was not able. Since he did not have a stomach for battle, he did a lot of shouting to compensate for his weakness. To hear this corporal before the battle, one would have thought he was an Audie Murphy or Alvin York. There was a lot less noise from mortar and artillery rounds and from machine guns from D Company which provided covering fire. As we approached the crest, I continued to fire at likely targets, but I could not tell if we were receiving return fire from the enemy.  This was my first encounter with the enemy. Things became more quiet when D Company machine guns lifted their fire.  Only M1s and BARs were barking as we reached the crest.

Since this was my first experience in combat, I did not know exactly what to do. As I reached the crest, instinct told me to get down as I made my way through a small cotton patch so I could peer over the crest to the distant ridgelines. I was one of the first in our sector to reach the crest and, not knowing what to do, I fired at likely targets on the finger ridges.  From my observation, I could not tell that there were enemy troops anywhere. All of my training had been excellent and helpful, but no amount of training can take one through a live situation. Where was my squad leader or the corporal who knew so much?

As others reached the top of the hill and took up positions, the rate of firing increased. I glanced to my right to see what others were doing, but to no avail – a lot of noise to sort through as to what was going on. An enemy machine gun took us under fire and began to rake the ridge we were on. I began to sort out the dull thud of slugs slamming into the dirt, shredding and chopping the cotton plants near me. A bullet hit a guy wire on a power pole, which responded like an out-of-tune banjo string. I thought it was in my best interest to relocate before the enemy gunner got my street address and number.

I crawled to the left, coming upon a foxhole where I was greeted by a dead GI from A Company whose grotesque body brought a sense of death and the brutality of war. He was a rifleman who had been killed when they lost the hill. I became distraught when I came upon him, but could not let it interfere with my mission or job performance. I used the cotton plants as a cover, not realizing that when I moved, the plants moved, and the enemy fired where they saw movement.

I still could not see any enemy. I shouted to a man on my right to see what and where he was shooting. He replied that there were a lot of enemy on the ridges in front of us. I kept looking and firing, but I did not see any enemy soldiers. I paused and suddenly I saw a bush move up.  It was a cleverly camouflaged enemy ammo bearer for the machine gunner. I fired away at the distant ridgeline, which was teeming with enemy soldiers doing the job they were trained for, moving up for a counter attack.

The sun was finishing its work for the day. The firefight continued until darkness drew the curtains. The 2nd Platoon had several wounded and four killed. One man who wore glasses was shot through the eye.  Some thought that the reflected light of the setting sun on his glasses gave away his position. The big question that entered my mind was, “When will the enemy launch a counter attack, and will it be from the rear which will cut us off from the battalion?” We were not digging in, as we could use the abandoned positions of A Company.

About an hour after dark, an order was given that we would withdraw when the hill was cleared of the dead and wounded. We were to assemble at the base of the hill where the attack began. The plan for our withdrawal was for the last man on the right flank to shout, “Where is Charlie?” and the man to his left would shout, “Over here."  Then he would turn his head to the left and shout, “Where is Charlie?” and then withdraw. No man was to withdraw until he had received the message, “Where is Charlie?” Time seemed to drag by slowly and darkness added to my apprehension. In the far distance I faintly heard, “Where is Charlie?” followed by, “Over here."  It seemed forever for the chorus to gain volume as it came closer.  At last, the man on my right shouted, “Where is Charlie?” I took it personally and shouted, “Over here,” turning my head to the man on my left shouting, “Where is Charlie?” There was only one man to my left who shouted, “Over here,” and ended the chorus.

I slid out of position and started working my way down the hill through the darkness to the base of the hill to join other figures, guided by the sound of muffled voices at the assembly point. Once there, I could make out the dead men wrapped in ponchos along the path on transport litters. I heard someone refer to them as "stiffs" – a new word for my combat vocabulary. Our platoon and squads got sorted out and moved down the draw to the rice paddy dikes on the way back to the road. We hiked to our new positions along the Chinju-Komam-ni (Saga)-Masan Highway, the main and vital route to Pusan. Our squad leader volunteered for us to be out-posted on a finger ridge in front of our company. The company was busy digging in upon the hill to our rear and above us. We dug shallow holes to form a small perimeter, and waited for the sunrise.

Day 56 – Saturday 19 August 1950

The sunrise was a welcome sight as it pierced through the light fog that engulfed us during the night. Shortly after daylight, we joined the rest of our platoon in establishing the company perimeter halfway up the hillside.  It provided a good view of the valley that forked in front of us and the finger ridge where we spent the night.  The ridge jutted out abruptly before leveling off to a narrow point with a slight saddle between. On the left side of the finger ridge, the ground dropped sharply as it curved to the contour of the hill. A cluster of thatched roof houses was strung along close to the base of the hill. The bamboo thicket concealed all but a few of the thatched roof tops. Beyond the roof tops were rice paddy dikes that formed a slight S curve as they followed the contour of the hill. On the right side of the finger ridge, the land fell off less sharply to the main highway.  Further on to the right, the tracks of the Kyongjon Nambu Railroad line ran from Samch-onp-o on the south coast north to Chinju, then east to Chungam-ni and Masan.

We were told that we would be in these positions for some time and should dig deeper for more protection from possible enemy artillery and direct tank fire from the road. Where feasible, the enemy led the attack with tanks while the infantry worked around wide and came in behind our flanks. Since we straddled the main highway from Chinju to Pusan via Masan, we held a vital position on the west wall of the Pusan Perimeter. It was a hot day with more digging – “Digging to live, living to dig,” that was the name of the game in the Regular Army. My hands were somewhat better.  They did not have as many blisters; calluses had formed to take their place. We had been on the move and each move required more digging for a new foxhole.  The digging continued.

Chow was brought up from the rear to a point about a mile down the road to our rear. Half of a squad went to chow while the other half stayed on line. The cooks had the chow line set up and, considering the circumstances, they provided decent, hot meals each day. Not one of the kitchen staff complained or shirked his duty for fear of being sent to a rifle platoon. They did not like the thought of digging, hiking, sleepless nights, and being shot out of existence into eternity. Our Company Commander was the one responsible for our having hot chow when other companies often had C-rations.

Last night there was a short round in some outgoing mail that fell just outside our perimeter on the finger ridge. The Platoon CP called the Company CP about the short round and they relayed the call to battalion to be sure the 64th put enough postage on the outgoing mail.

On our way back from chow, we carried a roll of barbed wire using two men to carry one roll on a pole. Between meals we strung the barbed wire, enduring hot, humid weather. We had hard digging until dark. George took first guard.

Day 57 – Sunday 20 August 1950

The sun was always a welcome visitor. I did not know how George might respond to the early morning hour incident when I awakened him for his two-hour hitch of guard.  When he got up and started putting on his gear, I asked him why he did that and he replied that Pappy had told him to go down the hill and guard the tank dug in beside the road. The more I reasoned with him, the more he insisted. As he started to climb out of our foxhole, in desperation I punched him in the jaw. He became a bit startled and I began to wonder if I had done the right thing.  Should I punch him again or would it start a fight?  He was usually compatible, but I did not think he would take a jab like that lying down. He became a bit disjointed and inarticulate as he tried to shake himself free from the stupor, but he slowly realized he had just had a rude awakening – a wakeup call. He finally became adjusted, removed his gear, and took his turn at guard. I awakened him and asked if he wanted to go to early chow. Before leaving for early chow, he thanked me. He said I did the right thing and if I had let him go, he could have missed the path down the hill, strayed into the barbwire, and been shot dead by one of our own men. As he left for chow, I could tell that he was exhausted physically and mentally and was at the saturation point for a breakdown. When he returned from chow, he and another man brought another roll of barbed wire. Each time we came back from chow, we lugged up a roll of barbed wire suspended on a pole between us. We spent the day stringing barbed wire.

The days were dreadfully hot and humid, but it was a bit cooler at night. I attended services back at the chow point with the Chaplain from Texas. The shadows lengthened and dusk set in, making it a little cooler when the sun dropped behind the distant ridge.  But night and the enemy followed the dusk. We attached C-ration cans with gravel in them to the barbed wire, hoping that if the enemy came he would trip on the wire and cause the cans to rattle. We also set a few trip flares, and booby-trapped some hand grenades along the barbed wire. George took first turn at guard, so I turned in a little early for a few extra winks. I had no trouble falling to sleep on the hard, uneven ground in our foxhole, with dirt occasionally falling in my face, hair, and ears.

Day 58 – Monday 21 August 1950

The rising sun brought to a conclusion a peaceful night in our sector. I gave George a shake to let him know I was leaving for early chow. We always enjoyed meeting and eating at chow as it was a time to relax and enjoy the chit chat. On our way back from chow, we stopped at Ribac’s foxhole near the road above the tank, but he was not in a talkative mood. He told us the enemy was at the base of the finger ridge. We shrugged it off as nonsense and went up the hill carrying the roll of barbed wire. George was napping in the hole.  When I told him what Ribac said as he was leaving for chow, he said, “Ribac must be dreaming.” After lighting a cigarette, I laid down in the hole to enjoy a smoke. I butted the cigarette and made myself comfortable for a short nap. When George returned, we would be stringing wire.

A rifle shot shattered the morning calm, followed by a burst from Ribac’s machine gun. I bolted up and looked down the hill to the left side of the finger ridge toward the hamlet which was partially concealed by a bamboo thicket. To my surprise, I saw an enemy soldier dart between shacks. I got off a quick round, which was a poor shot. The tempo picked up, as the hamlet was teeming with enemy soldiers. The men at chow heard the shots and ran back to their respective positions. George was out of breath.  I shouted between rounds, telling him where to look for the enemy. The enemy was not returning fire, so we became very bold, disregarding our own personal safety. George joined in as he got the drift of the situation.  The enemy was beginning to bug out along the base of the hill using the bamboo thicket and houses for concealment and protection to evade our fire.  That was a wise decision on their part because it made our fire less effective. After about 30 minutes, the firing died down as targets became fewer and out of range except for an occasional straggler.  The tank and Ribac still fired intermittently. We got out of our holes and milled around, feeling a great sense of success. The tank crew had fired about five boxes of ammunition from its co-axial machine gun. According to Ribac, he fired 17 boxes through his machine gun.

At midmorning our squad leader volunteered to lead a patrol into the village in search of any enemy soldiers who might have remained in the village. Only two men from our squad and six from the platoon made up the patrol. Halfway down the finger ridge, our squad leader radioed back that they had found four enemy soldiers who had been killed by the short round a few nights before.  No doubt they were part of an enemy patrol sent out to test our integrity and resolve. When the patrol made a complete search of the village, our squad leader found an enemy soldier in a house cleaning his rifle--a .31 caliber Japanese rifle used in WWII. He let him finish cleaning his rifle and made him assemble it before taking the rifle from him.  He then loaded it and shot the enemy soldier dead. The two men from our squad related the events to us. Again, I believe the movie industry had done a lot of damage to his thinking. We were not trained like that.  The North Korean soldier may have had information useful to us.

When we returned from noon chow, I was told to report to the Platoon CP with George.  Sixteen other men from the company were at the CP when we arrived. A 1st Lieutenant joined us. I was not sure if he was from A or C Company. He was the patrol leader who assembled us on the hillside to brief us as to our role and mission. We sat on the hillside in the hot afternoon sun wishing for some trees to shade us, but there were none. The Lieutenant leaned forward resting his left forearm on his left knee while his right leg extended down the steep hill for support, his body forming a living gnomon casting a shadow that was about 1400 hours. The sweltering heat pricked our skin that glistened with beads of sweat that merged together and trickled down our arms, legs and chests. As we listened, he said the mission of the patrol was to recover a dead man from A Company’s former positions of a few days ago. The patrol was to be taken by truck to the jump off point. There would be two tanks at the line of departure at the road to provide covering fire to help extract us if we encountered a problem. We were to follow the rice paddy dikes to the railroad embankment several hundred yards away. A BAR team would be left at the railroad embankment to provide covering fire for our withdrawal if we had to fight our way out. After crossing the railroad embankment we were to take a rough path up the ridge to the former positions of A Company. About 200 yards from the crest, the other BAR team would be positioned to cover us if we had to attack and drive the enemy off the hill or cover us if we ran into trouble. We were to retrieve the dead and withdraw. He emphasized that no dead or wounded was to be left behind, concluding his briefing. He called for questions about the operation. I kept my thoughts to myself, but thought the mission was fraught with danger.  To risk the lives of 19 men into enemy territory to recover a dead man was, to me, unthinkable when we were so short of men. I did not covet going after a man from C Company, but I would go. I felt A Company should recover their own. There were no questions, so no answers were required.  It was business as usual.

The Lieutenant assigned us to our positions in the patrol. It took me by surprise when he mentioned that George Milanovich would be first scout and I would be second scout. Were we selected because we were expendable or because of the qualities we possessed? I had received more than my fair share of dangerous assignments since arriving in C Company just 14 days ago.

We walked down the steep hillside where we cleared our rifles and boarded the truck which took us to the point of departure. At the jump off point were two Easy Eight tanks of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion and our Company Commander sitting on the hood of his Jeep. He spoke to us and the Lieutenant when we dismounted before seeing us off. George dropped over the steep road bank and I followed about 40 yards behind so as not to bunch up. The Lieutenant was about the same distance behind me. George followed the paddy dike leading in the direction of the railroad embankment several hundred yards away. The rest of the patrol was strung out behind in an orderly fashion.

As we approached the railroad embankment, I felt a bit uneasy and cautious as the enemy had fled in this direction during the morning. George scaled over the embankment and made tracks quickly, and I followed soon after. George started up the trail along the base of the hill that would eventually lead to the former positions of A Company. The hill was rough and dotted with small scrub bushes, and the trail became steeper as it twisted over the rough terrain.

As I made a switch back on the trail, I could see the BAR team at the railroad embankment. The man who was carrying the litter to transport the dead man was bringing up the rear of the patrol. We had only a short distance to the top of the hill, so I kept closing the gap between us thinking I would be more help to George if he was fired on. As we neared the top of the hill where there was a small ravine, I was only a few feet behind George when we spotted simultaneously several North Korean soldiers strewn in the ravine. He stopped instantly and motioned for me to stop the patrol and join him. I threw my hand up to signal the patrol to stop and joined George. We should have been panic-stricken, but assessing the situation we quickly made it over the top of the ridge to make sure we were not in a trap. Returning to the ravine, we moved silently and quickly so as not to disturb the North Koreans. We could see that they had come to grief from the wounds they suffered from Ribac’s machine gun and from tank fire.

We whispered low to each other as we walked among the dead bodies that had been caught in our small arms and tank fire that morning. I spoke to George concerning one that was face up that I thought was dead. George shook his head back and forth and whispered, “Dead men don’t sweat.” Beads of sweat were on the enemy's upper lip. We walked cautiously among the slaughtered, being careful not to cast a shadow on any who might be well and alive.  All appeared to be dead. I discovered one that was alive.  He had been shot through the upper left thigh. We walked back to the one near the ravine. George gave him a soft nudge with the toe of his combat boot and the North Korean soldier opened his eyes like any other soldier who is awakened from sleep as if in a dream. At first he was stunned with disbelief.  He then bolted up on his feet like a Jack-in-a-Box. He wanted to fight but we punched him into subjection. Fortunately we did not have to shoot him. I motioned for the patrol to join us. We walked over to the other North Korean and gently awakened him. He opened his eyes and only stared at his captors.  His present life had just about ebbed away due to the loss of blood. He offered no resistance, exhibited a kind disposition, and was glad that his captors showed pity.  Perhaps the war was over for him.

When the litter bearers arrived, we took them to the dead man from A Company who was still in the hole near the cotton patch. He had been dead four days, had turned black, and was bloated. Green flies were in abundance. As we pulled him on the litter by his clothing, the flesh oozed with the stench of death.  Once he was loaded on to the litter, I was a bit apprehensive as we prepared to leave the hill.  The able North Korean soldier did not want to help carry his wounded comrade, so a little force had to be applied to persuade him that it was in his best interest to comply. Several GIs took turns helping the wounded North Korean off the hill.

Going down was almost as tiring as going up. The sun was fierce and unrelenting for friend or foe as we carefully picked our steps down the steep trail. The litter bearers and the wounded North Koreans were in front of us. I felt better about the tactical situation when we joined the BAR team at the railroad embankment and made our way across the paddy dike to the road. The tank fired two rounds and several bursts from its .50 caliber machine gun on the hill where we picked up the dead man. They must have spotted the enemy.  We were well out of range. I could tell our Company Commander was well-pleased. A Major from battalion headquarters joined the Company Commander. We boarded trucks and joined our company on the hill.

While eating chow, there was a lot of talk and questions from our buddies about taking two prisoners and recovering the dead man. I felt a real sense of accomplishment having been part of the patrol to recover a dead man. The return of some mother’s son, even though dead, would mean a lot to her. In fact, a dead man meant a lot more to me now. I felt sorry for all the dead in the gully and on the hill, but was glad that they would not be able to attack us. They were soldiers doing their job for lousy pay, poor food and harsh Spartan living just like the rest of us, contending with the heat, humidity, and enduring mosquitoes. I was thankful that God had put me in the 35th Infantry Regiment that cared even for a dead man--to know that if a man was killed in action, what was left of his body would be recovered. How foolish were my thoughts earlier about risking the lives of 19 able-bodied men for a dead man as the Lieutenant briefed us for the patrol. I had learned a lot from the day’s lesson--a big difference between school and education.  I believe it was Will Rogers who said, “He could not let schooling get in the way of his education.”

Day 59 – Tuesday 22 August 1950

The rising sun veiled by the fog ended an unremarkable night. The periodic outgoing mail continued through the night. I went to early chow. If we had not detected the enemy in the village, thanks to Ribac, and flushed them out, they would have attacked us last night. If they had attacked last night, the loss of life would have been great. One thing we knew for sure was that a large enemy force was near.  Being on the main road, it was just a matter of time before they would come knocking, but most likely they would use the back door.

It was no hotter than Fort Hood and the hills were just like the ones back home in West Virginia. Since we did not have gloves to wear, stringing barbed wire had caused our hands, forearms and legs to be punctured and our skin to be sore and festered. No replacements arrived for several days and the days dragged on with more digging, more wire, more ammo, and less sleep. I took first turn at guard.

Day 60 - Wednesday 23 August 1950

The sun was always a welcome sight. We had a peaceful night, but one strained his senses of smell, hearing, and seeing. Sometimes if the breeze was in the right direction, one might smell garlic, a good indicator that the enemy was in the area. If the little creatures of the night hushed their singing, it could be that the enemy was near. Seeing was often a problem at night. A bush might look like a crouching enemy soldier who seemed to move as our eyes played tricks on us. A decision must be made concerning options. The first instinct was to shoot or throw a grenade, but one should not play his hand unless necessary if it is only a patrol. All this was very taxing while one was on guard.

We had no more contact with the North Korean’s 6th and 7th Divisions and the 105th Armor of General Kim’s 1st Corps. According to Allied Translator & Interpreter Section (ATIS), General Kim fought with the 8th Route Army in China. The North Korean soldiers were highly disciplined and able fighters, as many had fought with the Japanese during WWII.

The days were still hot and humid, but they were shorter and the nights were cooler. George took first turn at guard.

Day 61 - Thursday 24 August 1950

The sun had little work to do this morning in dissipating the fog from the valley. There was a bit of excitement last night in the Platoon CP. Our radio man, who had acquired a Russian pistol, shot himself through the hand, but did not hit any bones. Some thought it was an accident, others said it was intentional. Everyone was in agreement that it would take a lot of guts to shoot oneself in the leg, foot, or hand. Some said it had too much trigger pull for it to be an accident. We will never know if it was intentional or accidental. He seemed to fit well in the platoon. I had observed on many occasions that he fiddled around with the pistol and seemed proud to have it as a souvenir.

We had another hot day in store.  Since we had not been digging the past two days, it could have been a sign that it was time for us to move to a new location. If we were attacked, it would be hard for us to extract ourselves out of the perimeter if the tactical situation demanded it. Though I hated to see the sun go down over the distant ridges, it was a relief to see it set to relieve us from its scorching heat. We usually took turns going on guard first, but not always.  The one who took the first turn got less sleep.

Day 62 - Friday 25 August 1950

The sun again chased the light fog away. Though I did not have a watch, I could tell the sun was coming to work a little later each day. All had been quiet in our sector, but every night the Deuce Four on Pilbong about two miles to our left had been locked in firefights. They lost the hill almost every night and had to counter attack during the day to retake their positions. If they were unable to retake the lost ground, which was often the case, the 27th Infantry Regiment had to take it for them. If they stood their ground and stayed put, the enemy most likely shifted to another sector, as they were always looking for a weak spot to exploit. Our company commander’s philosophy was, “If you lose it, you have to retake it.” I had heard that the best officers were sent to the 24th Infantry Regiment (Deuce Four). There was not much more we could do for our positions. Artillery and mortars had already been registered on various locations. We were still expecting a large-scale attack. The sun dipped below the horizon and we had another day without digging; can you believe that? However, I was reminded that one digs every time he used the slit trench (latrine). George took first turn at guard.

Day 63 - Saturday 26 August 1950

The sun came up to work on time and cleared away the light haze. While George went to early chow, I got a few extra winks. Our squad was pulled out of line, taken to the rear, and given orders to burn down a large village. No doubt, our squad leader volunteered us for this task. At least it was a change of venue to test our wits. They estimated that there were several battalions of enemy behind our perimeters, and some snipers had been using the village as a haven while sniping at men at the water point. We armed ourselves with a lot of white phosphorous grenades, straw, and gasoline to set the buildings on fire.

There were a lot of dead end paths like a maze among the thatched roof houses. We torched the buildings and looked for the enemy soldiers. The rice straw thatch ignited quickly, but then began to smolder as it burned down into the many layers of thatch, some two or three feet thick. The ash prevented the oxygen from reaching the straw. We found no enemy soldiers but did find some evidence of their having been there. The only sign of life was a few chickens running around.  The smoke, the heat, and the heat of the sun did not add to the joy of being arsonists for a day.

We returned to our position smelling like a five-alarm fire from the smoke and ash that settled on us. The houses were made of clay mixed with straw, which provided reinforcement for the walls and made them fire retardant. We were tired as we ate our evening chow, and were glad to see the day end. George took first turn at guard.

Day 64 - Sunday 27 August 1950

The sun revealed itself through the light haze, and its rays promised to inflict us with another hot day. The few scattered trees that were large enough to provide a semblance of shade were few and far between. The Chaplain was in the area for services at the chow point; several of us attended. The situation in the 24th (Deuce Four) Infantry was the only contest going on. The enemy was without doubt looking for a weak spot to breach and exploit – a tactic at which they were adept. We often wondered if the enemy was not attacking down the main road because of the heavy losses they encountered a few days ago, causing them to avoid being involved with C Company again. We used barbed wire, trip flares, and C-ration cans to alert us of an attack.  We had a rather slow day.

Day 65 - Monday 28 August 1950

The sun broke through the overcast sky late in the morning. We were informed at chow that C Company was being pulled out of our perimeter on the left side of the main highway and split to cover key routes of possible enemy attacks. Each platoon was to be in a blocking position behind the three rifle battalions of the regiment. All companies were to have their own perimeter that would form a line of isolated perimeters.

Our platoon was positioned on a hill sparsely covered with scrub bushes and small pine trees, not far from the small village of Saga (Komam-ni), situated on the Chinju-Komam-ni-Masan-Pusan Highway. We were slightly to the left rear of B Company, which was dug in on Sibidang-san, the highest terrain in the area. A Company occupied the positions we left. The 3rd Platoon was positioned to our right front about 3,000 yards away, covering approaches behind the 2nd Battalion. The 2nd Platoon was another mile or more to our north in support of the 3rd Battalion, which tied in with the 2nd Infantry Division at or near the Namji-ri Bridge over the Naktong River. Our Company CP was located below the 1st Platoon at the base of the hill in a few houses along the dike road that led up the valley between B Company and the river. To our rear was a large flood plain that stretched out for miles with paddy dikes forming intricate designs along the rice fields that were adjacent to the Nam and Naktong Rivers. We could see the town of Namji-ri and the River Bridge crossing the Naktong River from our position on a clear day.

We were assigned our positions to form a tight perimeter and spent most of the morning digging foxholes before stringing barbed wire. We were told that the 1st Battalion we were supporting protruded further out than any other units of 8th Army in the Pusan Perimeter. Our platoon was located on a hill above the Company CP. A mortar squad from the 4th Platoon that was attached to us was dug in in a small depression not far from the Platoon CP. The mortar squad was in a naturally protected area, but an attack could come from any point around the perimeter. We could still see smoke rising from the village we torched two days ago. There was no shade on this hill; we cut down a few small bushes for a better observation and field of fire.

One squad was dug in on a knoll across the saddle from my position. They formed their own perimeter within the platoon’s perimeter – not a good situation for them if an attack came between us and the squad because we would have the enemy in crossfire and might shoot some of the squad inadvertently. The sun sank behind Sibidang-san. Hall took first turn at guard.

Day 66 - Tuesday 29 August 1950

The sun which arose on the distant ridgeline greeted us with a clear blue sky. The humidity abated and the night air was cool. All was quiet during the night except for outgoing artillery on specified targets. The Deuce Four was in daily conflict with the enemy on Sobuk-san. Our regimental perimeter would be hard to dissolve as a whole unit, but the valleys were open avenues to our rear areas for anyone who wanted to travel them. Patrols were sent out at night and artillery interdiction fire was a great help in keeping the enemy at bay.

There was a lot of wind and not as hot as usual and much less humid. The day was spent improving our position and catching up on some sleep. I had received only three letters so far, each having been forwarded. Hall was my foxhole buddy as George was assigned to hole up with another GI. My hands were in rather good shape except for the damage done by barbed wire. I took first guard so Hall could get some extra sleep. The mosquitoes were still searching for blood once the sun had gone down. I noticed in a distant village that the old folks had started a gnat smoke using straw to produce a low cloud of smoke after dark to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Day 67 - Wednesday 30 August 1950

Through the broken clouds we saw a beautiful sunrise this morning. We welcomed the sun because we felt more secure from an enemy attack after daylight. The North Koreans feared the Air Force planes during the day. We were still maintaining our positions; the situation was static in our area, but the enemy had attacked on our far flanks and was probing in our battalion.

This morning I went to the shower point with the others from the platoon to shave and shower, which was my first shower since leaving Camp Drake almost a month ago.  I continued to wear the same clothes. Back in the platoon perimeter, I had to put on insect repellent to keep the flies off as they were attracted to my clean body. We did not have any toilet articles – only one toothbrush and one Gillette safety razor for the squad. The heat and humidity had returned, but the nights were cooler. Hardly a night went by that B Company on Sibidang-san did not get a knock at the door from Kim. Insect repellent was a must at night to ward off the mosquitoes. Sun set in obscurity through the haze and humidity. Hall took the first turn at guard.

Day 68 - Thursday 31 August 1950

Once again we were thankful for the sunrise, which chased away the fog and the mosquitoes that were a real nuisance during the night. We had not seen any action for several days, so we felt rather secure in our positions. I suppose it was because B Company was out in front of us in their perimeter on Sibidang-san, but we were just as much a part of the regimental perimeter as a rifle company. In fact, our platoon and the two other platoons of C Company held strategic positions and could be a prime target.

We had less than 30 men on the hill, which was not a lot, considering how we were strung out. Each time we went to chow we carried a roll of barbed wire back up the hill and spent most of our time stringing wire. We still had no gloves for our festered hands. We put a few noisemakers on the barbed wire to serve as an early warning system – that is, if the enemy was careless.

The mosquitoes would have eaten us alive if it were not for the insect repellent, and sometimes we ran short of it. The repellant was detrimental to plastic. For example, it dissolved plastic bayonet handles.  In the small villages to our right front near the river, the old people who did not leave built several small fires with rice straw. The smoldering straw created a cloud cover over the village to keep the mosquitoes away.

After the beautiful sunset, darkness closed in and we drifted to our holes to see what the night had to offer. About 11:00 p.m., B Company came under attack. We could see green and red tracers going both directions from machine guns as they exchanged small arms fire accompanied by exploding grenades and mortar around their perimeter. We could hear mortar and artillery exploding on the finger ridges, but could not tell if it was ours or the enemy's. There was a short lull in the battle except for sporadic artillery. Several flares of the same color lit up the sky over Sibidang-san, the signal for the enemy to launch another attack. From our viewing the action, we determined that the enemy was attacking all around their perimeter, pressing the attack with vigor and seeking entrance into the perimeter. We were alerted of a possible enemy attack, but continued to take turns at guard.

Battalion headquarters received a call from B Company requesting a requisition of typewriter ribbons, pineapples, and paper clips. Because of our proximity to B Company, it was logical to tap the 1st Platoon to make good on B Company’s request. They were at a critical junction and withdrawing was not an option. Our squad leader volunteered our squad (Blanton, Bulger, Hall, Vaughn and me) to take the requisition to B Company. "Ribbons, pineapples, and paper clips" were actually code words for much-needed ammunition.  Each of us had two boxes of machine gun ammunition (typewriter ribbons), six hand grenades (pineapples), and six bandoliers of M1 ammunition (paper clips) to carry--not a lot, but maybe enough to stave off an attack.

We left our platoon’s perimeter. They urged us to carry carbines to make our load lighter, but we declined as we felt carbines were not reliable and we would have a limited supply of carbine ammunition. After leaving our platoon’s perimeter, we made our way along a dike toward the direction of the 3rd Platoon, which had been notified not to mistake us for the enemy. We feared most of all our own artillery, passing through enemy troops surrounding B Company or encountering an enemy patrol.

As we made our way along the dike, it was hard to follow in the dark, and the fog had settled into the valley of “no man’s land.” We kept silent and close to each other so as not to lose contact. Once we passed the 3rd Platoon’s perimeter, our squad leader leading the way left the dike and searched for a ridge near the base of Sibidang-san that would lead to the back door of B Company, hopefully. With a seeming lull in the battle, all was quiet for the moment except for sporadic exchange of grenades and small arms fire, which was helpful in guiding us in the right direction.

The beginning of the climb was gentle, but soon became steep and rocky, making our footing unsure. We broke through the fog cover to view Sibidang-san silhouetted against the dark night sky.  An occasional flash from an exploding shell or the light from a flare helped define our terminus. Our squad stopped for a break, so we were glad to rest from the heavy burden we carried. Our squad leader whispered, “Saddle up.” My clothing was wet with sweat and it was cold.  I was not sure I could get up under the heavy burden.

The night air was cool and as we neared the back door, the night air was filled with the aroma of exploding ordnance, small arms, grenades, and the unique smell of William Peter (White Phosphorus). We were startled by a voice shouting, “Go to the right fifty yards.” Our squad leader replied, “Thanks.” They were glad to see us – delighted that they had a few temporary replacements to repel the enemy and for the office supplies for themselves. One of the GIs took us to the top of Sibidang-san to the Company CP. At the CP we could make out the forms of the wounded that had been collected and put in a more secure place, but there was no protection from enemy mortar fire. Our squad leader volunteered to join a platoon down a steep path that had taken the brunt of the main attack from the long finger ridge and were still exchanging sporadic small arms fire. The platoon leader instructed us to stay off the path and take up positions that had been occupied by men who had been killed or wounded. We followed his instructions.

Day 69 - Friday 01 September 1950

The top of Sibidang-san received the first rays of the morning sun--a beautiful sight to behold with numerous mountain peaks projecting up through the dense fog that filled the valley. We kept a low profile until we could make an estimation of the situation. The enemy machine guns that had been raking the area with intermittent bursts of fire most of the night ceased just before daylight. The platoon was in a vulnerable but valuable position, and the situation was precarious at best. We were told early on to keep low and out of sight except for observation. Beyond the perimeter in front of us, the finger ridge projected out about 300 yards. B Company had a squad out-posted on the end of the ridge; they were hit first and cut off by the enemy. Once the squad was silenced, the enemy launched their main attack along the ridge. The platoon assumed that all the members of the squad were dead or no longer an active force. We were taken under fire by an enemy machine gun firing bursts from the finger ridge into the platoon’s positions. Spent rounds dug into any available dirt with a dull thud; other spent rounds ricocheted off the rocks with a whine or made a lot of racket as the rounds rebounded from rock to rock, sending bits and pieces of rock like shrapnel through the air.

Our first sign of the B Company platoon leader, a lieutenant, was after he had been hit in the forehead during the night.  The bandage covering his wound had blood oozing from it in several places and his face was smeared where he had wiped blood from his eyes so he could continue to effectively direct the platoon’s actions. He received orders from the Company CP to counter attack and take the finger ridge. He quickly drafted plans and our squad leader volunteered us to lead the attack. The platoon leader wanted to take part, but we were able to persuade him to stay put due to his condition. We jumped off on the attack, running down the steep path to where it leveled off on the finger ridge.  Once on the ridge we had a lot more protection from the enemy fire directed at us. We took the ridge with little opposition. A North Korean officer who had been shot through the head created an eerie sight by the way he was positioned. We felt that the enemy propped his stiff body in a sitting position.  He must have been anemic, as he lost very little blood. When we searched around the dead North Koreans, we found one who had gathered several cans of C-rations, so we had an early breakfast of pork and beans, ground meat and spaghetti and fruit cocktail.

Two men who had been on the outpost with the squad shouted to us from below the crest of the ridge. They joined us, explaining that they were the only two left of the squad and had slid over the hill to escape the incoming artillery rounds. We hiked up the path to the Citadel to join the platoon. Two P-51 Mustangs roared in, flying close to us. We could see the pilots, who waved to us before diving down through the fog to deliver their payload of rockets and machine gun fire on their strafing run. The planes popped back up through the fog and banked sharply to make another run. Each time they made a run we would exchange waves and thumbs up until they had shot their full nine yards. We had no idea why they were firing, as there were no units out front that called for an air strike unless Colonel Fisher, our Regimental Commander, who did his daily early morning flight of the regimental positions, had directed the air strike on an enemy target. When the fog lifted we could see smoke spiraling skyward from two T-34 tanks on the road. The tanks had been in support of the enemy attack.

As we were leaving, I saw a number of wounded along the way waiting for a South Korean labor party to carry them off the hill. One of the wounded I had known slightly at Fort Hood.  When I spoke with him, he did not make much of a response. I left wondering if he would make it off the hill alive. When we left the back door, we kept two clips of ammo for our M1s and we donated all of our grenades and the rest of our M1 ammunition to the men of B Company since they were a registered charity. We arrived back at our platoon in time for noon chow. We shared our experience with B Company with the other members of the platoon and answered their questions. We were exhausted and sleepy. I was reminded that all of us were working towards retirement. It is amazing how tough and resilient the body is. Hall volunteered to take first turn at guard.

Day 70 - Saturday 02 September 1950

The sun's opalescent rays were refracted by the morning haze as we made our way down the hill to morning chow. While we were eating, several large Korean labor parties were carrying supplies to B Company on Sibidang-san. We counted 22 light machine guns mounted on bipods with shoulder stocks as they trekked along the dike. The day had been long, hot, and not very exciting since our ordeal on Sibidang-san. We were exhausted from lack of sleep, but we continued stringing barbed wire unabated. Our squad leader volunteered to ride shotgun on a Jeep patrol at battalion headquarters to check the main road and bridges for any enemy activities. Darkness had ferreted out most of the available light as we drifted from our little groups to our foxholes for another night of waiting, watching, and weariness. I checked my M1 to be sure it had a full clip and that the safety was on, made sure I had hand grenades where I could find them in the dark, and put on insect repellent.

Hall took first turn at guard.  He awakened me shortly after I went to sleep because the platoon had been alerted by the Company CP that an attack was eminent; everyone was to stay alert on guard. We discussed the message from the CP and considered it another attempt to keep us alert and passed it off as that. About 2200 hours, battalion headquarters ordered the Company CP and the 1st Platoon to withdraw and relocate at battalion headquarters for security reasons. An estimated 700 North Koreans were sighted by B Company and later by our 3rd Platoon. They notified battalion headquarters that the force was heading in our direction, as we held a vital strategic position near the Chinju-Komam-ni-Masan-Pusan Highway.

Pappy thought it was too risky to pull us off the hill, as we might encounter the enemy force in the dark and the time necessary for us to pack up and move would take at least an hour. The three new replacements who had come to our platoon at evening chow were dug in near the back door of our perimeter. The logic of locating them there was that it was the least likely spot to receive the brunt of an attack. The first indication that we might be in for an attack occurred about 2300 hours when the enemy artillery shells came in one after the other. The first shells were on the correct azimuth but a bit too high, skimming over our heads by a few feet and exploding in the rice paddies beyond our Company CP. The second volley of incoming mail was way too high and landed far out in the rice paddy fields behind us. We did not know what to make of it, but we assumed that it was a signal to mark the target area for the attacking force. All was quiet.

Day 71 - Sunday 03 September 1950

About midnight a muffled shot, a flare, passed over our hill at low trajectory from a berry pistol lighting up the night sky like a roman candle on the Fourth of July. Before the flare was extinguished, a grenade exploded followed by “banzai, banzai,” the chatter of burp guns, and small arms fire which erupted, breaking the silence of the night. The attack came around to the right rear of the perimeter and was directed at the Platoon CP and the 60mm mortar position not far from the back door of the perimeter. The Platoon CP was not acting tardy in fear.  They were not eager to open fire until the enemy had substantiated their intentions and until Pappy thought the time was right. When Pappy fired, it was the signal for the Platoon CP to open fire. After about 20 minutes of intense fire from both sides, another flare crossed the hill and all was quiet again. The smell of gun powder and exploding grenades drifted over the hill. The enemy fire was greater in volume than that of the CP because they had a machine gun and far outnumbered the CP.

All was so quiet that I could hear a cricket chirp. Our Lieutenant came running and had me join Hank Bulger and Paul Blanton to my right in the swag beside a small ravine. He sent Carlton Hall, my foxhole buddy, to join the new replacements at the back door in case they became frightened. He whispered instructions to us to take turns in running up the slight ridge to our right rear and fire into the flank of the enemy which was attacking the CP to confuse them and thwart their intentions. He left our position to give instructions to the squad on the knoll and told us to not shoot him on his return trip.

On his return, he stopped in our hole to give further instructions.  As he was whispering, a figure walked erect along the ridge and passed between us and the ravine about 20 feet away. The lieutenant whispered, “There is a slope head.”  I whispered that it was one of the mortar crew. He whispered that the mortar crew had joined the Platoon CP, as they were in the field of fire. As he raised his carbine, the figure walked calm and casual as we hunkered low in the hole to silhouette him on the skyline. The lieutenant pulled the trigger when he was in front of us, hitting him near the hip and making contact with something that produced a shower of sparks on contact. A loud scream followed and then all was quiet. The lieutenant told me to throw a grenade.  I quickly pulled the pin and threw the grenade, which exploded in the ravine. The lieutenant attempted to fire his carbine, but it had jammed. I took another grenade, pulled the pin, cooked it, and pitched it so as to land near the enemy soldier. We ducked and waited for it to explode, but it was a dud. I picked up my M1 and fired three rounds where I thought he fell. We could not see because it was so dark. The lieutenant gave us a few words of encouragement and left for the CP.

We thought it might be over, but another flare lit up the sky and the exchange of small arms fire erupted. We heard the dull thuds of exploding grenades. To our left around the perimeter to the back door we could not tell if they had seen any action. As ordered, we took turns running up the slope and firing into the dark of the enemy flank as they attacked the Platoon CP, then we would run back to the safety of our hole accompanied by a hail of bullets. We did not know who was firing at us, but we thought it could have been the Platoon CP. We fired hand grenades and anti-tank grenades from a grenade launcher attached to one of the M1 rifles. We used vitamin pills to get the extra range as needed. I fired from the shoulder in the standing position as I had been taught in basic training with or without the vitamin pill--an extra booster put in the grenade launcher before attaching the grenade. Paul and Hank fired the grenades from the M1 stock resting on the ground. After positioning the angle of the M1, they used their foot to hold the sling taut on the ground, which minimized the recoil. The squad on the knoll repulsed an attack. If the enemy put the squad out of action, they might use the knoll to launch an attack directly on us. We were in a compromised position since no one occupied my former foxhole. When there was a lull in the battle, we whispered to each other about the situation. We questioned if a lull in the battle indicated the enemy was regrouping for another attack or had taken the hill, overrun the Platoon CP, our platoon or part of our platoon had withdrawn.  Last of all, we wondered if we were the only ones on the hill and perhaps were occupying the hill with the enemy.

Another signal flare crossed the hill to reveal plumes of smoke. The air was heavy with the smell of gun powder, grenades and the unique smell of WP. We knew we were not alone as the small arms fire increased, but we wondered how many had been wounded or killed. We hoped that the sun would make its appearance as the rhythmical firing of flares and the surging of small arms fire, mostly from the enemy, continued unabated. We were becoming uneasy as our supply of ammo was being depleted as we fired into the flank of the enemy. We searched around the hole, feeling for ejected rounds to put into clips in hopes they would fire if given a second chance.

We reasoned that, if the enemy had penetrated our positions, they could attack us in any direction. We kept low so we could see any movement on the skyline while keeping all directions under surveillance as we continued to fire into the enemy’s flank. Our last contact with the platoon was the visit by the Lieutenant several hours ago. As we took an occasional sip from our canteen, we assumed we were still in control of the hill. How could we escape with all this barbed wire around us? We were in our own prison.

As the long awaited day began to dawn, the firing had all but ceased; maybe the enemy had withdrawn or maybe he was in control of the hill. We waited to see. Light began to fill the large river valley crisscrossed with rice paddy dikes.  The hills were dotted with scrub pine trees.  There was little fog. We kept low and were cautious as we looked for the “slope head” that had been shot in front of our positions.  To our surprise, he was not there. At last, we heard voices and men began to emerge from their holes with caution. We counted 19 enemy dead inside our perimeter.  Some of the enemy had crawled up to the parapets of the foxholes and others to the back of the foxholes to be shot dead at point blank range. One enemy soldier who was wearing a Russian helmet was shot with the bullet entering the front of the helmet, going through his head and exiting out the rear of his helmet.  Helmets are a false sense of security.

A few men went out the back door to search through and around the scrub bushes and pine trees surrounding the perimeter to make sure the enemy had withdrawn. A lot of enemy dead had been pulled back by their comrades and were hidden under the low pine trees and bushes. The one shot in front of our hole cried for water (mull) and in Japanese (mizu) most of the night. He was found in the ravine below our position by the men on the knoll.  According to them, he had lost a lot of blood and was in a bad way near death. A GI from the knoll found him and shot him to put him out of his suffering. I could not bring myself to do that.

Each hole had become a perimeter within our perimeter; each foxhole had to operate independently of the Platoon CP, company or battalion. There were less than 30 of us on the hill and we had gone unscathed except for the man from the mortar squad who went to his former position to get his carbine and return to the Platoon CP. On his return he was shot by the enemy, though some thought he was shot by someone in the Platoon CP.

Reflecting back on what SFC Cartwright had said in the guard shack at Fort Hood--that a well-disciplined, properly deployed and led rifle platoon could hold off a company.  I realized it was true. We had proved his point as we held off an attacking force larger than a company to take control of the high ground and dominate the road junction in the valley in their rush to Pusan.

Our Company Commander, with a few men from K Company, along with an Easy Eight tank he commandeered, led a counter attack along the dike road. The tank overheated and had to be ditched early on. The counter attack which started just prior to daylight was successful in reducing scattered remnants of the retreating enemy force. Our squad leader, returning from the Jeep patrol, persuaded the Company Commander to let him return to the platoon. He was granted permission and left the Company CP in the vicinity of battalion headquarters to work his way up the hill through the enemy who were confused by his presence at the rear door of the perimeter. He shouted, “Pappy, I am coming through.” He made the short dash and jumped over the low barbed wire door to the hole occupied by Hall and the new replacements. Shortly after, a North Korean shouted something that mimicked what our squad leader had shouted and rushed toward the rear door to be cut down by the men at the back door.  What a night!

Earlier that night I had written a letter to my brother Jack.  It was still under the sandbag where I had stashed it when the sun went down. I appended a note of last night’s action, which I thought must have been as exciting as the air raids by the Japanese and the dog fights he witnessed in the South Pacific during WWII. Our squad leader put us in for Silver Stars, but he said it was not likely to be granted as most awards would go to the Platoon CP.

An abandoned enemy machine gun mounted on cast iron wheels was positioned near the barbed wire of the perimeter to fire on the Platoon CP. One of the anti-tank grenades we had fired was caught by its fin on the barbed wire about two feet from the machine gun, preventing the anti-tank grenade from exploding. One of the hand grenades we fired from our grenade launcher may have wounded, killed or dispersed the machine gun crew.

Day 72 - Monday 04 September 1950

The sun was a welcome sight, not only for the light but for its warm rays. The night air was cool and uncomfortable. We were surrounded by barbed wire and the enemy. One GI who had been in the stockade commented, “It’s just like being in the Big Eight University without the six months and two-thirds of your pay,” referring to the Eighth Army stockade in Tokyo. The 1st Battalion projected out westward more than any other unit in the Pusan Perimeter and our regiment had been cut off.  The only contact we had with the rear was by radio. All ground communication lines had been severed by the enemy operating in the rear areas of the perimeter. Our sister regiment, the 27th Infantry, ran the enemy road blocks using tanks and trucks interspersed with infantry to deliver food and ammunition to the rifle companies and platoons in their individual perimeters. While we enjoyed a peaceful night, the enemy was busy shooting up the rear areas. We rested a bit during the day as we were still tired from the previous night’s action. As the sun drifted below the horizon, we made our way to our foxholes, waiting for what the night might have in store for us. I took first guard. Hall was fast asleep. The hole smelled of insect repellent.

Day 73 - Tuesday 05 September 1950

The sun came up in a clear blue sky, the night air was cool, and we were beginning to feel the chill of approaching autumn. We made our way off the hill to eat our morning chow at the Company CP. We watched an airdrop of supplies and small equipment in the vicinity of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions located along the Nam and Naktong Rivers to the Namji-ri Bridge. This bridge was later referred to as Vickery’s Bridge due to Lieutenant Vickery, 1st Platoon Leader of F Company, 35th Infantry, and his platoon’s tenacity in defending the bridge. They had been hard-pressed to maintain their position due to lack of critical ammunition needed for the rifle platoons. Though all had been quiet here, the areas across the rice fields had sporadic enemy action. We improved our positions. There was a rumor that our squad would be pulled out of the platoon to protect a piece of artillery brought forward. We put on insect repellent and turned in early. Hall took first turn at guard.

Day 74 - Wednesday 06 September 1950

The sun broke through the scattered clouds to give a little warmth. Although we had another quiet night, we stayed more alert to our surroundings. Sometime after midnight I heard some movement to my right and down the hill from our positions. I picked up a grenade, slipped my finger through the ring, and spoke softly, “Coke.” A reply came back through the night air, “Don’t shoot Scott.”  It was our squad leader.  He was checking our squad and lost his bearings slightly. He was supposed to answer, “Cola,” which was our password for the week, but we could not always remember the password. It was always better to answer in a lot of American English or GI slang. We had a good laugh.  He said, “I will buy the other half of that Coke when we get back to Japan.”

The rumor we heard about our squad being pulled out of our perimeter to provide protection for Battery A, 64th Field Artillery Battalion, came true. The battery was attacked a few days ago. Our assignment was to guard a 155 Howitzer of the 90th Field Artillery Battalion that was brought forward by our Regimental Commander, Colonel Fisher, to place fire from Komam-ni on The Notch beyond Chungam-ni.

We were assigned positions and had our evening chow with the artillery unit.  The artillery men were glad to have us defend them. They related to us the attack by the enemy that left seven dead and twelve wounded in close combat. They were still nervous and warned us to not approach them after dark, as one of their own men had been shot the night before by a man on guard. Most likely he did not know the password and they were all too jittery. They fed each other’s fears, which resulted in being apprehensive. By dark we had dug in along the railroad tracks beyond the shacks. We felt rather secure being off the front line. The artillery men fired at intervals around the clock unless they had a fire mission. I took first turn at guard.

Day 75 - Thursday 07 September 1950

The sun had no work to do this morning.  The air was crisp and the sky was clear and blue. The firing of the Howitzers during the night did not bother my sleep habits. Life was far different in the rear support units than on the front line in a rifle squad. Being in the rear, one got more rumors and information about the tactical situation. I had never been around an artillery unit.  The men were friendly, afraid of the dark, and very nervous. They would not fit into a rifle squad as they are too trigger-happy.

The purpose of the 155 Howitzer, named by Colonel Fisher, "The Little Professor," was to fire on The Notch beyond Chungam-ni to hopefully deprive the flow of supplies to the North Korean’s 6th Division, whose history according to Allied Translator & Interpreter Section (ATIS) went back to 1942 when the Chinese communists formed a Korean Volunteer Army largely of deserters from the Japanese Kwantung Army which had a combat hardened quality and efficiency that proved to be a professionally competent fighting unit. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Infantry Regiments of the North Korean’s 6th Division proved their ability as warriors in attacking Kaesong and crossing the Han River to capture Kimpo Air Field and Inchon. They turned south to take Kunsan, Chonju, Mokpo and Suncheon before turning east to take Chinju. From Chinju they took Chungam-ni and sought to take Masan and their final objective, the port city of Pusan. The 105th Armored Regiment was attached to the 6th Division.

Day 76 - Friday 08 September 1950

The sun took the chill away and shed light on the varied arrangements of shacks that made the little village of Saga. Last night our sleep was disturbed often as artillery men sent outgoing mail to known and unknown addresses. The 155 Howitzer fired twelve rounds an hour at The Notch and Chinju Pass – one round every five minutes--three rounds in a row at the beginning of the hour and nine at the end of the hour or all twelve rounds in rapid fire during the hour. The intermittent firing continued all night in hopes that the enemy and the rounds would all arrive at the same place at the same time at The Notch or at the Chinju Pass.

We began to stir around once it was full daylight, and we made our way to the chow line of Battery A. After chow, we went back to our hole that we had dug upon arriving. We made our shelter half a lot more secure with some straw rope we found in the village, and we drove the stakes into the railroad bed a bit deeper, which was hard to do due to the gravel road bed. During the day a spotter plane located possible targets and called in fire orders to The Little Professor and directed the firing. The village had a foul odor and later in the day the heat and humidity increased the stench, but the smell of burnt powder from the Howitzers made for a unique aroma.

Late in the day an incoming round of high explosives exploded on the ridgeline to our front several hundred yards away. We ran to our foxholes as another round from the enemy Howitzer came screaming in and exploded on the same azimuth, but closer. We were up on our knees when we heard the enemy Howitzer send another round which came screaming in.  We ducked down just as it exploded about 200 yards away. We raised up again just in time to hear the enemy Howitzer fire as it sent another round screaming in. We were quite excited about seeing who would be the last to duck down in the hole. We stayed up as long as it was feasible before ducking as the deafening scream ended in a violent explosion that shook the earth.  Our shelter had come down on us with one of the stakes.

As the dust settled on us, the aroma of brimstone filled the air. We thought we had been hit and began to laugh as another round screamed its way toward us. We were waiting to duck, but it was too high as they walked it about 200 yards to our rear. There was one more round, but we were out of the hole looking around when it screamed overhead and landed on the hill above the village. The enemy was walking the rounds at intervals in the right direction, but evidently did not have an observer to coordinate the firing. The shell that hit about ten feet from us had impacted on the flange of the rail and into the road bed between the crossties before exploding. A part of the flange had been sheared or broken off by the shell just before it entered the ballast of gravel and dirt. A piece of shrapnel had cut one of the stakes in two, splitting the shelter in half in unequal pieces before it fell on top of us. The shelter half had several small holes from flying ballast and shrapnel. Had the shell been on our left a mere eight feet, it would have hit directly behind us.  Had it been five feet lower, it would have joined us in our hole. The rail was made by TCI in the States. An officer came to check where the shell exploded to collect shell fragments to study and analyze so as to determine the type of Howitzer, as well as its origin. We tried to be helpful.  Some officers we could tell, but we couldn’t tell them much. We set to work repairing our lean-to, but we needed another shelter half and a stake. We were elated with the excitement the artillery shells had provided. We joined the artillery men for evening chow. As darkness closed in on the village, we drifted to our various positions. I took first turn at guard.

Day 77 - Saturday 09 September 1950

If we were on the last turn of guard, we were always awake to greet the morning sun. The night air had a bit more of autumn, but the days could be rather hot. I wrote a letter to Mom. Life was much different behind the lines – more relaxed. A lot of trucks and Jeeps going and coming created a lot of dust as they transported essentials to the front and rear echelon brass. The men were more likely to shoot one another after dark. I suppose this was to be expected with so many enemy soldiers operating in rear areas at night. There was no consolidated line like they had in Europe during WWII.

I watched with interest when a fire order came in – the gun crew of the 155 going into action. A canister containing the powder charge was opened.  It consisted of the main charge and several smaller graduated charges, each in its own individual cloth bag. The proper charge was made up and tied together; the unused charges were tossed into a pile away from the Howitzer. While this was being done, another man with a long pole with a hook on the end hooked the open ring screwed on the end of the shell and pulled it on to a small cradle-like sled. The eye ring was unscrewed and removed so the desired fuse or detonator could be screwed in its place. The fuse could be for aerial proximity, to detonate on impact, or one of many other types of fuses. Two men picked up the sled with the projectile resting on it and carried it to the Howitzer, where another man rammed it into the breach. The powder charge was placed in the breach and the lid was closed. A small blank shell was placed in the breach plug. When the command was given to fire, the men covered their ears and the lanyard was pulled.  The Howitzer recoiled quickly and returned slowly to its original position.  The shell left the muzzle in a large cloud of smoke. Standing behind the Howitzer, I watched the shell spiral in a steep trajectory until it reached its zenith and started down. The shell increased its speed downward and was lost sight of in the distance as it sped to its target.  All of this was accomplished in a matter of minutes. Though they continued their fire mission, they had time to relax and sleep.  This was never the case in a rifle company. We enjoyed the benefit of being in the rear.  However, when we got to our foxholes, we were aware that there could be an attack.

We explored the village for anything of value. I found some stamps and Korean money. I wrote two letters home – one to Dad and one to Warren, and sent the stamps I found to Jack. We enjoyed eating with the artillery unit and talking with them about their operations. We went to our foxholes. I took first turn at guard.

Day 78 - Sunday 10 September 1950

The sun broke through the broken clouds to greet us. I went to church services today. The meeting was in a building that looked like a sheep shed. The Chaplain from Texas pressed the message of Christ, and, at the end, asked for any who wanted to trust Christ as Savior to raise their hand.  Several responded. He spoke in an earnest, urgent manner, pressing the need of being saved not only for time, but for eternity.

On our way back I spoke to Hall, and we perceived that things were going to happen in a few days that would result in some men being killed. Perhaps there would be a large scale attack, but how could that be when we were being attacked all along the perimeter at some point?  I found more money, some of which was worn.  Perhaps it was Japanese occupation money. Some of the stamps I found were new. The day passed rather quickly and darkness settled in around the buildings. We sought out our foxholes to spend the night. Unlike the artillerymen, we had two hours on and two hours off duty.

Day 79 - Monday 11 September 1950

The sun was a welcome sight to take the chill out of the air. The road traffic was heavy along the main Chinju-Masan Highway. The vehicles left a swirling trail of dust that settled on everything in the vicinity. The rain a few days ago did little to settle the dust. We loafed around during the day among the numerous buildings along the road and railroad tracks and picked up the bags of powder from the large pile of discarded powder not used in the charge. The powder had been extruded into small cylinders, pellets with tiny holes to facilitate rapid burning when ignited in the Howitzer. We used it to build fires to make our C-ration coffee. The pellets were slower burning than gun powder. As always, we had a marked tendency to over-do things. While starting the fire, a hefty amount of powder was tossed into the fire and the flames leaped skyward, setting the thatched roof on fire. The thatch burned briskly at the beginning, then smoldered. We used a short pole to knock the burnt part to the ground. I found more Korean money and stamps, which I planned to send to Jack to add to his large collection of stamps. There was very little activity here except the outgoing mail all hours of the day and night. As darkness settled over the village, we went to our foxholes to wait, look, and listen.

Day 80 - Tuesday 12 September 1950

The sun was welcomed each morning to take the chill out of the air and to disperse any enemy that might be in the area. After noon chow I went into one of the shacks to write a letter, but each time the 155 was fired the ground and shack shook, resulting in bits and pieces of the wall crumbling and falling. The wall consisted of a mixture of dried clay and straw, and a cloud of dust rushed around the shacks each time the 155 was fired. The paper I was using to write the letter was found in one of the buildings. I vacated the shack and found a safer place from the falling debris. The artillerymen had been busy firing for the rifle companies. As the shadows of night closed in we went to our foxholes to wait, look, and listen.

Day 81 - Wednesday 13 September 1950

The sun was a most welcome visitor with its warming rays. The night air was cool and toward morning it was uncomfortable. If we were in a tent or a shack, it would not be bad, but there was not much protection from the cold in a hole in the ground with a shelter half overhead.  We could use a field jacket. The days were pleasant and a beautiful time of the year was approaching, except where the dust had mutilated or killed the vegetation. Late in the afternoon we got a surprise when our company marched into the area. They were pulled off or out of the perimeters and put in Battalion Reserve – for how long we did not know. We had evening chow with our platoon and company.

In the presence of our squad leader, we had to take our Chloroquine--a large white tablet the size of a horse pill, to prevent malaria. We always took them at chow time. I threw the pill as far back in my mouth as possible and chased it down with GI coffee, which was almost as bitter as the pill. If it failed to go down, I took it out, put it on my mess gear, and continued to eat until the numbness subsided before I tried again and again until it went down the hatch. I wish it had been in the form of a shot instead of a pill.

We were surprised that we had some hastily-trained South Korean replacements to fill our ranks. I do not know why the South Koreans attached to us had to take the Chloroquine. I guess it was Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). One of them chucked the pill into his mouth after eating as though it was an after-dinner mint. He was confronted with an interpreter who was a South Korean, and he instructed him to take the pill--which he did not do willingly.

We said farewell to the artillerymen and packed our earthly possessions to join the company hiking to our new positions, where we relieved A Company.  This time we occupied the positions across the main Chinju-Masan Highway from the positions we held after counter-attacking for A Company about two weeks ago. Our squad leader picked up three of the South Koreans – Jonta, Pete, and Archibald. Most of us resented having the Koreans attached to our ranks for a variety of reasons.  They included lack of communication, whether they could be trusted on guard, and the smell of garlic. Sometimes the smell of garlic was a tip-off for an enemy attack if the wind was blowing in our direction. We did not have to dig holes since we assumed the positions of A Company. I went on first guard and let my Korean sleep.

Day 82 - Thursday 14 September 1950

With a Korean for a foxhole buddy, I did not know if I would see the sunrise this morning. I had a hard time sleeping with a Korean man (“Han-guk”) in my foxhole. We had been away from our platoon for a few days, so it was good to be back in the platoon catching up on the latest news from the other members. A number of rumors were floating around as to what we could expect. I had already guessed some of the rumors, since the last time the Chaplain spoke, he was dead serious as he pressed the notion that many may be killed or wounded in the days to come and the need to trust Christ as Lord and Savior. The North Koreans had not launched another major attack against the 35th Infantry sector since they were stopped in several battles at the first of the month. I felt a lot better with all of our company in the vicinity.  I was confident that C Company could cope with any situation, but I was not sure about the new Korean replacements. We drifted toward our holes as the day drew to a close, awaiting the long night and wondering what may be lurking in the nooks, crannies, and villages.

Day 83 - Friday 15 September 1950

When we were on our way to morning chow, the morning glow of the sun was a welcome visitor to counter the chill that filled the valley. We could use a field jacket to make life more comfortable. I heard a cough and knew that the enemy had taken us under fire with his mortar. We ran toward the crest of the hill along the trail, then stopped at the swish of the incoming round that exploded to our right--the correct range, but too far to the right. We did not have to be told that we must get out of sight of the enemy observer as we heard another cough and another swish as the incoming round exploded in a depression to our left front. We never stopped running until we crossed over the crest. The men from A Company told us the target area, so we knew we were safe. It was strange that the enemy had only one zone – perhaps to save ammunition.

We continued for another 200 yards to the chow line, laughing and joking about the Korean People's Army (Inmin Gun) trying to keep us from eating chow. On our return trip we ran the gauntlet, but there were no incoming mortar rounds to greet us. The Koreans attached to us had their own chow – rice rolled into a ball and wrapped in a cabbage leaf, some fish heads, and kimchi. The smell filled the air.

During the day it was warmer, but the sun finished its duty for the day and vanished out of sight behind the distant hill. The cool evening air advanced as the warmth of the sun retreated. We tried to use ponchos for protection from the chill. I let the “Guk” take first guard.

Day 84 - Saturday 16 September 1950

The dawn of the new day revealed the light fog covering the valley. As we went to morning chow there was no mortar fire.  Perhaps the enemy could not see us. We stayed in our holes most of the day. If we stayed out of our holes or formed groups to hear the latest, we were subject to enemy mortar fire. We could hear and see a lot of artillery and small arms fire, as well as air strikes in the hills to our far left. We thought it was the 24th Infantry Regiment on the attack, but when night came they were still making a lot of fuss over the real estate, so it must have been the Deuce Four who could not or would not come to grips with the reality of war.

We ran the gauntlet for evening chow and received the normal ration of three rounds from the enemy gunner. His aim was wide of the mark, but we did not know when he would find the mark, so we did not take any chances. Hall mentioned that if the enemy killed us all, the mortar crew would be out of a job. According to poop deck intelligence, we were supposed to jump off on the attack this morning. Someone said that the 27th Infantry was trying to clear out the enemy in the 24th Infantry’s sector before we started the big push.

We missed not being able to congregate each evening before dark for prophesying and philosophizing on mundane matters of concern, to discuss the war, or decide how the war should be prosecuted.  There was always a lot of debate, discussion, chiding, and laughter. The discussion of pay never came up as a topic, though someone said that, as a private, he figured he made two dollars and forty-six cents a day. In my head, I calculated roughly that, as a Private First Class, I was making two dollars and sixty-three cents a day – about sixteen cents more on the day than a Private. Why should we draw our pay on the first day of each month when there was neither time nor place to spend our money?

I let my “Guk” take first guard, as it was not likely that we would have an attack until later in the night.  I always kept in the back of my mind that a dawn attack could be launched when half of us were gone to morning chow.

Day 85 - Sunday 17 September 1950

In the fog with the approaching dawn of a new day, we made our way over the trail to morning chow. We did not run this morning, as the enemy could not observe us. We were still marking time, waiting orders to jump off on the attack.  Rumor had it that we would not move up the highway to Chungam-ni, The Notch and on to Chinju until the Deuce Four, with the help of the 5th and 27th Regiments, cleared the mountains to our left – the mountain road to Chindong-ni. I am sure that if Colonel Fisher had the responsibility in that sector, he would clean it up in a hurry.  He knew how to handle weapons at all levels in an effective manner. He was not a man of wigs and hats or all hat and no cattle – no showmanship or nonsense, but military ability.

On our return, the fog had lifted. There were another three rounds of mortar fire as we ran the gauntlet from chow. Only one man that I know of got hit with shrapnel.  He was not hit on his way to chow, but a round fell wide of the mark near his position. He was treated by Doc, our aid man, who said the wound was not serious. Several rounds were too close for comfort, so we were glad they were small mortar rounds.

After dark, our squad leader was summoned to the Platoon CP and was given the order of battle. He came to tell each of us and to explain that we would be moving out on the attack tomorrow. The thought of attacking filled me with excitement, and I found it hard to go to sleep. I had a hard time adjusting to the Korean in my hole--not as a person, but because of a language problem in case of an attack.

Day 86 - Monday 18 September 1950

Through the dawn’s early light, we made our way up the slight rise to the saddle. We heard the cough of an enemy mortar and started our dash of about a hundred yards across the saddle. The swish was not long following the cough with an explosion of the incoming morning mail sending the shrapnel whizzing with its varied sounds through the air in search of human flesh. We always felt better once we were across the saddle. When we heard the cough, we ran; when we heard the swish, we ran with more determination. We got a few rounds in our positions, but we were well dug in and, unless it was a direct hit, we were in little danger.

We got our chow and sat down on the sparse grass to eat, laughing and joking with one another. Our squad leader joined us, but he had a different slant.  As he looked around the members of our squad, he remarked that we should take a good look at each other because some of us would not be eating chow tonight. We did not have to be told that--we lived with death every day. We always enjoyed eating together, as that was the only time we saw some of our buddies.  We looked forward to general conversation, joking and laughing to maintain our sanity. We were well aware of the danger that existed.  Just then, that very moment, a mortar round or an enemy ambush could alter everything.  We did not dwell on things we had no control over, but left them to God's divine providence.

We walked back to our positions across the saddle. Some tanks rumbled along the road.  B Company, which had been on Sibidang-san, joined the tanks and the show was on the road. The attack was up the road toward Chungam-ni. C Company was to take the hills to the left of the road to secure the left flank. A Company was in battalion reserve. The 2nd and 3rd Platoons led the attack in C Company’s sector.  Our platoon was in company reserve.

By midafternoon we had taken our objective against light opposition. B Company advanced several thousand yards against no opposition until the slack had been taken out and the enemy began to contest the ground. Tanks, mortars, artillery, and small arms fire chatter could be heard on the road. The order was given for us to dig in a defense perimeter.

Later we began to receive sniper fire from the next hill in front of us. The 1st Platoon was ordered to clear the hill of snipers. Pappy, our Platoon Sergeant, laid out the plan of attack. The 2nd Squad was to take the high ground; the 1st Squad was to take the ground at the drop off to the right of the power pole; and the 3rd Squad was to secure the ridge halfway between the top of the hill and the road. When Pappy gave the command to move out, we initiated the attack. I was first scout in our squad, so I ran over the ridge and started down the steep hill to the valley below. If I moved quickly, the enemy would have a difficult time taking me under fire. Once I was at the bottom and started up the hill toward the enemy, the hill would provide protection and concealment from enemy fire.

As I started up the hill toward the objective, enemy mortar rounds began to fall on the hill I had just come down. Hall was second scout and was close behind. The mortar rounds made me climb the steep hill more quickly toward my objective. In Leadership School and by WWII veterans at Fort Hood, we were taught the closer one was to the enemy, the less danger there was of enemy mortar or artillery fire. The supporting fire of D Company’s heavy water-cooled machine guns with their distinctive sound and the light .30’s from platoons of C Company were being directed on the crest. I used the power pole to guide me to the objective.

As I neared the crest, I started looking for targets and fired from the hip and shoulder. The chatter of small arms fire made it difficult for me to determine from where it was coming. When I reached the crest, I crouched down and crawled upon the ridgeline with the sharp drop off of the hill to my left. The supporting fire was just over my head and all too close for comfort as spent rounds whined, whizzed, snapped, and popped close to my ears, showering me with dirt as they hit the earth with a dull thud. I scanned the ridge in front of me that joined at the top of the hill. Since there was no sign of the enemy, I turned and motioned for the squad to join me.  Some were still strung out halfway down the hill. Hall joined me saying, “Misery loves company,” referring to the heat and the steep climb. I shouted for them to stop the supporting fire. An enemy machine gun took us under fire but could not hit us due to the drop-off forming a natural defilade. The 2nd Squad secured the top of the hill and the enemy machine gun which I thought was our own support fire ceased. The only casualty in taking the hill was the first scout, who was shot dead as he reached the crest. The 3rd Squad to our right had no opposition in reaching their objective.  All was quiet except for an occasional distant shot.

The 2nd Squad occupied some holes that had been dug by GIs a few weeks ago. At least the few trees that dotted the top of the hill provided some shade from the heat of the sun. The small arms fire continued on the road where B Company was still engaged. The shadows of the late afternoon began to fill the valley. Our company had completed digging in and we were to withdraw at any time. As B Company secured their objective, the firing all but stopped on the road. We started receiving some small arms fire again from the ridge in front of us.  The day was now far spent as the darkened shadows filled the valley and the sun nearing the horizon was casting a beautiful warm glow on us.

An enemy machine gun began to rake the top of the hill with sporadic fire. The forces that had been opposing B Company had worked their way up on the other side of the ridge to launch a skillful counter-attack. Once the machine gun opened up, the tempo of small arms fire escalated, and all three squads were taken under fire with the main thrust on top of the hill. I do not know why we became so important. An enemy soldier crawled up on the distant ridgeline opposite me and squatted down. He was well-camouflaged and would not have been noticed had I not seen him move into position to fire. Raising my M1 rifle, I fired three rounds in great haste as he slithered away for protection on the back side of the ridge. I may have hit him, but in my haste I may have missed him. Our squad leader left to join the battle that was erupting into a fierce battle on top of the hill. A replacement with whom I had entered the 1st Platoon on August 7 came to where we were with his hand cupped under his eye. I took a close look and could see he was holding his eyeball close to his cheek. It was forced out when a burp gun’s spent round entered his eye socket, followed the contour of the eye socket, and forced his eyeball out as the round exited. I shouted above the noise of battle for him to retrace his steps and join the company. I told him not to worry; he was heading for the States.

Our squad leader returned from the top of the hill and gave me his rifle to keep for him until we met again.  I did not question why.  He returned to the fray on top of the hill.  The battle slacked off on our squad and the squad on our right. At the top of the hill grenades were being exchanged – exploding and sending shrapnel in all directions. The ownership of the mount was being hotly contested with no let up. No supporting fire could be employed from C and D Companies due to the close combat. We were engaged to a lesser extent and could not place effective fire on the enemy. We could fire on the flank, but the enemy for the most part stayed over the ridge.  There was not enough room for us to join the 2nd and 4th Squads at the summit. We deprived the enemy the privilege of attacking the hill top from the flank.

Pappy received a call from the company for the platoon to withdraw and join the company. The top of the hill was an inferno with clouds of smoke rising from small arms fire and exploding grenades as they were tossed back and forth. It was a desperate struggle to control the mount. In the dusk of the twilight, Pappy shouted for us to back down the hill and cover our own withdrawal until supporting fire from our company could take over. Once we were part-way down the hill, the machine gun and mortar fire began to pelt and pin the enemy down, but some of the enemy had side-slipped down the ridge to take us under fire as we struggled up the hill to join the company. Thankfully, the distance and evening shadows kept their fire from being effective.  We had no protection and were at their mercy until we reached the crest.

The steep climb, dry canteens, no food, and the heat of the day and battle had taxed us physically. When we reached the crest we laid down exhausted. The sun had set, leaving the scene of battle behind the distant hills.  I did not feel like digging a foxhole in the dark. As we began to collect our thoughts and relate the events of the day, we realized that all four squad leaders had been shot dead. In the darkness, several men said they saw our squad leader firing a BAR and that he was not using the bipod. Instead, he was behind a man who was sitting in front of him so as to rest the BAR on the man’s shoulder while firing at the enemy.

We were so shot up that our Company Commander sent us off the hill to reorganize, to provide security for the tanks on the road, and to prepare to take the hill tomorrow morning. Though it was dark and difficult to see each other, we knew the voices that were missing as we ate our evening chow of C-rations. I was so thirsty that I ate only part of my can of C-rations of ground meat and spaghetti because there was not enough coffee to wash it down. We dug shallow holes above the road overlooking the tanks that were just off the road. I took first turn at guard.

As I sat in the cool night air pondering the day’s action, my mind drifted back in time to when I was a small boy and my mother played our old piano and sang a hymn that someone had written. As I recalled a part of it, I substituted a few words to put it in my day’s context.

Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest (tumult) is done,
Hope for the sunshine (sun setting) tomorrow,
After the shower (battle) is done (won).

I could hear Hall breathing and sleeping peacefully as a baby. All was quiet except for a few isolated shots in the far distance and outgoing mail.

Day 87 - Tuesday 19 September 1950

Shortly after midnight, Hall gave me a shake and said, “Scott, misery loves company."  I responded rather quickly, thinking that we were in trouble, but Hall informed me that C Company was under attack by the enemy across the saddle from the hill from which we had withdrawn. Our Company Commander called Pappy to send some men down the road with a tank through B Company, which was to place fire on the hill where the enemy launched the attack. Our mission was to break up the counter-attack. We were cautioned to not fire into C Company positions.

Pappy sent six of us down the road with a tank which was buttoned up tight. Our only communication with the tank crew was the tank’s outside phone. Once we passed through B Company, we continued about a half mile to where we were able to fire on the objective. The tanks fired several rounds on the hill. I climbed up on the tank deck and managed to get the .50 caliber machine gun pointed in the same direction as the tank’s 76mm cannon.  With Hall’s help I managed to fire a burst.  The tracer indicated that I was low, so I walked it up the hill and fired several bursts on the objective into the enemy positions.  It stopped firing as I had expended the remaining rounds in the belt. In the dark and not being accustomed to a .50 caliber, we were unable to put another belt in the machine gun so we climbed down. I loved the distinctive sound of the .50, and the tracers looked as large as ping pong balls floating through the darkness to the ridgeline. My brother Warren, who served in the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division in WWII, said a .50 was excellent in breaking up German counter attacks. We withdrew through B Company without incident to our position to spend what was left of the night.

At daybreak, like any 19-year-old, I was hungry and shivering from the cold morning air. I wished for a field jacket, as a fatigue jacket provided very little protection from the advancing cold. When I remembered the can of C-rations I had left outside of the hole last night, I picked up the half-full can and ants ran over my hand, getting out of the way.  I used my GI spoon to ferret out any that remained, and finished off the can, saving Hall a bite or two.

After chow there was a new line-up. I was no longer a first scout, and it surprised me that I had lived long enough to learn a new trade as an Assistant BAR Man to Hall.  He had volunteered to take the BAR position and had volunteered me to be his assistant. There was no increase in rank or pay.  As a PFC, it was still $2.63 a day. For Hall, the BAR was a very heavy load. Hall possessed a good sense of humor.  Without it we could not have endured the grime, grind, grunt, gritty, and grisly life in a rifle platoon in combat. I told Hall that his BAR and 20 clips of ammo might not be misery, but they indeed loved his company.

After chow we went to the ammo trailer, where I picked up two bandoliers for my M1 and part of a belt of ammo for a machine gun.  I looped them around my neck and tucked the two ends in behind my cartridge belt. We started the climb in the cool morning air to join C Company. None of us were overjoyed with the prospect of retaking the hill from which we had been ordered to withdraw yesterday. Our Company Commander’s philosophy was, “If you lose it, you have to take it.”  He would not let anyone off the hook of a task or mission.  He would not let his soldiers become wimps.  We had to do our job--no backing down or out of our task.  Everyone thought a second time before withdrawing, even when the order was given to withdraw. They needed his philosophy in the Deuce Four. Our Company Commander, 1st Lieutenant Bonnie Pannell, was a splendid leader. No soldier wanted to let him down or disappoint him.

As we lay around waiting for an air strike before attacking the hill, we swapped yesterday’s history. Hank Bulger and Staley told how Walter McGettigan was wounded. I had known Walter from my second day in the platoon when we went for water. Walter was an easy-going, red-headed Scotch-Irish lad who was always pleasant to be around. The three of them were in a hole that was partly dug by A Company some weeks ago and did not provide much protection. They were firing at the enemy as they appeared.  When the tempo of the battle escalated, an enemy machine gun and small arms fire forced them to duck down, then up again between bursts of fire, spotting and firing at the enemy as they were creeping and crawling up the ridge to engage them at close range. Hank said they were like a Jack-in-the-Box. Walter was between the two of them. He took out of his pocket a piece of C-ration orange jellied candy he had saved, unwrapped it, and made a joking comment that he had better eat and enjoy it before he was killed. He offered them a bite, but they declined. While he was eating, there was a burst from the enemy machine gun and all fell forward against the rim of the hole for protection from the hail of bullets. Hank and Staley rose up instantly to return fire, but Walter stayed in the forward position. They assumed he was eating his candy. There was another burst, causing them to duck down for cover before rising again to return fire. Walter did not rise up to join them. When he did not respond to their comments about eating his candy, they pulled him back to see a small amount of blood on his face where the spent round had entered the center of his head between his eyebrows. He was still breathing, but had been knocked unconscious by the impact of the round.  In examining him, they found that the round had started to exit and was protruding slightly out the back of Walter’s head. They could not believe that Walter was still alive and breathing. The enemy was swarming into the positions and they were throwing and receiving grenades from the enemy and throwing the grenades back. The firing was at close range and some engaged in hand-to-hand combat. When the order was given to withdraw, they had to leave Walter behind.

The 2nd Platoon was to join us for the attack. Pappy Mills had just returned from his flight over the hill to make an assessment and plan the attack which our lieutenant, the platoon leader, should have done. Our Company Commander, like the rest of us, knew that the lieutenant lacked the essential qualities of a combat leader. He was an MP and we did not think he could direct traffic. We had two previous platoon leaders who were capable, but they were sent to other companies in the regiment to be Company Commanders. Only two P-51s arrived for an air strike. Our CO radioed that he wanted a full sortie of four planes or he would take us off the hill.  He had guts and some to spare. There was a short delay, but we got a full sortie which pulverized the hill top. When the air strike lifted, Dog Company’s water-cooled machine guns began raking the hill as we moved out on the attack with a few rebel yells. Hall was on the job training scheme, learning how to sweep with a BAR. I fired from the hip as we crossed the saddle to attack the enemy on the hill who might be lurking in the nooks and crannies.

One of the attached Koreans (KATUSA – Korean Attached Troops United States Army) fired his rifle into the air until I got him stopped by pointing out where he should shoot. We were sweeping the right flank of the hill toward the top and I feared that the South Korean might shoot some of the men who were higher on the saddle due to the trajectory of his firing. The only enemy that I saw killed was the one Hall shot. We had no casualties in taking the hill. The air was filled with the smoke and smell of exploded ordnance. The air strike had been effective in neutralizing the enemy force – thanks to our Company Commander for his insistence for a full sortie. We spread out to rest while waiting for grave registration and orders to move out. Some were eating C-rations, smoking, or relaxing when a North Korean soldier ran out of a spider hole and threw a grenade among Sergeant Jecelin’s squad of the 2nd Platoon. Without prompting or hesitation, and in the finest military tradition, Bill Jecelin covered the grenade with his body. A muffled explosion followed and Bill was dead – the kind of action you read, hear, or talk about, but we saw it acted out in real life--played out in the presence of all of us. This was no Hollywood fake or drama, but action in real flesh and blood.

Grave registration arrived to collect the dead. We had walked around the hill examining our fallen comrades of yesterday.  It gave me a strange feeling seeing their lifeless bodies. My squad leader had been shot through the head by an enemy operating a burp gun to the left of our squad leader. Our squad leader and another GI were near a tree for protection. The tree was riddled with bullets by the burp gun slugs and our squad leader had leaned forward, allowing several rounds to hit him in the head. He was stripped of all his clothing except his GI shorts. The enemy would use his clothing to disguise themselves and infiltrate our lines. Sergeant Ribac, the Filipino machine gunner and squad leader, had been shot through the neck.  He was fully-dressed and lay stretched out where he fell.  He was an excellent machine gunner, squad leader, and soldier. Walter McGettigan had been decapitated and his head had rolled about 50 feet down the hill, where it came to rest against a small bush. Grave registration was busy loading up the stiffs on stretchers to be carried off the hill. As they were leaving, someone noticed that they did not have Walter’s head on the litter. This was made known to the Company Commander, who immediately stopped the grave registration detail and ordered them to get McGettingan’s head. The man in charge of the detail informed our Company Commander that he would not pick up Walter’s head. Our Company Commander replied in a terse, unrehearsed spontaneous order, “You either pick up Walter’s head and put it on the litter with his body, or they may carry you off the hill on a litter.” We all wanted to cheer, but that would not have been proper. The man from grave registration lost no time in obeying the order. The Company Commander, in his parting remarks to the grave registration detail, said that he would be calling grave registration to confirm that both head and body were checked in. We all agreed that our CO had acted correctly. He was one we would follow and obey at any cost--not that we feared him, or because he had threatened grave registration, but because of his great concern for his men – dead or alive.

We moved off the hill down to the road and joined our battalion in the attack. The BAR and its ammo belt were too much for Hall.  The weight drew his shoulders in. I was glad to see the day end. We went into a blocking position in a field alongside the road, posted a few guards, and went to sleep on the rough ground under a black sky that twinkled with stars. I would have loved to have had a Milky Way just then.

Day 88 - Wednesday 20 September 1950

Long before daylight I was awake. The night was all too short and the morning air had a chill that was very uncomfortable. Our ponchos became wet with body perspiration which condensed inside of the ponchos.  To make matters worse, the condensation dampened parts of our fatigue clothing. Until our body heat dried the fatigue clothing, we experienced the cold more intensely. We needed field jackets--maybe not in the rear area where they slept in vehicles and tents, but in a rifle company where we were out in the elements 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My body was much too stiff when I first got up in the open fields of The Land of the Morning Calm. We were moving up against light resistance and morale was high. We took hills with the small scrub bushes that provided excellent protection for the skulking North Korean die-hards. The North Koreans were excellent soldiers, but for the most part they were poorly-equipped. A first scout was often past the North Korean who was well-camouflaged when the North Korean started firing on the troops behind him. So far, that had not happened to me. We dug in for the night on a low hill not far from the main road.

Day 89 - Thursday 21 September 1950

As I arose early, the sun was not tardy and it would catch up with us later in the day. We left our hill, ate chow, stocked up on ammo, and got our C-rations for noon chow before leaving for work.  “It’s business as usual,” Hall remarked. The 2nd Battalion was given the mission of taking The Notch.  From the sound of things, the assault squads had to dig the die-hards out who were fighting a rear guard action for the North Korean 6th Division. I must give due credit to the brave and dedicated soldiers of the North Korean Army who defended or attacked with equal ferocity and vigor.

Like any other Army detail, do not volunteer, there is always a catch. If the 2nd Battalion needed help, we would be committed to the battle. Late in the afternoon we passed through The Notch and went down the other side toward Chinju. It was sort of a replay of the day I entered C Company at The Notch 46 days ago on August 7. The road was choked with Jeeps, trucks, artillery pieces, and troops moving on foot toward the battle down the road. Just then I was content to wait my turn to smell the powder.  I heard a shout, “Scott.”  It was Paul Taylor, driving his Jeep. The Major whom he drove for was not with him at the time. I walked alongside, holding onto the Jeep and catching up on conversation which had been interrupted 46 days ago when we parted company. Paul took the position as Jeep driver for the Major at 1st Battalion Headquarters, a short distance from The Notch.  Paul was from near Elkins, West Virginia, and was a Jeep driver in D Company, 12th AIB in Fort Hood. The vehicles were moving slower than we Dog Faces, and when the convoy stopped I took leave of him, bidding farewell until we could meet again.  I hustled to catch up with the 1st Platoon. Well after dark we took up positions near the road – glad to call it a day.

Day 90 - Friday 22 September 1950

Before we could rise and shine, we hoped the sun would come up and chase the fog and cold away. We wished for a field jacket to keep the dew and cool morning air at bay. We had C-rations and hot coffee for breakfast and then it was business as usual. When we arrived at the outskirts of Chinju, we learned that the enemy had blown a bridge.  The attack became inert, as the support vehicles could not cross. We were given hot chow for the evening meal. Some of us went up over the road bank behind a few houses next to the road where the kitchen truck had set up the chow line. Carrying our mess gear in one hand and coffee in our canteen cup in the other, we made our way in the semi-darkness in the cotton patch to find a place to eat. One of the men tripped and fell over an object, spilling his coffee and chow.  He had stumbled over a North Korean soldier armed with a burp gun who concealed himself in the cotton patch. He surrendered without fanfare. Vaughn took the prisoner to the kitchen area while we ate our chow. Our CO thought the North Korean was the one who had shot a GI not long before chow since the GI was shot with a burp gun.

The sun had finished its day’s work and turned in for the night. We drew our ammo and C-rations for tomorrow and were sent to occupy a hill on the flank. We were exhausted as we marched along the road.  I was carrying a case of C-rations for our squad. The enemy had blown a small bridge across the shallow stream and all of a sudden the column stopped. A GI up ahead failed to follow the man in front of him who took the detour to the left to a makeshift ford prepared by the engineers. The man behind stopped when he saw the sudden disappearance of the man in front of him. The man had walked, perhaps in his sleep, off the bridge abutment and landed in the stream below. The fall was serious enough that the man had to be evacuated. Anything can happen when one is deprived of sleep.

As we continued up the road toward our positions, I noticed a man on a bicycle riding past us, but I was too tired to think as he got off his bicycle and started walking in our column. The GI in front of me was alert enough to take a few quick steps to catch up with the GI riding the bicycle and investigated who he was. When he spoke to the new replacement who had just joined our squad, he was surprised that he spoke enough broken English to learn that he was not one of our attached Koreans, but a North Korean officer. He shouted for Pappy and the platoon stopped due to the commotion. Pappy came and had the radio man call the CO.  When the CO arrived and assessed the situation, he asked for Pappy’s M1 and said we would take him back to Battalion. The North Korean was an officer, but we could not determine his rank. As we continued our march to our assigned area, we heard a shot and feared that our CO had come to grief. However, he returned and related how the North Korean took a swing at him and he had shot him. We did not dig in, but spread out on the hard ground like a herd of cattle and went to sleep. The night air was cold, so I covered my head and body with my poncho.

Day 91 - Saturday 23 September 1950

Soon after we got to sleep we were called out of our positions. We hit the road and started moving up the road to the lead elements to continue the attack to keep the “Guks” on the run. My brother Warren, because of his experience with the 36th Infantry Division 141st Infantry Regiment, said that once the enemy was routed he had to be kept on the run or the enemy would dig in and would have to be dug out.

The days were beautiful with a splash of fall color and clear blue skies.  The small streams were mere brooks of standing water that appeared abandoned and forlorn, reflecting the fall foliage. We were moving in on the city of Chinju and no doubt would encounter stiff enemy opposition defending the city. We dug in for the night in a blocking position to protect the tanks.

Day 92 - Sunday 24 September 1950

The night was all too short as things began to come to life in our positions. I despised the cold and the damp created by the poncho on my clothing when I had to rise and shine. I had no idea who had been on guard last night or if they even posted a guard. We did not dig a hole. We had been on the move and if we were not moving in the right direction, we fell out with fatigue.  Morale remained high, which kept us going. The enemy dropped another bridge in Chinju to hamper our efforts. The enemy was very skillful in his delaying tactics and the soldiers were willing to fight to the end.

We went into a cotton patch alongside the road to wait for evening chow. Most of us stretched out to rest. My elbow felt damp and I discovered that an enemy soldier who must have had diarrhea had defecated and had not covered it sufficiently with dirt.  It had seeped out to my fatigue jacket. I wish we could have taken him prisoner; he would have been digging a slit trench for a battalion latrine. The sun had had enough for one day and had quietly disappeared behind the distant hill as we went to our new positions to dig in for the night.

Day 93 - Monday 25 September 1950

After being aroused from sound sleep, we joined some tanks on the road and moved into Chinju. The column stopped in a small village where we found the village well and filled our canteens. While I was pulling up the bail on the end of the rope out of the well, a grenade fell from my harness into the well.  We stepped back, counted to five, and resumed drawing water. A truck careened around the corner, shedding a case of C-rations. Hall was quick to grab the case. Our lieutenant tried to take them, but we said we would give them to the CO if we had to give them up. We used the case of C-rations as a food bank for meals in advance that had to be replaced when we were issued C-rations. Everyone was happy with the arrangement except the lieutenant. We kept close at hand while riding the tanks. We moved slowly and darkness overtook us. We were diverted to a field to spend the night.

Day 94 - Tuesday 26 September 1950

After another cold, uncomfortable night and with dew on our ponchos, we were awakened for another day’s work. We saddled up and hiked to the main road to eat our morning chow. We were told that B and C companies were to form Task Force Dolvin and the 89th Medium Tank Battalion was to spearhead the attack from Chinju to Mokpo on the west coast of Korea. We rode tanks and stopped only when resistance made it risky to go on. We were to dismount and knock out the enemy resistance, then the task force was to continue, but hit a snag when we encountered a lot of small arms and artillery fire up ahead.  Litter Jeeps barreled down the road, taking the wounded to the aid station. “Another day, another dollar – if we see any “Guks” we will holler,” was said by some GI loud enough for all to hear.

We stayed on the tanks as they creaked along. When night closed in we kept close to the tank for security and planned to press on the next day. We were tired, but riding the tanks was better than walking. When the tank driver turned the engine off, the deck intake of air for the motor stopped. With the engine off, the heat from the engine came up through the grate to provide us with a degree of warmth. Some spent the night on the tanks.


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Evacuation

Day 95 - Wednesday 27 September 1950

The 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division was awakened by Pappy, MSgt. James R. Mills, our platoon sergeant, as the first light of dawn illuminated the eastern sky, revealing the seeming lifeless forms of men strewn all around. Even as a 19-year old I struggled, as did other men of the platoon, to pull myself free of the hard, rough ground.

We had moved into our positions late the night before, weary from doing battle with the heat, the hills, and the combat-hardened enemy soldiers. As I folded my poncho, I shivered from the present cold. My poncho and fatigue clothing provided little protection, but thankfully my poncho kept the dew at bay. The air was calm and cool.  The ground, covered with fallen leaves of autumn, was wet with dew.  The cadence of crickets and creatures of the night had waned.  A thin layer of fog veiled the landscape, and dog days had passed unnoticed. I buckled on my harness and cartridge belt with attached canteen, entrenching tool, first aid pouch, and two hand grenades before I crisscrossed two bandoliers of ammo over my chest and slung my M1 on my shoulder.

Our platoon joined the rest of the company and made our way to the road where tank drivers had started and were nursing the engines of the Easy Eights (M4A3E8) of Company A, 89th Medium Tank Battalion. We hurriedly made our way through the chow line to pick up our C-rations.  To our surprise, we were issued new field jackets. At the ammo trailer towed by a Jeep, I got part of a belt of machine gun ammo to load clips for PFC Carleton E Hall, our squad’s BAR Man.

Our company and A Company of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion were the spearhead for Task Force Dolvin, named after Lt. Col. Welborn G. Dolvin, Commander of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. We mounted the tanks, scrambling for the most comfortable positions. The tanks lurched forward with the engines being prodded and the creaking of their tracks drowning out much of our chatter and laughter as we moved forward to confront the North Korean 6th Division.  The 6th was a crack outfit known for its many exploits after crossing the 38th Parallel 95 days ago. We were told in the Pusan Perimeter that this division was made up of Korean deserters from the Japanese Kwantung Army who had allied themselves with the Chinese Communist forces in the early 1940s. They were excellent soldiers whose efforts we thwarted on their attempted march to Pusan. Their discipline and tenacious fighting qualities had earned them the well-deserved title, Die Hards. They were fighting a determined delaying action, seeking to thwart our march to Kunsan on Korea’s west coast.

We ate our C-rations and washed them down with water from our canteens. Up ahead we heard the chatter of small arms fire punctuated by tank fire as our 3rd Platoon engaged the enemy. An air strike of four P-51s had been in progress earlier, delivering Napalm, machine gun, and rocket fire.

As we creaked forward slowly, the sound of wailing and screaming competed with other sounds of war entering my ears. I stood up to investigate and saw an old Korean man with gray hair being borne along by three women who were shouting and wailing. Two of the women struggled to hold him off the ground by his arms while the third woman was holding his only leg that was available to help carry him. The old man was alive and alert, though a mangled sight to behold. As I looked down at him, my eyes were transfixed as to his plea for help. The old man had a large protrusion beside his neck and right shoulder.  His right leg at the knee dangled down from his hip and was swinging back and forth.  His white clothing was soiled and spattered with blood. To me, it appeared that he must have been in a near prone position in the road ditch or along a patty dike, and perhaps had been in the direct line of the P-51 making a strafing run at an angle.  One of the spent rounds might have hit him in the knee, driving his thigh bone up through his stomach and rib cage, causing the bulge.   The thigh bone did not exit through the flesh at his collar bone. The tanks kept moving up slowly and the trio with the old man disappeared in the mix of vehicles in the convoy on the narrow road, but the image was etched deeply in my memory with the sobbing and wailing resonating in my ears.

As we came upon a lot of carnage, we encountered many mutilated motorcycles--some with side cars.  There were also trucks devastated by the air strike, loaded with radio equipment and supplies headed for the front line that no longer existed. The road ditches and rice paddy were littered with dead North Korean soldiers riddled with bullets and scorched to death by Napalm from the air strike. Words cannot describe all of the varied details of the scene that is so vivid in my mind – thus the fortunes of war and the changing tide of battle. The sun had reached its zenith and started its decline in a beautiful, clear, crisp, cerulean sky complimented by the autumn accents on the distant hills, but everything along the road was dead, laden with the dust created by the machines of war.

When the spearhead came to a halt, the tankers got out to stretch their legs. We dismounted and walked over to the edge of the road to investigate a North Korean truck that had careened obliquely off the road into the rice paddy. The driver was slumped over the steering wheel of the bullet-ridden truck loaded with ordnance and replacement parts. We could not see beyond the turn of the road, but the intensity of tank, artillery, mortar, and small arms fire beyond indicated that the enemy was determined to make a do or die stand. The tankers heard on their radio that we were waiting for an air strike. We joined our rifle mates who had sought a comfortable position in the shade against the steep road bank while waiting our turn to smell the powder.

Litter Jeep traffic increased, raising clouds of dust as they sped down the road with the wounded to the battalion aid station. Some of the men dropped off to sleep, only to be awakened when there was a brief lull in the battle. Word came back that once the air strike ended, the 3rd Platoon would press the attack on the finger ridge to the right of the road. Swish – and a dull explosion followed to our left. An enemy mortar round mired down in the rice paddy near the edge of the road, exploding and wounding a man slightly. Little did we know that the enemy mortar crew had made an adjustment on the next round that was on its way.  Swish – a 120mm mortar round hit the road in front of the tank, missing it by inches, bouncing about two feet in the air before falling over on its side.  It was a dud.

Instantly, we took cover down in the shallow road ditch listening for the cough, sending another round on its way.  It was unlikely that we could hear the cough because of the ambient noise. Had the round about eight feet away exploded, it would have sent some of us into eternity.

The two B-26 bombers came in low over the column, firing their machine guns and releasing their bombs in the direction of the village of Tansong-ne. The metal belt links from the expended rounds were falling all around. The bombs appeared to be heading for us. Some of us started for cover, but stopped when the men who had seen action in WWII stood watching.  One of them explained and demonstrated how to tell approximately where the bombs would land. He extended his arm, clinched his fist with his thumb up, and, sighting with one eye, positioned his thumb on the bomb.  He explained that if the trajectory of the bomb dropped below one's thumb, the bomb would fall short.  If the bomb rose above one's thumb, it would fall beyond him.  If the bomb stayed concealed behind one's thumb, he must find cover quickly and pray earnestly. I followed his instructions and saw the bomb travel above my thumb and a few seconds later explode in the village, sending up plumes of smoke. I picked up three of the metal links from the B-26’s machine gun belts that showered the ground. They were still warm. I pieced them together as if they were holding the rounds. This was a very clever and intriguing design compared to the cloth belts. I put them in my field jacket pocket as a souvenir.

As Pappy came down the road, he shouted for us to "saddle up." Pappy briefly explained our plan of attack. We were to advance down the road ditch, using it and the tanks for protection from the enemy’s small arms fire. We were to cross behind the lead tank, leave the road, cross the paddy dikes leading to a cluster of houses near the base of the finger ridge where the three squads were to form a skirmish line along the low stone wall and wait for the shout. Pappy and one squad were to attack up the finger ridge. He cautioned us not to shoot one another as we reached the crest. As we moved down the road, enemy fire was sending those ahead of us into the road ditch. We continued on until the enemy gunner singled us out.  His spent rounds snapping near our heads and the whine of ricochets persuaded us to join those in the ditch where it was much harder to walk.

As we left the protection of the tanks and moved quickly to the paddy dikes, word came back for us to look to the right. I was surprised to see Maj. Gen. William B. Kean, our division commander; Col. Henry G. "Hammering Hank" Fisher, our Regimental Commander; Lt. Col. Bernard G. Teeters, our Battalion Commander; Capt. Bonnie Pannell, our Company Commander; and Lt. Col. Welborn Dolvin, Commander of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion.  They were observing the battle from a low ridge leading down to the road about 50 yards away. I am sure they were aware of the danger at such close proximity to the enemy. The entire attack was coming together as a prime example of thoughtful and skillful planning by our leaders. Our officers provided excellent leadership and proved themselves over and over again to be competent in making critical, tactical decisions. Colonel Fisher was considered by his peers to be the best regimental commander in the Eighth Army. In the Pusan Perimeter, Colonel Fisher was adept at executing limited offensives, counter-attacks, and strategies with his three under-strength battalions to deprive the enemy any success in achieving their objectives.

As we made our way across the paddy dikes, there was a thunderous explosion to our left rear. I turned my head to see that one of the tanks had moved forward and a concealed mine in the road exploded as the tank rolled off the mine, shearing off the right rear boogie wheels and track. The explosion sent bits of steel, rock, and dirt into the air. Fortunately, none of us were injured as the debris rained down around us. Artillery and mortar rounds plastered the finger ridge. Clouds of smoke from the village billowed skyward.

The tanks on the road were buttoned up, firing at select targets on the finger ridge. The muzzle blast from the tanks’ 76mm cannons and the exploding 76mm shells on the finger ridge sounded as one simultaneous explosion due to our proximity, raising the decibel level each time they fired. We made it to the low rock wall without incident, taking up positions as Pappy had instructed. Hall was to my left and an attached South Korean (KATUSA) was on my right. A small rice paddy bordered along the edge of the low stone wall and the base of the finger ridge. The paddy was terraced up the draw to the right – a clever work of art and engineering growing out of necessity over many years of skill and labor of love for the next generation. The distinctive sounds of the heavy water cooled .30’s of D Company started resonating in our ears as they began preparatory firing in support of our assault. The machine gunners, especially Sgt. M. L. Scarbro from Anstead, West Virginia, were the best in the business.

While waiting for the shout, I had a premonition that some of us had eaten our last ration or would be wounded by the Die Hards waiting to greet us at the top. We all assumed that KIA, WIA, or DOW did not apply to us, but to the other men. Fear has two children – courage and panic. Courage is less contagious. Since panic is very contagious, it is hard to cure when contracted by an individual, a squad, a platoon, a company, or an adjacent unit. We had learned early in the Pusan Perimeter that courage is not the absence of fear, but fear conquered. David struggled with fear in Psalm 27, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” The best cure for fear is an exceptional, strong leader.

As we kept our eyes on Pappy, in his customary cool, calm, and collected manner, he raised his lean, lanky body upright from behind the low stone wall, raised his right arm high, and shouted above the noise of exploding ordnance, “Let’s go for the top.” The platoon sprang into action with a few rebel yells, jumping over the low stone wall into the muck of the rice paddy water that was halfway to our knees.  We splashed our way to the base of the hill about 30 feet away.

The hill was steep for the first 50 feet and then became more gradual most of the way leading to the top. Hall opened up with his BAR, sweeping a path ahead of us. I fired my M1 from the hip, keeping my eyes focused on the ridge for enemy activity. The hill was sparsely covered with grass and scrub bushes, with several short spindly trees dotting the hillside. We began to receive sporadic small arms fire from the enemy in well-concealed holes.  They were hoping to stall our assault.

As we neared the top, it was more quiet as mortars, artillery, and tanks’ supporting fire stopped. D Company machine guns continued supporting fire, attempting to keep the enemy pinned down. The spent rounds were snapping close overhead, hitting the earth with a dull thud or an occasional whine or twinkle of a ricochet. The gunners knew when to lift their fire or cease firing by observing the tracers. The worst case was for the spent round to become erratic due to a burned out barrel.

As we closed in at the top, all of a sudden it became quieter as D Company machine guns stopped firing support for our final assault. Only our platoon and the enemy were exchanging small arms fire. There were muffled sounds of potato masher grenades exploding, filling the air with the twirling sound of shrapnel, dirt, gravel, debris, and the enhanced smell of powder. I saw a helmet rise from the earth and soar above the short spindly trees as it arced over to my right.  Was it Hall’s? I dared not look, but kept firing and hastened toward the crest only several yards away. The squad attacking up the finger ridge came into view and was closing in quickly at the crest to deprive our squad the honor. PFC Wilburn W. Vaughn was fearlessly leading the charge, firing his M1 alternately from his hip or shoulder as the situation demanded.

As I saw the arm of an enemy soldier come out of the ground, he lobbed a potato masher grenade. I lost sight of the grenade as it transited across the late afternoon sun until it landed several feet up the hill and leisurely rolled and tumbled down on a direct path toward me. I had only about four seconds--less if the enemy soldier cooked the grenade before lobbing it, to make an estimation of the situation, seek a solution and take some course of action as I had been instructed to do in Leadership School at Fort Hood. In close combat one reacts intuitively and instantly within his frame of reference. I ran to the left to avoid stopping the grenade with my body when I hit the dirt as trained, but the grenade exploded. The explosion was overwhelming, hurling me through the air in a semiconscious and weightless condition.  Everything was a blur as I tumbled end over end through the sparse scrub bushes which were a restraint as I rushed by them hitting the ground and coming to rest amazingly in a sitting position facing down the hill. With great difficulty, I tried to get the uncooperative members of my body to function individually or collectively. I was numb and my head wobbled around uncontrollably. I felt helpless and all alone while the battle seemed distant. I had no helmet, no rifle, no pain, and no idea where I was hit until I saw blood on my trigger finger where the skin was peeled back.  Blood was dripping from where a piece of shrapnel had gone through my right wrist. I struggled to orient myself. I called to Hall, who was in a prone position with his head canted toward me.  He did not respond. I uttered a weak call for a medic, but I had no volume. With my left hand I removed the two bandoliers from around my neck before removing the harness, being careful to not get any more blood on my new field jacket. At last I got the field jacket and my fatigue shirt off. My undershirt was covered with blood--the smell and taste of blood.  To realize that it was my own was most disheartening! With my left hand I started searching to find where all this blood was coming from. I located a hole in the back of my right upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. I could feel muscle inside the hole where I inserted two fingers, but this was not the source of the blood flooding my undershirt. I traced the flow of blood up to the right side of my neck where I felt some pain when my head was turned. I found a hole and thrust three fingers into the right side of my neck, but there was no way I could staunch the flow of blood.

All hope of surviving began to vanish as my strength was fading away. I looked at Hall, whose face had all of the characteristics of death, still laying uphill in the prone position. He must have been killed instantly. Death beckoned me to give up, but I remembered the remarks of a lecture drilled into us by one of my instructors, Lieutenant Wells, at the Leadership School in Fort Hood.  He said that, “Most men who are wounded die of shock, not from wounds.” Lieutenant Wells, a superb officer and instructor, had served with the 25th Infantry Division on Guadalcanal and Luzon during WWII. I wearied myself trying to remember his remarks on how to avoid shock. I struggled to maintain the sitting position and called upon the Lord, who alone could save me.

Two men of the 3rd Platoon came up the hill to assist me. One of them shouted for the medic. I began to feel cold.  The bloodied undershirt added to the discomfort with dirt, grass, and leaves adhering to parts of my body and clothing. Time was running out. They got me on my feet as I requested and put my arms around their shoulders to assist me off the hill.  But after the first few steps, everything grew dim and distant. They seemed far away. I told them to put me down with my feet up the hill to get blood to my head so I could remain conscious and be in command of the situation.

The sun departed behind the hill with its warm rays. I was so thirsty, but had no opportunity to quench it. Doc (medic) arrived all out of breath shouting, “Scott, you are okay.  You are okay,” as he hastily plunged the injection of morphine through my fatigue pants into my upper right thigh. The litter bearers arrived and lifted me onto the litter. I told them to get my Gideon New Testament, two letters, and my billfold out of my fatigue shirt packet. I faintly made out the silhouettes of figures looking down from a tank as I was carried to the road. Later I saw something like a stake and figures moving around in a very dim light. I was thirsty. The relentless, reckless jostling in the silent darkness on a truck escalated the epicenter of pain in my neck – very, very thirsty.

Day 96 - Thursday 28 September 1950

No entry, no recollection.

Day 97 - Friday 29 September 1950

As medical staff attended me, I struggled to raise my threshold of awareness to comprehend the dim lights silhouetting the shadowy figures moving about, distant voices, the tug on my leg as my boot was cut and pulled off, the snip, snip of scissors up my leg, my fatigue pants sliding out from under me, thirst – unquenchable thirst, and being awakened by some noise to strange surroundings. It was dark, but light enough to see a ceiling close to me. I moved my eyes to reconnoiter my environment. I was in a large room in the top bunk of a bed surrounded by many wounded soldiers. As I could not raise my head, I felt hopeless. I apprehended it was early morning – so peaceful and tranquil.  As nurses and staff were starting a new day, I was awakened by some noise and lights being turned on. Food was brought to some of the wounded. I had not been in a bed since leaving Japan on August 5 to sail to Korea.

A nurse awakened me and told the Japanese nurse with her to give me a bath. I asked for some water. The Japanese nurse draped a sheet over me, but I have no idea when she started or finished my bath. I was still thirsty and tired when I was awakened by the nurse again to tell me that a Japanese barber was going to shave me. My first spoken words since being carried off the hill were, “Save my moustache,” followed by, “Mizu, mizu, watashi hayaku.” (Water, water, I, hurry.)  I heard him say, “Chotto matte, dozu, mizu, sukoshi tomadchi.”  (Just a minute, please, water, little, friend.)

I was roused out of sleep by a nurse who gave me several shots. Again I made my request for water. I was so thirsty, but the promise to bring me a drink never materialized. I was awakened by light rain falling on my face as they transferred me from an ambulance onto a C-47 or C-54. The erratic whine of the plane’s engines awakened me. I called for a medic, asked for a drink of water, and questioned why the engines were running rough. He explained that during WWII he was one of a crew that flew “The Hump” in China, delivering aviation gas in five-gallon cans.  He further commented that if the engines sounded anything other than erratic I was to call him as we would be in serious trouble. The erratic lullaby of the engines induced me to sleep.

The lurch of the plane as it touched down awakened me. As we were carried off the plane to buses, I read a sign that said, “Haneda Airport – seven feet below sea level.” We were given a P-38 to use en route in case we had to urinate.  How would I urinate lying on a stretcher? I was so thirsty and had no desire to urinate. The bus ride for the most part kept me awake, but not alert, through the narrow streets of Tokyo.

We were carried into reception at Tokyo Army Hospital. Since they could not find my shot records, they proceeded to give me several shots. We were given milk, orange juice, and cookies. This was the first fluid that I had received since being wounded. With each swallow the pain and soreness in my neck and throat were nearly unbearable. I was taken to Ward 2-C where they slid me off the stretcher to a clean hospital bed. My medical records were under the pillow on the stretcher. There were two other men in the room. Just before lights were turned off, the nurses brought a selection of snacks for the patients to eat.

It had been a long day, but before I dropped off to sleep I realized that I could empathize with the pain, torment, and thirst of the North Korean soldier, having vicariously experienced similar pain, torment, and thirst. The North Korean soldier was in the first wave of an attack on our platoon’s perimeter during the night of September 3. He was wounded by a hand grenade and three spent rounds a few feet in front of our foxhole. He managed to crawl down into a shallow ravine through the barbed wire about 60 feet below our position where he begged for “mizu, mizu” between agonizing groans and erratic speech. His distress, anguish of soul, and struggle continued until “mizu, mizu” was only a whisper, a dirge, a death song, a mournful composition, a lament which we listened to through the night--and then not at all. Perhaps at least he had a fleeting memory of a lullaby sung to him by his mother to lull her little boy to sleep as an accompaniment to his departure with the coming of the dawn in The Land of the Morning Calm. How sad! I contemplated the fact that he did not die a natural death. I drifted off to sleep thankful to the God of all Grace that thus far I was alive.

Day 98 - Saturday 30 September 1950

If any noise awakened me I instantly had to reconcile the source of the noise before I could drift back to sleep. The lights came on in the hallway.  Nurses made their rounds checking blood pressures, taking temperatures, dispensing pills, and giving shots. My two roommates had to be awakened. They got out of bed, dropped their pajama bottoms, and leaned across the bed to get their shots. The nurse realized from records that it would be a big task for her as well as for me, so she rolled me over slightly on my right side, pulled down my pajama bottoms, and with her left hand squeezed my left buttock and stabbed the needle to the hilt for 300,000U of penicillin. She said the shot had to be put in deep or the penicillin would form a hard lump.

A nurse brought breakfast. I tried to feed myself with my left hand, but we found it easier, less messy, and faster for her to feed me. I asked her what day it was.  She replied, “Saturday, September 30.” That was my first bite of food since the 27th. They took me to X-ray on a gurney where they made three views each of my head, neck, shoulder, upper arm, and wrist. Back in the room, the Gray Lady left a small package of M&M’s and a pack of cigarettes.

A Captain entered our room and inquired for PFC Charles C. Scott. He presented me with a Purple Heart and a copy of orders which read: "Headquarters Tokyo Army Hospital APO 1052. General Order Number 258, 30th September, 1950, Award of the Purple Heart. PFC Charles C. Scott, Inf. RA 13328908, Medical Holding Detachment, Tokyo Army Hospital (Company C, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division) near Chungju (Chinju Tansong-ne), Korea, 27th September, 1950, entered the service from West Virginia, by order of Colonel Brewer; Edward J Pilewski, Captain MSC Adjutant."  I said, “I apologize for not standing at attention, Sir, to receive this award.” There were 20 names on the list. I noticed that Private Leon L. Lepicier of C Company was wounded on the 19th of September near Haman and PFC George F. Silva was wounded on the 26th of September near Chinju.

I slept off and on during the day and ate noon and evening chow with help from an aide. I had several bruises from the explosion of the grenade. Just before they turned the lights out they brought a few snacks. As I lay there rather helpless, my mind drifted back in time. I recalled a spring day in 1945 when I was a student at Athens High School. Some of us walked down town during lunch hour to the corner of Vermillion Street and State Route 20. My Uncle Brown’s grocery store was on the corner. There were two soldiers sitting on the curb who were hitchhiking back to the Greenbrier Hotel, which had been converted into a military hospital. The two soldiers had been wounded and they entertained us with war stories and answered our questions. Our conversation with the soldiers fired my imagination and thrilled me to no end. I could not wait to join the Army and lay aside my boyhood to become a soldier and to emulate their courage. The crowd drifted back to school for afternoon classes. I stayed until they caught a ride. The one hobbled on his good leg aided by a crutch, dragging along what was left of his other leg. The other soldier with his arm bandaged and in a sling made his way to the car. They opened the door, turned, shouted, and waved farewell. I watched as the car pulled away from the curb until it was out of sight, headed for Hinton. I was reluctant to return to class as I was late. I did not care. Any soldier, sailor, or marine was a hero. My two brothers were in the Army – Jack in the South Pacific and Warren in Europe. My mom bought a small white tapestry with two blue stars to hang in the window. The Oxley family across the road had a tapestry with four blue stars hanging in their window, representing Harold, James, Pearis in the Army and Clarence in the Navy. On our way to school we counted stars in windows. Jake Week’s window had one gold star; their son Virgil was killed in the Battle of the Coral Sea. My first cousin, Capt. Lewis Larew, from Beckley, was killed in 1944 at the invasion of Anzio, Italy.

Day 99 - Sunday 01 October 1950

Since I was adjusting to the noise and routine of nurses making their scheduled visits, I slept better last night. The nurses, staff, and the Gray Ladies were all friendly and went out of their way to accommodate us. I had not yet seen a doctor. I told the nurse yesterday that my right hand was swollen from the wrist down and the swelling between my fingers was beginning to look like a web-footed duck. Looking down on my hand, it looked like an Everlast boxing glove and was about the same color. The nurse brought me two pillows this morning and propped my hand up so some of the fluid could drain back into my body for disposal. She gave me a shot of penicillin and examined the bandages which were beginning to develop an unpleasant odor. She said they would be changed tomorrow.

I was gaining strength each day, but I had to roll over on my stomach to get up as I could not raise up when flat on my back. Instead, I tucked my knees up under me and used my left hand to get up on my knees and then worked myself off the bed. The nurse wanted me to start taking a bath or shower next week. She noticed that, due to my injured neck, I did not have complete control of my head. My neck and right arm lacked strength. The Gray Ladies were a pleasant group of older women, mostly officers’ wives and volunteers that help in the hospital – very much like mothers to us. They came early in the morning with M&Ms, cigarettes, books, and magazines.

My two roommates returned to the room. They were easy-going. One was in the Air Force stationed in Japan. He was from New Mexico. The other roommate was from Oahu and was wounded in action at the battle for Waegwan on September 16 – 18. They got penicillin shots twice a day. Weather permitting; they went up to the top floor on the open observation deck to eat cookies and ice cream. They said the view of Tokyo Bay was beautiful from the observation deck, which was a real incentive for me to become ambulatory. Later the Gray Lady returned to write a letter home for me. She included my new address: Tokyo Army Hospital (TAH), Ward 2C, APO 1052 Tokyo, Honshu, Japan. She suggested that I read a book about Henry Ford written by his bodyguard, who was an ex-con.  However, some say Henry did not have any bodyguards. I took the book.

Later in the afternoon I walked up the hallway, passed the nurses’ station, and turned right out in the foyer. A lot of wounded were in beds along the hallway, and, in the foyer waiting room, men were on cots. Many made no response to my presence. I wondered if one of the men who had a patch over his left eye was the one who was shot in the eye on September 18. The enemy burp gun bullet went in and out, forcing his eyeball out of the socket. All of our squad leaders were killed that day and several men were wounded. He may have been one of them who was wounded. Our bedtime snack was always welcomed before we went to sleep.

Day 100 - Monday 02 October 1950

The nurse awakened me as she took my blood pressure and temperature.  She said that I could take a bath or shower if I was able, but warned me to not let any water get into the bandaged wounds. After breakfast I took a bath, which was a bit challenging for me using only my left hand. I discovered several small wounds in my head, back, buttocks, left big toe, trigger finger, nose, and right elbow. Shortly after taking my bath the nurse returned to change my bandages and give me a shot of penicillin. She used a syringe to apply water to my bandages, as they were stuck to my flesh with dried pus and blood. She carefully removed the bandages so as not to damage the wounds. This was the first time I had seen them since I was wounded. She carefully washed my arm. The bandages she removed had an odoriferous stench. The swelling of my right hand was diminishing. She bandaged my wrist before putting bandages on my upper arm and a small bandage on the gunshot wounds in my deltoid muscle. Last of all, she bandaged my neck. Next, I prepared for my shot. I slid off the bed, dropped my pajamas, and leaned over the bed.  The nurse pinched my right buttock with her left hand and inserted the needle part way, exclaiming that it was going to hurt as she pushed the needle in for another installment. She was trying to be kind with one last push for the final installment of 300,000U. After she gathered up her things and left the room, I told the boy from Oahu that she was a nice nurse.  She apologized for the pain, but I would rather have had the shot in one installment. He said he called her method double clutching. The Gray Lady brought M&Ms. Once a patient was ambulatory, she left only cigarettes.

On one of the record sheets I saw that I was transferred from 118th Station Hospital in Fukuoka, Kyushu. I had no idea that I was in the hospital in Fukuoka. After the Air Force man was discharged, we got another GI in his place. He had been stationed in Japan before going to Korea.  His girlfriend and her friend sneaked him some Japanese food. He offered me some, but I declined the offer. Before bedtime I took a walk, slowly passing the rooms of the wounded. Some were in poor condition from various wounds and burns. I thanked God that I was alive and recovering day by day.

Day 101 - Tuesday 03 October 1950

The routine at the hospital was about the same each day. We got a male nurse on this particular day, but he turned out to be a Navy Corpsman--a medic with the Marines. He was wounded in the Invasion of Inchon and had volunteered to help out in the hospital just to pass the time away. When he pulled my pajamas down, I turned over slightly and he slapped my left cheek with his hand.  All I felt was the withdrawal of the needle as he pulled my pajama bottoms up and left the room. The Gray Ladies made their rounds each day to cheer us up with candy.

To get up I had to roll over on my stomach, then work my way up. My right arm still lacked mobility and strength. I still was not able to raise my head up because I was in too much pain and it had no muscle strength on the right side. I had a lot of little bumps on my head around the area of my ear. When I scratched the bumps, bits of dirt and gravel came out. The explosive force of the grenade not only sent metal shrapnel flying through the air, but dirt, gravel and anything else that was available. I still wondered what the 1st Platoon was doing and how many were wounded or killed on the day I was wounded. Another day of comfort and bliss.

Day 102 – Wednesday 04 October 1950

I awakened to the routine of the hospital staff. I had not seen a doctor since being wounded eight days ago. I was still trying to reconstruct things that had happened to me. I was sure that doctors had examined me along the way, and now it was just wait and see. I was doing my best to be independent and take care of myself. At least I could now roll over and get up, though it was a struggle, as was going to the toilet without help. Our nurse came in who was so kind and she gave me my 300,000 units of penicillin.  Again she apologized for the pain as she double-clutched on sort of an installment plan--like three shots in one, but she was ever so kind and had a heart full of sympathy. The Gray Ladies made their rounds with necessary amenities--toothpaste, toothbrushes, pencil, paper, and combs--a very kind and considerate group. I was still thankful that the Lord saved me.

Day 103 – Thursday 05 October 1950

I awakened to the tempo of the hospital staff. I went to chow in the hospital cafeteria. On my way back to my room I could not help being arrested by the men on cots who crowded the foyer and hallways. I suppose the waiting room area prior to the Korean War was where visitors waited, but now it was used for wounded on cots. One lad appeared to be wasting away, as he never moved his body and was racked physically. They had to have moved him every few hours, as I never saw him in the same position.

They came and changed my bandages this afternoon. Some of the bandages were stuck to the wounds and a foul odor was emitted when they had to use distilled water to soak the gauze on the bandage so it would release from the wound. Quite a bit of old blood and a yellow colored residue on the gauze covered the bandage where it had soaked through. After the bandages were off, they had me take a bath and told me not to get any water in the wounds. The right wrist was down to about normal, but I was not able to use my right hand as it lacked coordination. They dressed my wounds. I felt a lot better with each passing day. We had a small balcony off our room. We enjoyed standing on the balcony and watching the activities of the Japanese as they went about their chores. The weather was beautiful.

Day 104 – Friday 06 October 1950

The daily routine at the hospital was becoming very dull. I did not want to knock it, as I still enjoyed the sleep, sheets, and soft bed. One of the Gray Ladies brought her usual supplies of goodies. I gave her book back to her, which I had finished reading last night. She recommended the book about Henry Ford written by a man who was an ex-convict and hired by Henry. He never was told what his job was, but he assumed that he was a bodyguard and always travelled with Mr. Ford wherever he went. I went up on the top of the hospital where we had an excellent view of the city and Tokyo Bay. They had a few games to play to pass the time away and most of all I enjoyed the snacks which always included ice cream. I was becoming more mobile each day. I still had not seen a doctor.

Day 105 – Saturday 07 October 1950

I was awake early on. It was hard to sleep at times. I got my shot of penicillin on the installment plan, like three shots in one, but I could not fault the nurse. I never said anything to her. I took a bath, and when I came out the Gray Lady had left me my daily rations of M&Ms. The Air Force man shipped out this afternoon. I was glad to see him go.  He was no soldier and would never had made it in a rifle platoon.  He was just a gold brick. I kept reviewing the events from the 27th.

Day 106 – Sunday 08 October 1950

Same old routine: shot, M&Ms, visit to the top observation deck, and hike to the mess hall in the hospital for my food. Slowly but surely I was making some progress. There was a gift shop in the hospital operated by Japanese. The prices were low and they would take Japanese Yen or greenbacks. I had only some one dollar bills, but they would take GI money. I was still flat on my back most of the time or propped up. I was unable to raise my head without help or I had to roll over on my stomach to get up. There was still not much use of my right hand, although the swelling in my hand was going down. I had a few knocks and scars prior to joining the Army in a rough and tumble growing up, but nothing like this. The nurse assured me that all would return to normal in due time.

Tokyo was the last stop before being sent to Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu or the States. I was glad to be alive, to have a clean bed to sleep in, a night’s sleep, food, and nurses that provided tender loving care even to those who were on their way out. The Lord had spared me, for which I gave thanks. Today was Mom’s birthday--she must be 55 now. I was still unable to write her or others a letter. I attended services at the chapel in the hospital.

Day 107 – Monday 09 October 1950

I was still apprehensive at night when I was awakened by the slightest sound. The Japanese nurses who shuffled through the hall and into the rooms were the ones that I was bothered with the most. Our Navy Corpsman had been giving shots the past few days. He slapped my buttock and then I felt the needle being pulled out of my rump – a job well done. If they failed to put the penicillin in deep into my muscle the penicillin would form a hard lump that took several days to dissolve out of my system. He did an excellent job and the hospital staff was glad to have him since they were so busy. I was up walking around some, though I could not push a door open with my right arm. I had yet to see a doctor, though they did make their rounds once in a while.

Day 108 – Tuesday 10 October 1950

Up early and ate morning chow in the mess hall. I had not seen a doctor yet. I was amazed how many wounded were in the hospital. The halls were lined with cots and beds, as was the lounge at the top of the stairs. Some of the wounded were shattered. One lad was wasting away day by day from head to toe – always silent and asleep, though some said he was blind.  I never saw a nurse near him. I am sure they tended to him, though I was not there to see them. I do not know why I was in a room, but it may have been because I was wounded early on. I did the daily routine. Once I was up and about, the Gray Ladies did not leave me M&Ms or other amenities. I was not itching just then to return to the 1st Platoon of Charlie Company, but I wondered where they were and what had happened to them.

Day 109 – Wednesday 11 October 1950

Up early each morning. Glad to be alive to enjoy life even in the hospital. About two weeks ago I called upon the Lord to save me. Still trying to put it all together.  Still having flash backs. A nurse said I should visit other GIs on our floor, as it would encourage them. They mentioned the ones who were in serious shape. I visited one GI who had been shot in the back of the head and the bullet exited out of his eye. I was surprised that he could even be alive. His good eye was becoming sympathetic, and they were doing their best to keep the good eye from becoming blind. Another GI had so many small splinters of shrapnel imbedded in him that they used a piece of sandpaper to drag across his body so it would snag on the bits and pieces of shrapnel and pull it out of his skin. After visiting some other wounded, I, indeed, felt fortunate not to have lost an arm, a leg, or an eye, though I nearly lost my life. They changed my bandages today. They had a foul odor.  The one on my upper arm especially had been emitting a foul odor for several days. They had to soak the bandages off with water to keep from pulling away the scar tissue. They put some thick black salve on the wound located on my upper right arm.

Day 110 – Thursday 12 October 1950

Up a bit early and went to chow and then back to the room. A disturbing sight as one entered the lounge and walks down the hallway to their room. No one was talking.  They were just waiting for the "moving of the water." The nurse walked into our room, I dropped my pajama bottoms, and leaned across the bed. She pinched my cheek up and shoved the needle to the hilt in a business-like fashion.  She was not devoid of sympathy, but just doing her job. The penicillin had to be put in deep, she explained.  "If not, it will form a lump on your rump," she said.

I went to the top floor where they served ice cream and coffee, enjoying our view of Tokyo Bay. When I got to the room the Gray Lady had been in, but she left me no M&Ms. To my surprise, a doctor came to see me. He looked at my wounds and asked if I had any problems. I told him no except the large lump in the side of my neck. He felt the large lump in my neck. He said they would read the x-ray when they were ready and make some decision as to what they would do.

Day 111 – Friday 13 October 1950

The same old six and seven routine – I got the penicillin on the installment plan this morning--a third now, a third later, and the final third. The nurse had no idea how much self-control was required to keep from flinching. I scratched the side of my head above and about my ear and mastoid process bone and dug out the sand, dirt, and gravel that was imbedded under my skin by the exploding grenade. My ear, jaw, and part of my neck were numb, no feeling.  When I shaved it was like pulling my beard out. My right arm had no feeling from my elbow up to the wound or the back of my arm. At least two small pieces of shrapnel entered the base of my skull where it joined my neck.  One piece imbedded in the mastoid bone behind my ear and one piece on the bone in the elbow.  A piece nicked the bridge of my nose, and several pieces went into my buttocks.  One piece was in my left large toe, a piece cut across the index finger of my right hand, a large piece went through my wrist, upper right arm, and neck, and a piece passed through my upper shoulder - a nice round hole at entry small, but still nice and round but larger at point of exit. I wondered if I was shot after being wounded.

Day 112 – Saturday 14 October 1950

I went to chow. The Gray Lady stopped by out of the goodness of her heart and gave me a pack of M&Ms. I went to the observation deck for our treat of ice cream and cookies. The bottoms of my feet were sore where I tried to peel off the thick callous. The thick layer of skin was just like a thin shoe sole on the bottom of my feet. I mentioned this to the nurse. She took a look and later applied olive oil to my feet to soften the callous which would slough off in time.

The weather was beautiful – autumn was in the air. We made frequent trips to the little balcony and looked down on the street and pedestrians below. Across the street postal workers were busy sorting mail in the post office, little children carrying their book bags, laughing and talking just like American children on their way home from school. A Japanese policeman down the street at an intersection was directing traffic from atop a concrete or stone pillar in the intersection. He was very interesting to watch as he jumped up and down like a bantam rooster waving his arms directing the traffic.

Day 113 – Sunday 15 October 1950

The new man in our room had a Japanese girlfriend who brought him food and drink. He offered me some of the food, but I declined the offer for more than one reason. I did not like the food and was also concerned about how sanitary it might be.  Some GIs who were able to be up and about were allowed passes. They wore their pajamas underneath their uniform, then sold their uniform and came back to the hospital in their pajamas the next day. It did not take long for the scheme to come to an end when their pay was docked for the uniform and leaves were cut out. I went to the chapel for services.

Day 114 - Monday 16 October 1950

I awakened to the tempo of hospital staff activity. I still enjoyed the vacation, but it was becoming boring. I read Stars and Stripes to catch up on the war news, for what it was worth. Some mention was made of the 35th Infantry Regiment. I was not very comfortable on the balcony – cool and windy. We had our ice cream and cookies in a basement room of the hospital as it was too brisk on the observation deck at the top.

Day 115 - Tuesday 17 October 1950

I awoke to a normal day of activities. This afternoon as I was taking life easy in bed reading Stars and Stripes, I heard a voice behind me. I turned to see who it was.  It was Bob Hope, whose visit was a well-kept secret. He came into the room, shook hands, and joked with us. After he left, Marilyn Maxwell--a part of his group, came into the room.  She was all smiles to cheer up the GIs. Howard Wells had his picture made with her and Bob Hope. Howard had his eye bandaged from a wound.

Day 116 - Wednesday 18 October 1950

Three weeks prior I was wounded near the village of Tansong-ne, northwest of Chinju. The Purple Heart they gave me I planned to send home. I finished our routine and did the rounds for all of the freebies. We were taken by bus to a field house/auditorium to see the performance of the USO show, Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Fred Astaire and a lot of others. It was quite a program for the GIs. Back to the hospital, but I thought a program by a Japanese girl performing a balancing act with various objects was very intriguing and equal to or better than all of the stateside entertainment.

Day 117 - Thursday 19 October 1950

The day arrived. The nurse told me that they would operate on me first thing in the morning. I was to have nothing by mouth after 9:00 p.m. She said that they would come around with the sleeping pills I had to take to put me to sleep prior to the operation. I made sure that anything available to eat before 9:00 p.m. was eaten if I could find it. I was quite happy about the operation as the lump on the right side of my neck was quite large.  Though it never bothered me much, it did cause me trouble in swallowing. I got some reading material and read until 9:00 p.m., when they came with the sleeping pills, which I took. I stayed up and walked down the hallway to visit some of the GIs. I stayed awake until about 11:30 p.m. just to prove that the sleeping pills were not effective.

Day 118 - Friday 20 October 1950

Someone came in the room, gave me a shot, and moved me onto a gurney. They spoke to me, but I was so sleepy that I could not concentrate on what was going on. They wheeled me out of the room. A nurse in the operating room said that she would feed me breakfast through the IV she had put in my arm. A few minutes later she told me to count to ten. I started counting one, two, th. . .

I awoke gagging and had trouble breathing. I could hear a machine running. They had a hose or tube in my mouth pumping out fluid that had accumulated. They removed the tube and I got up to go to the toilet. I was like a drunk man staggering and reeling around and almost stepped in the commode. I figured that the two men in our room must have been at chow so I sobered up enough to go to the mess hall. When I returned they had a tray of food on my nightstand, so I got a second blessing. I got a package from Warren that contained three bags of Beechnut chewing tobacco and five candy bars, which I shared with the other two men. A nice surprise to wake up to; the timing was perfect.

Day 119 - Saturday 21 October 1950

I was a little sore from the operation. The surgeon had put a rubber tube to drain the fluid from my neck. They taped a piece of gauze to my chest that looked like a small pad. I had no idea what it is for or what they did to my chest. It was not sore when I pressed on it. It felt like a hard lump. I was back into the routine of things.

Day 120 - Sunday 22 October 1950

I was awakened early. I was making excellent progress, though it was slow and trying at times. The surgeon stopped in to see me. He did not take the drain out. He said everything was healing and the stitches looked good. He said they would remove the stitches in a few days. He asked how I was feeling. I said, "Fine." He inquired if there had been a change in my voice. I gave him a smart answer by saying that I did not listen to myself talk. He said they would do a skin graft on the wound on my neck. As he started to leave I asked him what the pad was covering on my chest. He laughed and got serious. He pulled the tape off and unwrapped the gauze to show me what he had removed from my neck during the operation. It was a piece of shrapnel.  He went on to say that the piece of shrapnel had been lodged against the carotid artery to the brain, and had it penetrated any further it would have severed it and I would have bled to death in less than a minute. The shrapnel had entered part-way into my voice box. He said, “You should be thankful that you are alive and able to talk.” After he left I thanked the Lord that I was still in the land of the living and for saving me. A miracle of mercy and grace had taken place.

Day 121 - Monday 23 October 1950

My daily routine was interrupted when a nurse told me to report to the ENT Clinic to have the stitches taken out. In the waiting room there was only one other patient. He was eager to tell me that he was an “In min gun Han-guk” (North Korean People’s Army). By his body language and expressions I interpreted it as his appreciation for the medical treatment he had received. He pointed to the right side of his nose where a bullet had entered, just missed his eye, and exited out of his left ear. I was amazed that it did not even cross his eyes.  It must have been a very painful wound. He was very exuberant and happy. They removed half of my stitches and said there was very little drainage. I went back to the ward and then topside for my ice cream.

Day 122 - Tuesday 24 October 1950

My routine was broken again. The nurse told me to report to the ENT Clinic. I did not see the North Korean soldier. He seemed to have been a nice lad and no doubt a good soldier. They removed the remaining stitches and the drain tube from my neck. Back I went to the ward. An officer came in my room with the Purple Heart medal in a purple box with a hinged flip lid, along with the special order for its issue. They did not have the medal to give me on September 30.

I put the shrapnel and the special orders in the box with the Purple Heart and mailed them home. They came late in the afternoon and said I was being transferred to Ward 28, so I gathered up what I had, joined several others, and we were taken to Ward 28 by an Army bus.

Life in Ward 28 was different with about 20 men to a ward. It was a large room filled with cots and overcrowded, to say the least. It was more like the Army--not at all like the hospital in Ward 2C. It reminded me of an old WWII song, “This is the Army, Mr. Jones. No private rooms or telephones. You’ve had your breakfast in bed before, but you won’t have it there anymore.” I would have to return to soldiering in this man’s Army, though still a teenager.

Day 123 - Wednesday 25 October 1950

This was more like Army life.  We had to rise and shine early, make up our bunks, have police call, sweep and mop the floor, and walk to chow. There were no Gray Ladies, nurses, or doctors--just rough sergeants. There were no M&Ms, ice cream, or games. Men were shipping out every day to their parent units. One GI told me about his six months and two thirds at the Big Eight University (Eighth Army stockade). He was stationed at Otsu when he stumped his toe and was sent to the Big Eight and graduated just in time to join his company as it was leaving for Korea.

Day 124 - Thursday 26 October 1950

The routine here was not like Tokyo Army Hospital (TAH). This Annex was not more like the Army; this was the Army. A bit boring.  We did a lot of reading and wrote a letter occasionally. We shot the breeze. I guess the Navy would call it a poop session.  Men were going and coming as they convalesced sufficiently to return to duty. For the most part I was physically ready to return to the 1st Platoon, but had to wait for clearance from the doctor and orders.

Day 125 - Friday 27 October 1950

We were up early to do our routine. Time passed ever so slowly. Being restricted to the building we paid little attention to the weather, but noticed that it was raining.  The days were shrinking and night came earlier. From what we read, the war news was very positive that it might be over before I was returned to the 1st Platoon.

Day 126 - Saturday 28 October 1950

The sun cleared the clouds away, nice clear blue skies. Some beautiful fall foliage still lingered on the trees. The ground had long been covered with leaves. It was a good day to hike to the top of Mt. Fuji. I could still see Mt. Fuji from the plane window some 4,000 feet above us when we flew into Tokyo last August about 80 days ago.

Day 127 - Sunday 29 October 1950

Another beautiful day outside.  It was a little brisk, but the sun warmed the air by midday so one could enjoy the outdoors. Ward 28 was just like the stockade--very cramped quarters, and almost like sleeping on top of one another. Most of the men who were shipping out took a seven-day leave before reporting to Camp Drake. When my time came, I did not know if I should take a seven-day leave or report to Camp Drake. I got a letter from home. Bill was supposed to be in Japan waiting to be shipped to Korea. He was in an Engineering Company involved with constructing Bailey Bridges. I went to the chapel for Sunday services.

Day 128 - Monday 30 October 1950

The war news continued to be upbeat. They were making progress, according to the Stars and Stripes. From all indications, units would soon secure the whole of North Korea and would be returning to Japan. There was some concern that the Chinese might enter the war. Were they not already in the war?

Day 129 - Tuesday 31 October 1950

The pale morning light pierced through the windows and a light rain was falling, dripping from the few remaining leaves clinging to the trees waiting for the first snowfall. The days were short and the nights were long. I went to the PX at TAH. We were told that we had to purchase things and pay in Yen, but that the Japanese operators would take GI money or anything that looked like money. I wrote a couple of letters. I wondered, "If we are well, why do they leave us here?"  I did not like to leave my warm bed and shower.

Day 130 - Wednesday 01 November 1950

Light rain still lingered at 6:00 a.m. It cleared off as the day wore on. Some of us went again to the TAH PX just to pass the time away. I wrote a letter to Jack.

Day 131 - Thursday 02 November 1950

After the daily routine of making our bed, and sweeping and mopping the floor, there was little to do. There were no chairs--only bunks to lounge on throughout the day. Most read and wrote letters.  Some played cards, but not for money, and others slept.

Day 132 - Friday 03 November 1950

Today marked the 90th day I had been in the Far East--another idle, aimless, restless, wasted day.

Day 133 - Saturday 04 November 1950

I was up as usual to the daily routine. I wrote a few letters. They said it was cold in Korea--just as cold in winter as it was hot in the summer. I did not look forward to going back to Korea.

Day 134 - Sunday 05 November 1950

Life in the Annex passed ever so slowly. We read, we wrote, we talked, we napped, we daydreamed, we did nothing, and some played cards. I swore off of gambling, convicted by my mother’s teaching, though it could be profitable for a few. I remembered Mother telling us about one of her uncles who was a gambler; his life was one of ebb and flow. I went to the chapel for services.

Day 135 - Monday 06 November 1950

After our daily routine I was told to report to the main desk. They sent me to TAH, where I saw the doctor. I asked him why they had made such a long cut in my neck instead of a small vertical cut to take out the shrapnel. He said he followed the grain of the skin, which would leave less scar tissue. He said he made the incision long so he would have a hole to work in. He did not mention a skin graft, and neither did I. He said that I was able to return to duty. Back at the Annex they asked me if I wanted a seven-day leave before returning to my unit in Korea.  It was not a difficult decision; I asked for the seven-day leave. They said it would be a few days before I went on leave.

Day 136 - Tuesday 07 November 1950

Men were leaving each day for their units. They sent a roster down that determined when our leave was to begin, based on the nature and recovery from our wounds. I was out of shape--best not rock the boat or we would be doing PT.

Day 137 - Wednesday 08 November 1950

They read the names from the roster of those who would be given a seven-day leave beginning on the 9th. I went to the front desk to make plans. A GI from the 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, also got leave orders. We decided that we would travel together and made some plans. He was stationed with the 1st Cavalry at Camp Drake before they shipped out to Korea. He had a bad leg wound from a piece of shrapnel, and it was still draining slightly.

Day 138 - Thursday 09 November 1950

We went to the main desk and I got a cash payment from my back pay. The exchange rate was 400 Yen to the dollar on the black market, so I did not need a lot of money. We left the Annex with our leave orders. He knew the area well. We went to Yokohama to see if I could locate my cousin, Bill Scott, who was with an engineering company. We scoured the area, crossing railroad tracks in a rail yard.  It was quite dark. We inquired of some Japanese but they were of no help.  Later we saw some GIs.  They were not sure, but they thought the unit had shipped out to Korea.

We found a little hole-in-the-wall eating place where we ate. At least it was warm.  Once the sun went down it turned cold. Later when we left the warmth of the little hole-in-the-wall, we inquired of the Japanese manager where we could spend the night. He directed us to a hotel not far away.  The owner was most happy to entertain two travelers. Business was slow, so he was willing to give us two rooms for almost the price of one. Everything was so small.  The stairs were steep and the ceiling was low just like the troop train, but the closet-size rooms were clean, the sheets were snow white and lightly scented, and it was a bit warmer than outside in the gusty wind. I secured my billfold and went right off to sleep.

Day 139 - Friday 10 November 1950

I awakened refreshed and warm, but the room was cold as ice. I thought I could hear my buddy talking downstairs to the innkeeper. I pulled myself out of the warm cocoon, slipped my clothes on, and joined my buddy downstairs. Everything in the area was small and packed together. At the time we did not know it was off limits to GIs.

We went to a nearby slop-shute for breakfast. The streets were so crowded. We were able to confirm that my cousin’s outfit had shipped out to Korea. Somehow we managed to get lost from one another in the crowd. I felt a bit bewildered. An MP patrol car came near the curb and the MP riding shotgun shouted for me to leave the area at once, pointing in the direction to go. I found another inn late in the day, but it was not so cheap.

Day 140 - Saturday 11 November 1950

I slept rather well last night and it was a bit warmer when I got up. It was hard to find a place to eat that I could trust. I walked by the government Diet Building and saw a lot of brass coming and going at GHQ (General Headquarters - Eighth Army).  I walked along the Imperial Palace, a beautiful well-kept area. It was still quite cool, and the rain was a dry drizzle. I went to the Kabuki Theatre to keep warm and slept most of the time as I could not comprehend the language. The subways were an interesting conglomeration of sights, sounds, smells, and the scurrying of bodies boarding and debarking the trains as they pulled into the stations. I found a food stall where I could buy food. Some spoke a few words of English. Another inn, another Yen, for a night of sleep.

Day 141 - Sunday 12 November 1950

The night passed all too quickly. I woke up cold and with a bit of a headache due to the hibachi pot in the room which was supposed to keep me warm. I went by the Diet Building, GHQ, and to the Emperor’s Palace and its beautiful gardens. I went to the Kabuki theatre to keep warm. I kept roaming the streets, which seemed to form a labyrinth.  Several times I came back to the same location I had been before.

Once I was on Ginza Avenue, I travelled from one end to the other looking at all the things that were for sale. The items were cheap--some cheaply made, and there were imitations of American products.  I bought a "Parka" (imitation Parker) pen and "Bee-Bird" (imitation Beech-nut) chewing gum. The Chiclets looked the same, so I purchased a box. I popped two of the Chiclets in my mouth.  They were only slightly sweet, and the more I chewed the less the mass stayed together.  It was about like saw dust – what a rip off. A dollar on the black market would fetch 400-500 Yen; at a bank or an exchange it would fetch only 300 Yen.

Day 142 - Monday 13 November 1950

I woke up in a cold room. I wanted to find a less expensive hotel or inn to spend the night. I visited Ginza Avenue again. I enjoy haggling over the price of things just for the fun of it. I watched some Australian soldiers buying cigarette lighters; it went on and on before they exhausted each other and a purchase was made. I purchased a few things to send home. I got a Japanese taxi to take me to a hotel. The driver took the long way round--or it was quite a distance away.  Most likely the hotel owner was his friend or he got a kick-back on all of the customers he brought to the hotel. The car was a charcoal burner which he had to stoke once or twice on the way.

The hotel was just a small house--maybe his father’s. It had rice paper windows, mats on the floor, bed rolls, a small table, and a hibachi pot for heat. I was tired, so it did not take long for me to turn in. I often wondered about our safety.  We had been at war with the Japs a few short years ago, but all of the Japanese were very friendly towards GIs.

Day 143 - Tuesday 14 November 1950

Sleep must have overtaken me very quickly last night. The sunlight filtering through the windows of intricate design and construction covered with rice paper created a beautiful design of dark and light shadows on the wall and floor. Its rays were almost void of warmth in the cold room.  I dressed.

The door slid open and a very young Japanese girl entered the room. She spoke in the one or two words of English that she knew and handed me a menu – English on one side, Japanese on the other. I was hungry as a bear. I studied the menu, pointed to the eggs, and held up four fingers to indicate I wanted four eggs with my order. She nodded, acknowledging my request, and then she left.

I went to the ‘benjo’ (toilet), where I washed and cleaned up. I could hear American voices in the hotel, but did not see anyone. I had to leave my shoes at the front entrance last night on entering the hotel. I hoped the MPs did not stop by because if it was a place off limits, they would take my shoes. I did not want to go to Camp Drake barefooted.

The girl returned with two orders of food – two plates, two cups of coffee, two servings of bacon, toast, and eggs. I indicated my satisfaction with my order.  As I started eating, the door slid open and in she came with two more orders. I could not speak Japanese, but I was able to let her know that I did not want the other two orders, which she took away. I wondered if she thought there were others in the room or if she thought I had a big appetite. How did she expect or even think that this skinny six-foot, 140-pound boy could eat all four orders?

When I checked out of the hotel or inn, the owner could speak English very well.  He understood the situation after I explained it, but he most likely charged me for the four orders anyway. While I was waiting for a taxi, he told me that he had been in the South Pacific during the war as a fighter pilot who flew a Jap Zero. He went on to say that if there were five Japanese planes and twenty American planes, the Japanese would stay and fight.  If there were twenty Japanese planes and five American planes, the Americans would not stay and fight.

He could not understand things in Korea--why there was so much retreating from the battle. To make the answer easy for him to understand, I asked him who won the war--Japan or America? He never answered me as he pondered over it. I really enjoyed talking to him. I wish the taxi had arrived later so we could have talked. I spent more time on Ginza Avenue.

Day 144 - Wednesday 15 November 1950

I was up early. The roster on the bulletin board was posted for men to return to general duty. We turned in our blankets, pillow, sheets, and pillow cases. We boarded a bus that took us to Camp Drake. The boy from the 8th Cavalry said he did not know how we got separated.

At Camp Drake, the barracks were empty for the most part. I was by myself eating chow when a man came over to my table.  He was Sergeant First Class Rainey, my squad leader at Fort Hood. He had been wounded in Korea. He gave me an update of his experiences in the 24th Infantry. He said that they would not fight or take care of equipment, and were not dependable. He was a native of Texas and had spent his time in the Navy during WWII. His first cruise was 133 days without going to shore. His second cruise was over a year, and when he went ashore in the Philippines he saw the Army guys in town having a good time.  He said that was the life for him, so upon his discharge from the Navy he joined the Army. He was a lanky six-footer who was low-keyed, had a dry sense of humor, and was quicker than a cat.

A sergeant at Fort Hood who had been stationed with Rainey in Italy said that Rainey went out in the firebreak at night just with his GI shorts on.  Holding up his skinny arms with fists clenched, he shouted for anyone who wanted to fight to come to the firebreak. Any who ventured into the firebreak were soundly threshed in a matter of minutes, though he looked like a pushover. He was married, had children, and lived off base in Texas. He volunteered for Korea and the 24th Infantry so as to get a promotion to Lieutenant.

I saw Pop.  He was an old soldier who had served in the Cavalry and was almost ready to retire when the war broke out.  He was sent to A Company and most of the men in the platoon were killed or wounded. The enemy shot the wounded. Pop had been hit and another man fell across him who had been shot dead. The enemy shot some wounded near him, but he played dead. He said they stood above him for several minutes before passing by. I really felt sorry for him. It was good to see him once again. He was waiting to be shipped back to Korea. I went back to the barracks.

Day 145 - Thursday 16 November 1950

I had a terrible cold, and the lack of warm clothing and the wet, damp cool days while I was on leave did not help the situation. I fell out for sick call – 86 men fell out for sick call. I was told that 83 of them had VD.  Only three were there for other reasons. They gave me the standard treatment – APC tablets. We drew brand-new M1 rifles and steamed clean the Cosmoline off them--which was a task.

Day 146 - Friday 17 November 1950

I still had a lot of congestion. I supposed the APC pills might help, but I felt tough. We went to the rifle range to zero our rifles. Light rain was falling and the air cool.  Laying in the prone position on the wet ground was an added aggravation. I had to relax to hold on target as my teeth chattered. I had a slight fever, which made me feel warmer than the rest of the men. There were not many of us, so it did not take long to find the mark at 100, 200, and 500 yards. I took a hot shower after evening chow and wrote a letter to Sis.


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Return to Duty

Day 147 - Saturday 18 November 1950

I was up early this morning. It did not take long to get back into the Army routine. Some of us received orders to ship out the next morning. I went to the PX to buy some candy bars to take back to the men in our platoon. In the PX I saw Maj. Rex T. Henry, my old CO in Fort Hood. He was now a Major stationed at Camp Drake with an administrative job. He wanted to know what outfit I was with. I told him the 1st Platoon, C Company, 35th Infantry. He told me he served with the 27th Infantry in WWII. He asked me what I was doing and I told him that I had been in the Tokyo Army Hospital and was being sent back to duty. He asked if I wanted to stay in Japan. I thought quickly for an answer--I would be shipping out the next day. He said he could have me bumped and transferred to a unit in Japan. I wanted to stay.  I dreaded going back to the cold, frost, sleet, snow, hail, hiking, digging, mud, frozen ground, cold coffee and food, dirty spoons, no showers, no sleep, no warm bed or room – perhaps to be wounded again or killed, but I declined his offer.  After all, I had served with the 1st Platoon and felt a certain amount of allegiance to the platoon. I replied that I would return to the 1st Platoon, thanked him for his offer, and bade farewell to Maj. Rex T. Henry.

Day 148 - Sunday 19 November 1950

I was up early in the morning. After morning chow we packed our belongings in a pack. I had been issued an Army sleeping bag consisting of two Army blankets with an outer shell that was waterproof. We ate our noon chow. At midafternoon we boarded buses to take us to a dock in Yokohama. The tall smoke stacks with the 1st Cavalry patch painted near the top receded as the bus bumped along and soon disappeared behind the horizon. I enjoyed the comforts of warm rooms, clean sheets, good food, a night’s sleep, but now it would end in a few days.

We got off the bus with our rifles and gear and walked up the gang plank, where we were checked off a roster and assigned a room aboard the USS Mitchell--a troop transport waiting to take us to Korea. The ship was as clean as a pin and we had a large compartment with canvas bunks to sleep on – a far cry from the Japanese ship that took me from Sasebo, Japan to Pusan, Korea.

Day 149 - Monday 20 November 1950

About 3:00 in the afternoon the USS Mitchell weighed anchor and the tug towed her from her mooring out into Tokyo Bay, where we put out to sea bound for Inchon, the port city of Seoul, Korea, some 1,250 nautical miles away. We passed the city of Yokosuka and the island of O’Shima as we entered the waters of the Pacific Ocean turning southward. The days were short and on deck it was windy and cold. A better ship this was, but it lacked the excitement, adventure, history, filth, squat toilets, and stench of the Japanese troop ship we sailed on last August. I went down to our compartment and studied the faces of the men who were returning to their outfits. Some were expressionless, a degree of fear that it might be death instead of a wound next time. Some others were exaggerating things to the new replacements en route to combat duty. I started writing a letter home.

Day 150 - Tuesday 21 November 1950

The sun came up through broken clouds.  It was not as cold, but the wind made it a bit uncomfortable up on deck. At one time we were on the fringe of the deep waters of the Japanese Trench and passed the large island of Shikoku on the right. I did not spend a lot of time on deck during the morning. The afternoon was pleasant.  For the most part, the sea swells provided a gentle roll. We stayed on deck most of the afternoon. We swapped stories and wished our stay could have been longer in Japan.

Day 151 - Wednesday 22 November 1950

I awoke early this morning. After chow we ventured topside. The weather was rather pleasant. We must have been south of Japan near or through the Osumi-shoto Strait off the southern coast of Kyushu, steaming in a westerly direction into the East China Sea.

Later in the day it turned cooler, so we must have been going north, passing off the coast of Cheju-do, a large island about 100 miles from the southwest coast of Korea into the Yellow Sea. Rumor had it that we would eat our Thanksgiving dinner aboard ship. I hoped that if we did, the chow would be better than the chow we had had so far. We had to wait and see.

Day 152 - Thursday 23 November 1950

The USS Mitchell must have steamed into the waters not far from the harbor, as I heard the rumble of the anchor being let down in the early morning. I went topside before morning chow and I could see the coast and Inchon in the distance. We had our Thanksgiving dinner aboard ship – turkey and all of the trimmings.

We could not go ashore until the tide was high enough for an LCI to take us ashore. The tides there were some of the highest in the world. At midafternoon, they told us to report to topside with bag and baggage. We loaded on the LCI and headed toward shore. We passed Wolmi-do en route to where the LCI pushed ashore. Trucks were waiting to take us to our respective units. The ride was cold and wet coming ashore and the truck ride proved to be rough as we bounced over the only paved road in Korea.  It was pitted with pot holes.

We saw some of the damage that the invasion forces inflicted on the enemy forces. We passed several T-34 tanks that had come to grief. One had its 85mm cannon split and peeled back about two feet where a shell had hit the muzzle and split it like a dandelion stalk. We arrived at the rear Headquarters and Replacement Company of the 25th Infantry Division housed in a school house in Yongdung-po. We were assigned bunks, went to chow, and then turned in for the night.

Day 153 - Friday 24 November 1950

I awoke to a brisk cold wind – a continuation of what we experienced on the USS Mitchell, the LCI, and the truck ride. The days were short. We assembled in a room after evening chow for a briefing conducted by an officer. B Company, 35th Infantry and E Company of the 27th Infantry formed Task Force Dolvin of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion to spearhead to the Yalu River. They had covered eight miles in eight hours against light to moderate resistance. They hoped that all units of the 8th Army would reach the Yalu by Christmas Day. The Task Force had dug in for the night and they were still drawing fire from the enemy.

Day 154 - Saturday 25 November 1950

There was a bright moon.  It was clear and very cold. Not a bad set up with a bed and some real comforts of life, but the building was not all that warm. We were issued some clothing, but no winter clothing other than what we had. The clothing was not suitable for the severe weather conditions we would encounter on line.

Day 155 - Sunday 26 November 1950

A roster was posted, and after chow a roll call was made of all who were shipping out. We boarded trucks that took us to the rail station. Some of us were brave enough to use the squat toilets at the train station. We were a public spectacle, but when nature called, we had to answer. The stench and filth were everywhere. I could not imagine what it would be like in the summer with all the flies.

We loaded on cattle cars. Each car had two wood-burning stoves at each end of the car. What little heat that was generated by the stoves was carried away by the wind and smoke coming through the slits--about a three-inch gap between the boards--once the train started moving. The train traveled at a snail’s pace. Darkness closed in quickly as the cold night air prevailed. We huddled together like prisoners to keep warm, providing some protection from the wind. We slept in bits and pieces as the train lumbered along.

Day 156 - Monday 27 November 1950

The train stopped several times and always started with several jerks to jog and jostle us awake to feel the intense cold. Daylight revealed a frozen landscape as dead and desolate as it was cold. Shortly after daylight the click and clack ceased as the slow moving train pulled into a siding. A small, forlorn, dilapidated train station stood as a lonely sentinel alongside the rail siding.

We got off the train and relieved ourselves in the nearby fields. Fires were started with rice straw and twigs, but more substantial fuel was needed, so we proceeded to pull boards off the train station. Two officers said that we should not tear down the train station as our government would have to pay for rebuilding it, but it didn’t stop the dismantling of the building plank by plank. In fact, the officers enjoyed the warmth of the small fires alongside of the train as much as we did. It was slightly overcast, bleak, and very cold.

The trainmen walked a short distance across the frozen field to some shacks. They returned later and stayed at the engine. We watched one as he walked around shucking the feathers off a small sparrow that had been caught in the village. He put the sparrow back in his pocket. We visited the engine quite often with an empty C-ration can to catch the hot water dripping from a pipe to make coffee. The sun passed its high mark for the day, though it never broke through the overcast skies. We did not want to be obtrusive, but we kept an eye on the trainman.  Later in the day we noticed that the trainman must have gotten the sparrow cleaned. We spied him eating it – maybe raw or slightly cooked in the hot water. He must have been desperate for something to eat.

We had no idea why we were waiting, but later in the day a makeshift hospital train came through. We talked to several of the wounded on the train and got conflicting reports as to the situation on the front line – some said there was no front line because it was all chaos since the Chinese attacked and some units were cut to shreds. Others said that they were on the Yalu River doing nothing. Two of us started a rumor to see how long it would be before we heard it. The train station was about level with the ground, and if we stayed much longer we would have to go in search of fuel. Sure enough, a GI came over to the fire and asked if we had heard the latest.  We got our rumor in a modified form.

The cold was bitter and the wind had picked up to take away the heat of our fire – first in one direction, then the other as the wind swirled around. The hospital train pulled away. We were left with our little fires and daylight began to follow the train. We loaded onto the cattle cars to continue our journey north. The train started moving with several jerks and the familiar click and clack, but never gained enough speed to have a clickety-clack. Darkness enveloped the train as we dozed off to sleep – each smelling like a five-alarm fire.

Day 157 - Tuesday 28 November 1950

We arrived in Pyongyang in the early morning. We unloaded and were taken to our various unit headquarters. The GI from the 8th Cavalry wished me luck. We had been together since leaving Camp Drake. At the Advanced Headquarters of the 25th Infantry Division we were sorted out as to our parent regiment. We milled around in the cold waiting for a truck. We arrived at the 35th Infantry CP late in the afternoon. After eating evening chow, I was assisted to one of the tents. I rolled out my sleeping bag on the frozen ground. I put my pack and rifle alongside of me.

Day 158 - Wednesday 29 November 1950

The cold crept through the tent wall and ground into my sleeping bag.  I awoke when I heard others moving in the tent, but I hated to rise and shine, leaving what little bit of warmth there was in the bag. I searched my pack, then realized that someone had taken all of the candy and items I had purchased for the 1st Platoon. GIs that did not serve in a rifle company were like so many--they only thought of themselves.

I was taken to C Company mess kitchen located in a house. The mess kitchen was about 50-60 miles from the front. Pappy, our Platoon Sergeant, was staying with the cooks. He was ill with what they thought was pneumonia. They said that Colonel Fisher had averted a pogrom of the 35th Infantry by the Chinese. I left with the cooks. Late in the afternoon we took C-rations to the company. They had two gas-fired heaters in galvanized cans to heat the water for the C-rations. They would have to find a well, because everything else would be frozen over.

Darkness overtook us on the road which was crowded with traffic. We tried to locate C Company, but it was not to be found. I had no other choice but to ride back with the cooks. As the truck bumped along, we tried to sleep. I did not have proper clothing and the combat boots I was wearing were no match for the frigid cold air out of Siberia. I thought my feet were wet from the water that had spilled out of the galvanized cans and ran back and forth in the bed of the truck. I took my boot off, felt my sock, and it was as dry as powder. I must have been hallucinating or having a mirage. I then realized there was no water in the galvanized cans. As I stumbled out of the truck, my feet were numb. It was all I could do to walk to the shack. We were all tired and sleepy.

Day 159 - Thursday 30 November 1950

I awoke when the cooks got up. I had thawed out during the night. Master Sergeant Mills, our Platoon Sergeant, said as we were eating breakfast that my moustache might have to be shaved off. He thought it was a regimental order. Pappy was still feeling tough. We discussed the history of the 1st Platoon since I was wounded on September 27. They had very few new replacements. When the kitchen truck was loaded, we climbed aboard. Seeing that I was ill-clad, a cook gave me a parka.  The truck was started every two hours, so it started quite easily. We retraced our route that we had travelled the night before. There was more traffic coming than going. MPs were directing traffic in the villages where there were road intersections.

Late in the afternoon we found C Company. I reported to the CP. They were glad to see me and gave me directions to the 1st Platoon. Were they ever so surprised and glad to see me. There was a lot of back-slapping and shaking hands. I felt so out of place with my clean-shaven face and clothing among the unshaven, tired, hungry men of the 1st Platoon. They were in good spirits as always. They only got a meal a day--if they were fortunate. Each had his field jacket pocket full of rice. The reason no one could find them the night before was they were bringing up the rear to fight a rear guard action if necessary. When the order was given for them to withdraw, they had to march 33 miles. I was glad that we didn’t find them.

Paul Blanton was wounded the same day I was while we were taking the hill. He saw me while he was being treated at the aid station. He didn’t think he would ever see me alive again because I was such a bloody mess. He thought they were giving me blood or plasma. He said that there were leaves, grass, and dirt mixed in the blood that covered my body.

The platoon was in a large field near a small village with low-lying hills beyond. Everything was so bleak and desolate. I heard a rifle shot in the distance. No one paid attention to it. I was as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but tried not to show it. We had hot C-rations. We loaded onto two trucks after eating chow and were taken to positions to dig in for the night. The platoon, other than a few new faces, appeared to be resilient, resolute, and resonated the same reticulation that reflected the 1st Platoon prior to my being wounded. The company was in the vicinity of Unsan, where the 8th Cavalry Regiment had come to grief in late October and the first of November when Colonel Fisher received orders to pull back to the vicinity of Yongbyon.

Day 160 - Friday 01 December 1950

At daybreak I could see down the finger ridge we were on. I could not see anything in the dark the night before when we climbed the hill.  The hill was by no means as steep as what I had perceived it to be in the dark. A lot of scrub pine and what appeared to be pin oak bushes covered the hills. The wind was very cutting. If I had the winter clothing that had been issued to C Company, I don’t think I would have noticed it so much. I went to chow. I wrote a letter while my foxhole buddy went to chow. Late in the afternoon we moved, hiked, and rode a truck to new positions. We crossed the Kuryong River.

Day 161 - Saturday 02 December 1950

It was not as cold this morning. The wind ceased rattling the leaves on the scrub bushes. An entire Chinese Field Army could have walked through our positions and we would not have heard them due to the rattling of the leaves. I had not heard a shot since the 30th. We moved from our position at midafternoon, crossing the Chongchon River to Anju. There was no rush--it was done in a leisurely, orderly fashion. We took up positions not far from the road. I hated to see the sun go down. The boats were shallow, and when we got in, the water was up to the gunwale. We were careful not to get wet, as we had to help paddle across.

Day 162 - Sunday 03 December 1950

A very cold night passed without incident as the sun crept slowly over the distant ridge to start its short day of work. We were on the move again. No rumor about B Company. They lost 177 men; only 26 made it out alive of Task Force Dolvin. B was a great company under the excellent leadership of Frank Russell, the Company Commander. We were assigned to several small hills looking over a desolate, deserted, dingy village stretching along the base of the hills. We dug in for the night.

Day 163 - Monday 04 December 1950

The sun reluctantly came out through broken clouds, but did little to take the chill out of the air. We started moving out early this morning, approaching Pyongyang from the north. A lot of rumors were floating around as to the situation on the ground. Vehicles were everywhere. The narrow road was bumper to bumper. Units mixed up as they ground along through the scant powdery brown snow swirling as the wind blew it around the vehicles. Once we got about five miles south of Pyongyang, we moved into fields on both sides of the road to dig in. Our assignment was to screen out the Army units and to fight a delaying action if the Chinese attacked.

We staked out our claim between the rows of the cotton patch to the left of the road facing north toward the city. We tried to dig foxholes, but the ground was frozen so hard that it was impossible to dig with an entrenching tool. We were able to get picks off of the tankers to dig a very shallow hole. We explored a village to our left rear. Someone found a chicken and an old woman was more than glad to cook it for us. Not much food for our six-man squad. The road was about 100 yards to our right and our holes were about 100 yards apart. The 2nd Platoon was in line across the road. We had four tanks; two on each side of the road. Bumper to bumper traffic and people on foot were creeping along. Night came early.

Day 164 - Tuesday 05 December 1950

At last I awoke. The Lord provided providential protection for me during the night. Several times during the night I was stepped on or tripped over by people, but each time I went right back to sleep. As the night yielded to dawn, all I could see was legs and the hustle of feet. The road was still packed with people on foot, hand carts, Korean vehicles, and Eighth Army traffic. The 29th British Brigade was screening north of Pyongyang, so we were not concerned. A part of the brigade pulled back through our positions.

As daylight came on, I awakened Paul, my foxhole buddy. The cold was as intense as the crowd of people rushing by us as though they were going to work via way of a Tokyo subway station. I could not believe the number of people on the move as far as I could see in front of us toward Pyongyang, and it appeared that the ground was moving up and down like the swells on the ocean as far back as I could see to the crest of the small sloping ground behind us, to the left and right perhaps 200 yards, heads were bobbing up and down. Some children, lost from their parents or loved ones, were crying and calling for their mother and father as they trudged through the light cover of the fallen snow. What a sight, what sounds, what sympathy for those who were fleeing south in sub-zero weather, carrying all of their earthly belongings.

Later in the day, elements of the 29th British Brigade and the Royal Ulster Battalion were on the road withdrawing. They reported that the “Chinks” were crossing the Taedong River into Pyongyang. The ammunition dump was lighting up the sky in Pyongyang last night. We watched it on our turns at guard, but it died down as the night wore on. The Air Force bombed it every day to destroy the supply. Paul took first turn at guard.

Day 165 - Wednesday 06 December 1950

A tug on my field jacket by my foxhole buddy awakened me to take my last two hours of guard before daylight. As I pondered the events of the last few days, I watched the fireworks lighting up the sky over Pyongyang, created by burning ammo and supply dumps of Eighth Army some five miles away. In the last days of November, I returned to the 1st Platoon, C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division from Tokyo Army Hospital, where I recovered from wounds inflicted by an enemy potato masher grenade on September 27.

We continued our orderly withdrawal from the Unsan/Yongbyon area, the farthest advance of the 35th Infantry Regiment into North Korea. We crossed the Kuryong and Chongchon Rivers to Kunu-ri, Anju, Sinanju, Sukchon and Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Leaving Pyongyang, we continued to hike and ride tanks along Highway One, a two-lane graveled road. The highway was crowded with an assortment of dilapidated vehicles, oxcarts, and push carts. Tired refugees carrying their earthly possessions had meshed in with the convoy of military traffic.

Late in the day, we arrived in a remote area dotted with an occasional house about five miles south of Pyongyang. The 1st Platoon with two Easy Eight (M4A3E8) tanks of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion were assigned positions in a cotton patch to the left of the road. Our foxholes were about 100 yards or more apart and the frozen ground repulsed our digging. The 2nd Platoon with two tanks took up positions to the right of the road. The remainder of C Company continued south to establish defense positions. We had been assigned the mission of screening out units of Eighth Army; the British 29th Brigade was still north of Pyongyang. If necessary, we were to fight a rear guard action.

Yesterday’s setting sun quickly abandoned us, leaving us all alone except for the thousands of refugees in a dreadful, desolate, and dreary no man’s land that disappeared into the darkness of a bitter cold winter night. I was eager for the dawn to appear, as all was quiet in The Land of the Morning Calm except for the shuffling of feet as shadowy figures trod an uncertain path through our positions to an unknown destiny. We heard occasional disturbances of muffled voices, the crying of a child lost from his parents, or a refugee under the burden of his earthly possessions who had stumbled from physical exhaustion on the rough, uneven, frozen ground and regained his composure to continue the struggle. It was a bit more annoying when a refugee stumbled over my buddy who was asleep on the frozen ground or me, but the real concern to us was that the enemy could be moving with the refugees to set up a road block to our rear. Morning broke to reveal a frozen frosty landscape filled with the heads of refugees bobbing up and down as far as the eye could see to the front and rear on the highway and in the adjacent fields. As the day progressed, the wind blew from a northwesterly direction with a few snowflakes swirling down.

About midmorning, a group of refugees formed a circle in the road ditch near a slight bend about 200 yards in front of our positions. We were concerned that it could be the enemy setting up a machine gun in preparation for an attack. Our platoon sergeant sent two of us and an attached South Korean soldier (KATUSA – Korean Attached Troops United States Army) whom we nicknamed Pete to investigate. Pete, an excellent soldier and professional in every way, had served with the Japanese Army during WWII. We made our way around and through hundreds of oncoming refugees who passed the circle unconcerned. I made eye contact with as many as possible to try to detect any enemy soldiers that might be dressed as refugees. We approached the circle unannounced with caution and joined the circle unnoticed. To our surprise, the circle had been forged into a tightly knit unit to keep the cold winter wind at bay. Our presence, if at all noticed, did not deter the feverish activity of the inner circle of women who were speaking rapidly and urgently to each other as some were tearing cloths into strips. The very inner circle was huddled around a woman who travailed in giving birth to a child in the road ditch. All became quiet and an instant later the cry of a newborn baby filled the frigid air, bringing jubilation throughout the circle. We rushed back to the Platoon CP, where a call was made for a Jeep to be sent forward. Sometime later the Jeep arrived to take the mother and her newborn to the rear for shelter and medical care.

Later in the day, we were ordered to force the tide of refugees to leave the road to checkpoints far to the left and right of our positions where they would be screened by South Koreans and the Eighth Army Civil Assistance Command. A few shots had to be fired over their heads to persuade those who were reluctant to leave the road. Late in the day, the kitchen truck arrived with what had at one time been hot chow and C-rations for our next two meals. Just before dark, two P-51 Mustangs flew low over the length of our line.  They were so low I thought they might clip off the antennas on the tanks before banking sharply and turning south.  The tankers said the planes were from a squadron of the Australian Air Force. Each day the Air Force planes bombed and strafed the various dumps in Pyongyang, stoking the fires to provide fireworks of exploding oil, gas, and shells.

As the sun slowly made its departure beyond the distant horizon accompanied by a sullen sky, we sauntered off to our foxholes, not knowing what the night might portend. All units of Eighth Army had passed through our positions, the last being the British 29th Brigade and the Royal Ulster Battalion. Our KATUSA soldiers, who talked with refugees, reported that the Chinese and North Korean troops were on this side of the Taedong River. At chow we learned the details of the capture of a man from the 2nd Platoon last night. This could be the night for an encounter with an enemy patrol to test our mettle and resolve. As I took the first two hours of guard, my foxhole buddy dropped off to sleep instantly. All was quiet, with no shuffling of feet or shadowy figures.  To while away my two hours of guard, staring into the dark expanse and watching the flickering fireworks on the distant horizon, I began to review the day’s events, especially the cry of the newborn baby and the joy it brought to those in the circle.

My mind drifted back to late yesterday when we were eating chow and a refugee made his way into our area. Our attached Korean soldiers engaged him in conversation. Two of our Korean soldiers and a man from the 2nd Platoon went with him to a nearby house and returned to unfold the following account. During the previous night, a Korean refugee, his wife, mother-in-law, and father-in-law were walking south when his father-in-law insisted they leave him in a nearby house while they continued their journey. They wanted to stay with him, but because of his continued insistence, they agreed to continue.  The son-in-law was to return the next day to help him. After making him as comfortable as possible, they bid him goodbye. After traveling a short distance, the mother-in-law insisted that she return to be with her husband. When the son-in-law returned the next day, he entered the house to find them huddled together because of the cold. When he sought to awake them, they did not respond – they had frozen to death. Life and death goes on despite circumstances. We do not choose the time, place, parents or circumstances of our birth; neither do we determine the time, place or circumstances of our death. Life and death do not stop for the weary, the worn, the wayfaring, the weather, the war, or whatever.

One has said that he could not let his schooling get in the way of his education; and as for me, a 19-year old, the last two days had been a vital part of my education. The events of the past two days played out vividly what I read in my Gideon New Testament:

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” - James 4:14

As I watched the flickering fireworks on the distant horizon, I contemplated the miracle of a life conceived and manifested in the road ditch, bringing a ray of hope and joy, assuaging the suffering amid the cruel excruciating pain of the surrounding circumstances that were beyond belief. These circumstances precipitated physical hardship--claiming the lives of the old Korean gentleman and his wife and bringing grief to their daughter and son-in-law.  The brevity of things reminded me of the beautiful snowflakes that fell on my field jacket sleeve, each with its own unique, intricate design reflecting a rainbow of color from the sun. The snowflakes melted, forming a tiny drop of water and evaporating into a vapor.  But due to the intense cold, the snowflakes ablated, disappearing in an instant, transformed from a crystal of frozen ice to a vapor without forming a drop of water.

The burdens of life are many.  The days seem unbearably long, and we are tempted to despair, but the Lord Jesus Christ said,

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  - Matthew 11:28-30

Day 166 - Thursday 07 December 1950

A hard frost covered the desolate cotton patch as daylight crept over the landscape. The days were so short and the nights were so long, silent and cold. The Air Force continued to bomb and strafe the dump in Pyongyang to provide beautiful fireworks at night. For security reasons, we wished that our foxholes were a bit closer. We had two tanks with us on each side of the road. They could be very helpful if a large enemy force was to attack during the day, but they would not be of much help in a night attack.

The number of refugees coming south had diminished. I thought that the enemy must be near and that they would most likely do an end run and cut us off with a road block to our rear. We were already cut off from the rear body of troops – a mere two platoons of us stretched far apart on each side of the road.

I gave Paul a shake. We walked over to the road to wait for the Jeep to bring morning chow and C-rations. Some men from the 2nd Platoon had the same idea. They told us that a man had been captured last night. He went to a foxhole to his left to find out what time it was, but they did not have a watch so he went back by his foxhole to the next position on his right. They told him the time, but he never made it back to his foxhole. Some thought he went AWOL. I only knew him by face. The chow Jeep didn’t show. Today was Pearl Harbor Day.

Day 167 - Friday 08 December 1950

Paul gave me a shake. He let me sleep a little later than usual. It had been another clear, cold night. The sun had cleared the horizon. The chow Jeep arrived. No explanation was given as to why we did not get our food and ration for the day. We kept our rations from freezing with body heat. The cans were put inside close to our bodies.

At chow we learned that we got a new Regimental Commander. Hammering Hank had pneumonia and had to be evacuated. He would be hard to replace. Some said that he was the best Regimental Commander in the Eighth Army. They had no idea who the new commander was.

We had another fly by. Two F-51 Mustangs were flying so low they could almost cut the radio antennas off the tanks. They flew the length of our thin line; perhaps they wanted to give us a bit of encouragement. I loved to see them at any time, high or low, but it was a real treat when they were so low we could feel the prop wash.

We were settling into our holes for another night in the cotton patch when a Jeep arrived with orders for us to withdraw and join our parent company. We walked about three miles before the tanks came along. We boarded the tanks for our cold ride to our company area. We slept in some cold shacks.

Day 168 - Saturday 09 December 1950

We were awakened in the darkened shack. We pulled ourselves together and tumbled out through the small door to the cold winter morning just beginning to dawn. We ate our breakfast in the courtyard of the Company CP. We continued our journey south, walking and riding tanks. I was given a sleeping bag--a down-filled sleeping bag--an item that was next to my rifle in its importance. It was extremely cold and more so when riding tanks. The powdered snow mixed with the pulverized dust on the roads sifted down on everything. We hiked into a village to spend the night. I climbed into the sleeping bag.

Day 169 - Sunday 10 December 1950

We were awakened in the cold room of the shack. I hated to leave the warmth of the down sleeping bag. What a difference it made to have it.  I stayed as warm as toast all night for a good night’s sleep. A down sleeping bag was hard to get out of and harder to roll up. The wind was cold and piercing, with an occasional cloud of the yellow dust on the road blown up to choke us. We hiked and rode tanks. When we took a break from our work of hiking and riding tanks, we found rice straw to build fires.  But to keep warm we had to stand close to or in the fire. We passed through Hwang-gu to Sariwon.

Day 170 - Monday 11 December 1950

We were on the road early. Things had slowed a bit. Not a lot of time to write, so I tried to jot down a mental note of conditions. No contact with the enemy. Most of us only carried one bandolier of ammunition for our M1s, plus our cartridge belt. It was warmer, but still bitter cold at night. The down-filled sleeping bag was excellent for keeping warm. I wished I had had winter clothing like the rest of the men – especially gloves.

Day 171 - Tuesday 12 December 1950

We were on the road early this morning. We crossed the Yesong-gang River. Things were moving slowly, no hurry. There was nothing of much value in Kumchon. It was warmer, but the sun did not have much heat and when it departed behind the hill, it took all the warmth with it. We were moving and digging in, but we did not dig deep as the ground was frozen so deep.

Day 172 - Wednesday 13 December 1950

The curtain rose ever so slowly this morning due to the dense low clouds that defrauded and demeaned the bleak landscape. Late in the afternoon the sun broke through. The weather had abated so it was not as cold-- it must have been in the 40’s. The curtain closed, leaving us to endure the long cold night. Not a lot of complaint, just the ordinary gripes, but Frenchie made a joke of gripes or gripes a joke. We took up positions on some low hills. We climbed into our sleeping bags with clothes and boots on, but zipped them only half way. On guard we sat up with the sleeping bag up to our waist. When available, we put rice straw underneath the sleeping bag to keep us off the cold ground. If rice straw was not available, we broke off pine tree limbs, though they were not very comfortable to sleep on.

Day 173 - Thursday 14 December 1950

We hiked most of the morning under overcast skies. It warmed up into the 40's by late afternoon. We had to wait our turn to cross the Imgin River by boat. The boats would not accommodate very many men at a time. We did not get across until late in the afternoon as the sun was packing up and leaving for the day. I enjoyed a hot meal and a beautiful sunset.

We hiked up the hill to our positions in the twilight to form line Baker since line Able was abandoned. When we reached the top of the hill, we spread out. No guards were posted. A light mist of rain was falling. We dropped where we were in the dark in between the small scrub bushes that dotted the hillside and got into our sleeping bags.  We never zipped completely up and always slept with our boots and clothing on. As a light rain was falling, I turned on my side and pulled the sleeping bag over me and my face to keep the rain from hitting me in the face. I was exhausted, sleepy, and hungry.

Day 174 - Friday 15 December 1950

When I awoke I could tell that it was brighter and later than normal. I felt weighted down and movement required effort from head to toe as I struggled to roll over and sit up in a sitting position. What a beautiful sight. About six to seven inches of snow had fallen during the night – a picture postcard landscape. I was ever so warm in the down sleeping bag with the snow adding extra insulation. I could not see any other men or hear any sounds of life. I was a bit concerned that they could have withdrawn during the night and I was left behind. The snow was still sifting down. I could see mounds under the snow scattered helter-skelter on the side of the hill. From each of the mounds a small hole was visible with a puff of steam coming out. I repositioned myself in my sleeping bag, but did not want to go back to sleep. I did not want to wake anyone up, so I enjoyed the warmth of the sleeping bag.

Sometime later I heard some groans and sounds of life, so I climbed out of my sleeping bag and rolled it up. I dug my pack and M1 out from under the snow. We hiked down the hill to the Company CP for chow. The Company CP was located in a cluster of houses and sheds with their thatched roofs covered with snow nestled at the base of the hill about a mile from our hill. A lovely location and the snow made it a winter wonderland so peaceful and quiet.

After chow we hiked back on the hill. We were assigned positions. Frenchie was assigned as my foxhole buddy. Our location was near the entrance of our perimeter looking down a long finger ridge. We started digging our foxhole, but decided that with the snow we would be better off to put a roof on it – sort of a makeshift bunker for protection from the elements. Since we were covering a finger ridge that the enemy might use in an attack, they put a light machine gun in our hole to bolster the perimeter. The days were short, so we never got a lot accomplished, but there was always tomorrow. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions were on the Imjin River and the 1st Battalion was in a blocking position to secure the right flank of the regiment where it joined the ROK (Republic of Korea) Regiment. They might or might not be dependable.

Day 175 - Saturday 16 December 1950

The sun emerged over the distant horizon. I gave Frenchie a shake and told him I was heading for chow. After each meal we carried ammo back up the hill for the machine gun or barb wire. Several drums of gasoline were located to our front. The drums were secured to a clump of bushes. If we were attacked, we would fire the machine gun and the tracers would set it on fire so we could see the enemy.

I never knew where Frenchie stood on issues. He was a poor soldier in garrison and being a “Yankee” didn’t help me to have confidence in him. We continued to dig our bunker deeper and wider for additional comfort. Paihinui, who was from Hawaii, and Moreno from Alaska were dug in to our right. Paihinui had just returned from the hospital. He was wounded on the 9th of August when a bullet passed through the back of his neck while he was on patrol. I had some stomach cramps and took first turn at guard.

Day 176 - Sunday 17 December 1950

Frenchie woke me up when he went to chow. I went on the back side of the hill and got our fire going. It was Sunday, but we did not take a break in the Army when it was at war. A Chaplain came up for services. A few of us attended. He was a new Chaplain. I somehow did not relate to him as with the regular Chaplain who came. He for sure was not a Methodist or a Baptist--he was different. We got the roof on and taken care of for the most part. It provided a sense of protection, albeit a false one. There was no protection from the wintry wind.

Day 177 - Monday 18 December 1950

I did not get much sleep last night. I had the GIs and I was in and out of the bunker all night – a condition that was not conducive to sleeping. The weather took a turn for the worse. Our bunker, the only one in the perimeter, was situated so as to catch the wind as it drove up the valley and across the ridge with great velocity like a wind tunnel. I went to early chow. Most wanted to sleep in, but I was starved when daylight came around. The village of Yulgong-ni was on our regimental right front and Munsan-ni was on the left of the regimental line. We felt rather safe in our positions since we were not facing the enemy. A request for a man to be at Regimental Headquarters to answer the phone at night was sent up for any who wanted to interview for the job. One had to be able to speak distinctly, and have good English and handwriting. We all wanted to apply, but we did not possess the qualifications.  We all thought Paul Blanton had the necessary qualifications.

Day 178 - Tuesday 19 December 1950

The weather was up to something – most likely snow. Scrub bushes on the distant hills turned gun metal grey to black. My dad said that was a sign of cold weather. No new snow fell during the night. The wind drove right through our clothing. It was very taxing to stare out into the night because leaves on the scrub bushes rattled and some occasional outgoing mail made it hard to distinguish all of the sounds that the ear heard that must be sorted out from the sound of an approaching enemy patrol or major attack. We spoke to Paul about the position at Regiment. We spend a lot of time around our little fire to keep warm during the day. I wished that there was some way of having a little of the heat at night. We didn’t have but some makeshift planks and rocks to sit on. We did not have helmets to sit on and the pile caps had to keep our head warm. Darkness came early.

Day 179 - Wednesday 20 December 1950

I was up at daybreak and started the fire on our campsite. I went to chow and the mail clerk gave me a letter from Sis. More snow was on the ground. We got several inches last night and all together we had about a foot of snow on the ground. There was some drifting from the wind. We all had our say around the fire as to what, when and where the enemy was going to strike. The Chinese said for GIs to leave Korea by January 1 or they would drive us into the sea. Many said they would attack on Christmas Day. We spoke to Paul about the advantages of applying for the job at Regiment. The day passed all too quickly. We had to drag ourselves away from the fire that we let die out. We slowly departed for our holes.

Day 180 - Thursday 21 December 1950

The sun eked out a little place in the broken clouds on the distant horizon to reveal a few loose leaves skiing around over the frozen snow. I was somewhat better of the GIs. Paul, after our insisting and badgering, went for the interview at regiment. Line crossers came through the ROK 1st Division and reported that the CCF troops were massing in front of us. It was reported that they used camels to transport supplies. The 116th and 39th Armies were out in front. I wrote Sis and Dad a letter. Paul came back from the interview – he was expected to be a CQ Radio Operator, Telephone and Communication Chief, speak clearly and use correct English. They did not give any indication if he got the job. The new Regimental Commander, Colonel Kelleher spoke with him briefly. We got our last bit of warmth from our fire and proceeded to our holes for the night. I wished that I had warm clothing like the other men. The tip of my fingers and toes tingled and were numb. I think they were slightly frost bitten.

Day 181 - Friday 22 December 1950

It was another cold night with a bit of fresh snow falling during the night. After morning chow we sat around the fire chewing the fat. At noon I left for early chow. Halfway down the hill on the somewhat slippery trail I saw about a dozen GIs coming up the hill – perhaps replacements, but when they got closer I could see they were officers being led by our company commander. I stepped off the trail into the deep snow to let the delegation by. One was our ADC (Assistant Division Commander), General Sladen Bradley. I sort of nodded my head in recognition of each one as they passed. I proceeded on down the trail to chow. After eating chow I picked up a large can of grapefruit juice that was frozen solid to share with the men on the hill. We thawed it by the fire a bit at a time, passed it around for everyone to take a sip, then put it back by the fire. A new replacement would not drink after us, but we did not mind as it was more for us.

About halfway up the hill I could see the delegation of brass descending the trail, so I put the can of grapefruit juice under my parka to conceal it. Again, I stepped off the path to let them by.  After all, I was just a rifleman and lived this life every day. They were just tourists. I wanted to make a good impression, thinking that maybe they would want to change jobs with me or join us for a day or so. Our CO was walking behind the ADC, who stopped and spoke to me. I was a bit anxious for him to move on, but was delighted to answer his questions. What was my position in the platoon? How long had I been with C Company? Our CO was standing next to General Bradley, so I was doing my best to provide the correct answers. General Bradley asked why I was wearing a parka. I told him a GI had given me the Parka. He remarked that it was not a winter issue of clothing. He asked me why I did not have winter clothing. I told him that I had returned from Tokyo Army Hospital about a month ago to the platoon in Kunu-ri in North Korea, having been wounded by a hand grenade on the 27th of September. He made no comment, then quickly grabbed my parka and pulled it open to expose the can of grapefruit juice.  He remarked, “Did you steal this at the mess hall?” I told him that a good soldier never comes up short and that back on the hill it would be thawed out by the fire and shared with my fellow riflemen. Though he did not express it in words, I could tell that General Bradley was quite happy with my answers during our brief and brisk exchange of words. He could sense that I was covering up for a poor company commander, and I could sense that he would chew out our CO at the CP. He wished me a good day. I tried to do the same, but was a bit nervous as I let the brass pass by.

I continued my trek up the slippery slope of the hill. It was still cold. We sat around the fire sipping the grapefruit juice and discussing the ADC visit. As the sun sank behind the distant hill and darkness set in, a GI came to the platoon perimeter and shouted for Scott. He had a package for me – a full winter issue of clothing suitable for the conditions – all brand new. I stripped down quickly on the hillside.  The wind was gusting, but I put on the new issue of clothing. I was shivering stark naked and the clothing was as cold as ice.  I did not think my body heat would ever return to warm up the several layers of clothes.  I was sure glad that our ADC General Bradley took notice that I did not have winter clothing. I would like to have heard the conversation between the ADC and our CO.  The CO was not much of a leader. He was taking the place of Captain Pannell who was sent back to Japan to be with his wife who was quite ill. He would leave when Captain Pannell returned--and that could not be too soon.

Day 182 - Saturday 23 December 1950

Another day dawned over the frozen landscape. I was thankful that I was over the GIs.  It would have been a disaster trying to get my clothing down in time to relieve myself. I was thankful for the winter clothing and it made the weather more bearable. I went to chow. The Filipinos came off the hill with empty sand bags pulled up over their boots and tied around at the knees. They had not experienced anything like this in their life and found it hard or impossible to adjust to the cold.

Back to the platoon – we carried a large supply of ammunition, grenades, and barbed wire to fortify our position against a long sustained attack. We enjoyed our time around the fire from the serious to the frivolous discussions. When the sun packed up the day, we slowly left the fire for our foxholes for a long night of listening, looking, languishing, and living another day. We were told that probing attacks had occurred along the line to test the line, then find a weak place to attack, but this action did not touch the 2nd or 3rd Battalions on the river. We got news of General Walker being killed in a road accident. We were to have a high alert Christmas Day and have our Christmas dinner tomorrow.

Day 183 - Sunday 24 December 1950

The sun was a welcome sight this morning as I sat in our bunker on guard. Everything was so quiet and still, except for the past few mornings when I heard singing, voices, and melodious tunes of Christmas carols or hymns.  I could not make out the words, but the lilting rhythm floated up from the distance and a small village we could not see.

I went to early chow. They only served two meals this day – breakfast and Christmas dinner, which was served late in the afternoon. We spent the day around the fire speculating about an enemy attack, either that night or the next morning. A call came up to the Platoon CP that Christmas dinner was ready. I went to early chow. All the food one could expect in garrison we had that day. We went through the chow line as usual, heaping all the food on our mess gear that it could hold, and we got our coffee. I walked to the paddy dike which served as a table, stomping the snow down on the dike. We put our mess gear and coffee down, squatted down, and enjoyed our meal. Back on the hill we were like a bunch of stuffed turkeys. We took the day easy as we pondered the tactical situation of the enemy. As the saying goes, “Never a horse that can’t be rode; never a man who can’t be throwed.” If they came, we would know who rode or got throwed. Time would tell. Frenchie took first turn at guard.

Day 184 - Monday 25 December 1950

It was extremely cold this morning with lots of snow. Several days ago our regiment was alerted for possible line crossers. Since then we heard that line crossers had crossed in the sector of the 1st ROK Division on our right flank. They reported that Chinese troops were massing in front of units on the Imjin River. Another night of waiting, listening, and expecting the attack that everyone thought would come on Christmas Day. Late last night and in the early morning hours just before daybreak I could faintly hear voices drifting up from the small village in the valley below. They were the voices of Korean Christians singing Christmas carols. This was the second time I had heard them singing.

Paul Moreno came over to chat when I was on guard. We spoke in whispers. He complained about his feet and hands being numb. Paul was from Skagway, Alaska, so he should have been able to take the cold. The day passed slowly as we sat around our fire, each speculating as to when the “Chinks” would attack.  Some were reminiscent of home and Christmas. I took a nap in our bunker in the afternoon since I was to take the first turn at guard.

Day 185 - Tuesday 26 December 1950

The sun arose on time this morning, but did little in its assault to drive the cold, dull gray sky away. It was another night of patient waiting for the bugles and the whistles to blow – the signal of an attack by the enemy. I enjoyed hearing the voices of Korean Christians singing early that morning. George Paihinui from Hawaii came over for a chat while I was on guard. Paihinui had just returned from the hospital. He was shot while on patrol last August 9. He animated how he was wounded.  It was really quite funny.  He told how the patrol was fired upon and how he sought cover behind a bush that was no more than a weed.  An enemy bullet hit the back of his neck, passing through below his skull and his seventh vertebra, missing his spinal cord. Though Paihinui was skinny and moped around, he was quick as a cat. When he was with the company in Japan, he was on the boxing team. It warmed up a bit, though the overcast sky remained all day. We were all quite dirty. The last shower I had was on the USS Mitchell in Inchon Harbor on Thanksgiving Day.

Day 186 - Wednesday 27 December 1950

The day dawned to reveal a frozen landscape covered with snow. I travelled with three other GIs down the slippery trail to the CP to eat morning chow. At midmorning a message came up to the Platoon CP for Paul Blanton to report to the Company CP. A Jeep was waiting to take him to his new position at Regimental Headquarters. We bid him farewell, wished him well, and hated to see him go, but we felt it was for his own comfort and safety. Blanton had been with the 1st Platoon since early August.

The sky had been bleak all day, and the distant ridgelines were steel gray. There was no sunset--just a transition from gray to black, and the bitter cold followed the transition to make it more miserably cold. The stiff breeze rattled the leaves on the scrub oak bushes and pierced any opening in our clothing. I turned in early, as it was Frenchie’s time to pull our first two hours of guard. I was a bit tired from stringing barbed wire.

Day 187 - Thursday 28 December 1950

I was glad to see the dawn of a new day, as it was very taxing last night trying to sort out the sounds and sight of things as the wind swayed the small scrub oak bushes back and forth and rustled their leaves. The Chinks could have marched an entire field army up to our parapet without us hearing them. A less disciplined company would have fired at the moving bushes all night. Right then we did not have to worry about it, because they were not going to attack until the first day of January, according to rumors.

I got a sheet of fancy stationery with a beautiful red iris in the left-hand corner from my squad leader. He got a package from his girlfriend which also contained this stationery. I sat by the fire and wrote Dad a letter. I got a package of cigarettes that was from War, West Virginia. I went on sick call because the shrapnel in the base of my mastoid bone was aggravated by the cold. I saw a Navy doctor who was on exchange with the doctor from our aid station who was aboard a Navy ship. The Navy doctor was just like the Army doctor – dispensing APC pills for whatever ailed us. We had three hot meals a day. Another night of waiting awaited us.

Day 188 - Friday 29 December 1950

I awoke to another cold morning with the temperatures near zero. We had no way of telling the exact temperature, which was just as well. A rumor had started that they would serve our New Year’s dinner a day early, but we were to have company on the First – “Chinks are to come visiting,” according to their propagandist. We just had to wait around for them.  Higher echelon reported the day before that the Chinese had started their drive by infiltrating the ROK 3rd Corps as civilians some 15 miles to the east of us. Once they breached the line, they would seek to advance quickly into rear areas to set up road blocks. We were to be extra cautious.

We spent most of the day stringing barbed wire in our platoon’s perimeter that we considered vulnerable and taking frequent breaks to warm around the fire. The days were short and the sun broke through the broken clouds to bid us adieu before sinking behind the distant ridgeline. We slowly drifted to our positions for another night of patient waiting.

Day 189 - Saturday 30 December 1950

The sun rose very reluctantly and for a while seemed to be rejuvenated, but the clouds smothered its remaining energy to produce another bleak day. The night was uneventful. We thought a probing attack might be in order in the 2nd and 3rd Battalions sector on the river if they were planning an attack on the first day of the New Year. The 1st ROK Division on our right allowed a penetration of about 10,000 yards, which was about five miles into their rear area. From reports, they must have contained the penetration and restored the lost ground for the time being. We had regular chow, so there was no truth in the rumor that we would have New Year’s Day dinner early. The sun was so weak that it just set without notice. It was not quite as cold, since the wind had ceased for the time being.

Day 190 - Sunday 31 December 1950

The sun dawned on the last day of the year 1950. It was not as cold and there was no new snow. We had no idea as to what to expect after several nights of patient waiting. Though we were in a blocking position, one would think that we were in the main path of an enemy attack the way we were dug in and had strung barbed wire. We saw jets leaving vapor trails as they headed north to interdict the Chinks who were massing for an attack, but so far there was no activity in our street. We could hear the noise of small arms and artillery fire to our far right. The Chinese were good at cutting off units by road blocks, though they had little to fight with. Though the Chinks were good soldiers, it was our considered opinion that they were not as good as the “Guks” of North Korea. There was still no early New Year’s dinner as to the rumors floating around. The latest rumor was that we would have the big feed on New Year’s Day. We let the fires die down as the sun made its departure over the distant frozen landscape. We trudged through the snow to positions to wait for the New Year--and perhaps our guests.


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Combat in 1951

Day 191 - Monday 01 January 1951

The dawn of the new day on the first day of the New Year was like most other days, revealing frozen scrub bushes covered with frost in The Land of the Morning Calm. There was a glimmer of hope that the dull gray clouds would break up and allow for some sunshine today. I went down the slippery trail to chow. We sat around the fire most of the morning, swapping stories and speculating what the Chinks were up to. We had plenty of ammunition, trip flares, booby traps, and barbed wire to cover weak areas of our perimeter. The only thing we were in short supply of was food. A call came up to our CP that the big meal was ready, so a few of us sauntered off the hill to eat. They had quite a spread of food, just like Christmas Day. I went to the chow line and the cooks filled my mess gear with food and a canteen cup of coffee. As I walked to join others at a patty dike to eat, I could not help contemplating the aroma of the food and the sun shining through the scattered clouds on the white snow.

We had just started eating when Lieutenant DeVito, our Executive Officer, ran out of the Company CP and shouted that the enemy had broken through the ROK 1st Division on our right and we were in danger of being cut off before nightfall. He shouted for us to get moving. We kept on eating, thinking it was a joke until he started kicking over some mess gears. We gorged what food we could off our mess gears as we made our way to wash the mess gears and return them to the kitchen truck. As we made our way up the slippery trail, we met men coming off the hill carrying equipment and ammunition. Frenchie was carrying the light machine gun that was in our bunker.

Arriving at our positions, our Platoon Sergeant told us to carry equipment and ammunition down to the Company CP to be loaded on the truck. I got the tripod for the light machine gun and three boxes of machine gun ammo and headed down the slippery trail to the CP. We only had an hour to clear the hill of equipment and ammunition.  What ammo was left that we did not have time to remove was to be thrown in our bunker. Between trips we helped ourselves to the food that was left out. I replaced my three hand grenades with three cans of chocolate milk in my grenade pouch. Most of the platoon was off the hill when a few of us were detailed to check each hole for equipment and ammo. Any ammo that we found we put in our bunker. A white phosphorus grenade was thrown in our bunker and we started off the hill. We could hear the exploding ordnance going off in the bunker as we made our way down the hill.

We left the company and made our way down the narrow road to the main road. On the main road there were troops on both side of the road taking a break. A former A Company, 12th AIB man shouted, “Scott.” It was Gaskins. He told me that he was in G Company and had been on the river. We had to end our chat, as my platoon was now several hundred yards down the road and darkness was closing in.

As I made my way down the road to catch up with the platoon, I thought about my short chat with Gaskins. The last time I saw him was five months ago in Japan. He had not changed; he was always cheerful and had a good disposition. It was indeed thoughtful that Gaskins sought me out being a true friend and concerned about my welfare in these desperate conditions of war and weather that we both endured.

As darkness enveloped us, we moved closer together so we would not lose contact with the man in front. It was absolutely essential that we did not get lost and take a wrong turn as they did at Taejon. We came to a small village where several shacks and houses were on fire. The smoke obscured our vision except when a gust of wind changed abruptly, clearing the smoke away. As I started through, the wind gust forced the flames down toward me.  I had to duck and retreat, turning my back to the flames for protection. I turned and had to wait until the wind shifted and the flames abated momentarily before I could dash through the opening into the darkness. I could not see the column of men, so I had to guess which direction they had taken. I did not want to be wrong, as the entire column behind me was sure to follow. At last I caught up with the platoon.

We had marched several hours since sunset and the intense cold, due to the forced march, was not noticed until the column came to a halt for us to take a short break. We fell out on the side of the road exhausted, and most of us immediately dropped off to sleep. When the order was given for us to saddle up and resume the march, the sergeants had to kick a lot of men to get them up. When I awoke I did not want to move. The sweat that had formed on my clothing felt like ice. I struggled to get on my feet and the march continued. We marched for several hours before boarding trucks that took us into a town devastated by the ravages of war. We entered into some shacks to spend what was left of the night.

Day 192 - Tuesday 02 January 1951

Sometime early this morning we boarded trucks. The air was bitter cold. The truck provided no protection from the cold and the forward movement, albeit slow, intensified the wind. We dismounted and marched while the trucks returned for another load of troops. When we took a break, several of us went to houses to collect rice straw. We built fires alongside of the road with the straw. We did not feel much of the heat because of the amount of clothing we had on. We boarded trucks late in the afternoon. Even though the truck lurched this way and that over the rough road, we managed to sleep by bracing our heads on our M1 rifles that were held between our knees.  We passed an airfield and could make out several P-51 Mustangs in the darkness. We knew that we must have been near or in Seoul.

We unloaded in a section of town and were assigned quarters in houses that had not suffered too much damage. We quickly built a fire with rice straw in the kitchen under the Dutch Ovens. We spread out in the cold room in our sleeping bags and dropped off to sleep. I was awakened by Frenchie, who was coughing and gasping for air.  Immediately I started gasping for air and coughing too, crawling through the small door into the courtyard. The cold night air made it even harder to breath. Men from our squad were tumbling out of the room like bees coming out of a hive, each gasping and coughing. Frenchie’s sleeping bag, which was on the hottest part of the floor, had caught on fire and the down feathers created a worse stench than a smoldering rice straw.  Feathers were everywhere. We left the smoldering sleeping bag outside and returned to the room to finish sleeping what was left of the night. We took up positions north of the Han River later in the day.

Day 193 - Wednesday 03 January 1951

The gray dawn added the final touches to a bleak, forlorn landscape which was also beautiful, considering the design, composition, and a full monochromatic value scale from white to black. One has written, “’Tis well to seek the good things, but do not hunt the bad, for ‘tis those who walk with sorrow that find this world but sad.” We got to sleep a bit later than normal. We ate our morning chow in the narrow lane in the village. We still smelled like a five-alarm fire, our lungs were a bit raw, and our throats were sore.  Frenchie was accused of setting his sleeping bag on fire while smoking, but there was no truth in that accusation.

The road was laden with I Corps traffic moving along orderly southward. We joined the column later in the day. Rumors floated around that we were heading for Mokpo on the southwest coast, where we would board boats to take us to Japan. We crossed the Han River late in the day. Most of the day was spent alternating between hiking and riding trucks and tanks. The 3rd Battalion was assigned the rear guard to cover our withdrawal. The tanks we were riding pulled off the road to fill up with gas that had been dropped off in various locations in a field. The gas was in 55-gallon drums. We were frozen through and through. Some of the men in our platoon loosened the bung in one of the drums, then turned the drum over and started rolling the drum. The gas sloshed out on the ground. Another man struck a match and set the gas on fire, but it was so cold the gas would hardly burn. We followed the drum, but were disappointed.  It had seemed such a good idea. In the distance we could hear either tankers or officers shouting to put the fire out. We complied and walked around trying to keep warm. We boarded the tanks and were off again. What gas that was not used would most likely be used by tanks with the 3rd Battalion, or the 3rd Battalion would destroy it the next day on their way south. We stopped in a rather large remote village to spend the night.

Day 194 - Thursday 04 January 1951

No snow, but brooding clouds were heavy laden, suppressing the sun as it sought to break through. We ate our morning chow and started our march south. We later boarded trucks which took us to the vicinity of Ch’onan, where we dismounted and continued on foot to a rather large deserted village some distance from the main highway. We were assigned quarters, and I must add that our accommodations were very good according to Korean standards. The landscape was beautiful, with ten to fourteen inches of snow draped on everything. The village reminded me of a small Japanese painting of a village in winter that hung on our wall back home – so peaceful and quiet. It was a bit warmer until dark. We only had to pull two hours of guard tonight.

Day 195 - Friday 05 January 1951

The sun was still struggling to break through the clouds. This was unbelievable duty – we only did two hours of guard each night, with two walking guard together along a portion of the stone wall. The perimeter around the village was divided into several guard posts and each platoon was responsible for the assigned portion of the perimeter. We got hot chow three times a day. The snow covered landscape was as beautiful at night as it was during the day. I took some time to write to Mom and Dad to let them know that I got their package. I mailed some North Korean money and a North Korean post card to Jack.

Day 196 - Saturday 06 January 1951

The sun was up this morning without a cloud to hinder its faint, warm rays. Things were becoming more like garrison duty here – we would have been doing close order drill if it were not for the twelve to eighteen inches of snow. I sent a drawing home that a Japanese made of me when I was in Japan in the Tokyo Army Hospital. I got a letter from Dad, who was in the hospital. I also got a letter from Eugene Ballard.  He was in the Headquarter Battery, 34th Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, APO 468 c/o Post Master, San Francisco, California. We got some new replacements today.

Day 197 - Sunday 07 January 1951

The sun arrived to reveal a beautiful day. The weather had abated and some of the snow had melted, leaving a few bare spots where the sun struck the snow.  The snow on the north side of the hill was left unscathed. The Chaplain came to our area this afternoon and some of us attended the services. While a lot of rumors were floating around, most were to be taken with a grain of salt as to what the future held. At the time, morale was high. Some changes were going to be made in the platoon since we received some new replacements.

Day 198 - Monday 08 January 1951

The sun came around for another visit. We spent the day cleaning and caring for our equipment. We appreciated the three hot meals a day and the additional sleep. While there was plenty of time to write, there was nothing to write about. When on line there was no convenient time to write. Since taking up quarters at this location, we found that white body lice had taken up residence in our clothing. This was never a problem during the day, but at night they were a menace.  As one of the men said, “They come out at night for close order drill.” They were still talking about changes in the platoon’s organization. They hinted for me to be the BAR Man.

Day 199 - Tuesday 09 January 1951

The sun made a weak appearance this morning. After chow we discussed all the important issues that confronted us. Tadashi and Warfield told me that I would look impressive carrying a BAR.  They said it would add class to my step and correct any postural or posterior defects that I might have.  They also said that the BAR would keep my feet on the ground--it was the weapon of choice for street sweeping and keeping unwanted visitors away. Though I was Hall’s assistant when we broke out of the Pusan Perimeter, I knew little about a BAR other than its capability, its weight, the enormous amount of ammo to feed that baby, and its ability to draw enemy fire as soon as it spoke. I consented to become a BAR Man, reluctantly giving up my M1 rifle. Considering the new replacements, it would have been unfair to assign them to a BAR. The weather was warming slightly, but was by no means a spring thaw.

Day 200 - Wednesday 10 January 1951

The sun was up and on the job chasing the clouds away, which was no cushy job. More snow had melted off in the valley and in places on the south side of the hills. The BAR occupied most of my time.  I took it apart and put it back together.  I studied its parts and how they functioned. Morale was high, chow was hot, and it had warmed up a little. We were rested, but getting restless.

Day 201 - Thursday 11 January 1951

The day dawned bright and clear. After noon chow I went with Tadashi and the new replacements up the valley to a boxed canyon to zero their rifles in. I wanted to fire the BAR and become acquainted with it before we entered combat again. The BAR was not very attractive; it was heavy and had an enormous appetite; and it would drive nails at 100 yards when fired one round at a time using the bipod. The BAR wanted to creep forward when fired on automatic. After a burst or two, I had to pull it back. The hinged butt plate kept the BAR from dropping off my shoulder.

We returned to our quarters. The battalion medical officer came up and set up shop in a shack to give shots. We lined up and just before we entered the shack we stripped to the waist to get our shots. After getting my shot I walked away, pulling my shirt up when the medic with his syringe shouted for me to come back. When I pulled my shirt down, the needle was still in my arm, having pulled out of the syringe. The frigid air must have caused my muscle to tense up. I ate chow and turned in for the night.

Day 202 - Friday 12 January 1951

The sun made steady progress in melting the snow. Several of us returned to the boxed canyon for target practice. From a child I enjoyed shooting rifles and, when a little older, shotguns. We used outcropping of rock for targets. The bipod was an excellent feature for accuracy when operating in the semi-automatic or automatic mode. The weight of the BAR soaked up most of the kick. No tools were required to take the BAR apart for cleaning. If I made it another month, I would be 20 years old.

Day 203 - Saturday 13 January 1951

The day dawned to reveal a frosty landscape. We continued to enjoy the three hot meals a day, extra sleep, and the protection from the cold. We were in a static situation due to the politics in Washington rather than the tactical at the present time. The feeling here was, “Let’s do something even if it’s wrong.”

Day 204 - Sunday 14 January 1951

The sun was up bright this morning to clear away the frost. There was still some snow on the north side of the hills. Some of us attended chapel service today near the CP. As well as I recall, there were three Chaplains in the regiment. Two were Captains and the other one was a Major. There was a Catholic Chaplain in the division. We had no information as to who was having the service in our company, and the time of service was variable. Very seldom was there a restriction for one not to attend a service. It was another enjoyable day in our quarters with hot meals and more sleep.

Day 205 - Monday 15 January 1951

The sun was making steady progress in melting the snow. The south side of the hills was clear of snow, while the north side of the hills and the thatched roofs still had several inches that refused to melt. We were still marking time, waiting for orders from higher echelon.

Day 206 - Tuesday 16 January 1951

We heard that Chief of Staff Joe Collins, who served with the Division during WWII as its commander, was in Korea. They reported that he visited the Division CP with General Ridgway, who was the 8th Army Commander. The 27th Infantry made patrols up the main highway trying to make contact with the enemy.

Day 207 - Wednesday 17 January 1951

The sun was out bright this morning. The 27th Infantry continued to run patrols up Highway One with the 89th Medium Tank Battalion against light or no opposition. There were some rumors that we might be moving from here.

Day 208 - Thursday 18 January 1951

The sun had warmed things up slightly, but the mornings were frosty.  As soon as the sun departed behind the hills the cold crept in. We enjoyed our abode here in the thatched houses which provided warmth and a place to sleep. Rumor had it that we would take over the responsibility of the 27th Infantry and take the walled city of Suwon.

Day 209 - Friday 19 January 1951

The sun had a hard time breaking through the dense dark gray clouds. Rumors have a way of coming true. We were assigned the task of taking the walled city of Suwon. The 27th sent patrols with tanks from the 89th Medium Tank Battalion as far as the Han River and returned to behind the line at night. We were glad that some action was being taken, but we were not happy about leaving our thatched roof houses and a life of ease to face the cold days and nights in the open.

Day 210 - Saturday 20 January 1951

We were eating our breakfast as the sun made its appearance through the scattered clouds. There was no additional snow, but it was bitter cold. The 27th Infantry had little contact with the enemy as they continued to run strong patrols up the main highway. We moved up the highway, taking the hills on each side of the road in a calculated manner. Everyone was in good spirits. We were teamed up with some Easy Eight tanks of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. At the end of the day we withdrew a considerable distance and formed a defense perimeter for the night.

Day 211 - Sunday 21 January 1951

The sun took its turn with the clouds – still cold and scattered snow showers. Our movement up Highway One met no real challenge so far, except for brief firefights. Our advance was cautious and calculated, since we had scant knowledge of what was up ahead. At night we continued to pull back to form a defense perimeter that was determined by the terrain and tactical situation. The days seemed a bit longer if the sky was clear at sundown.

Day 212 - Monday 22 January 1951

We moved out before daybreak to eat our chow alongside the road. The tank commanders had their tank engines running. We started up the highway just as the sun came around to reveal the frozen landscape and snow showers. We took the village of Osan-ni with not much resistance. As we took the slack out, we could expect the enemy to contest the ground more vigorously. We continued to pull back and dig shallow foxholes in the frozen ground. We raided a small group of buildings to get rice bags and straw to line our holes to keep us off the frozen ground.

Day 213 - Tuesday 23 January 1951

We left our small, shallow, straw-lined foxholes in the semi-darkness to eat chow. We took a finger ridge against light opposition. During a lull we watched an old Korean lady in the valley some 200 yards away, putting out a fire that was burning in a rice straw fence next to her house. The fire must have been started by an artillery shell. She was oblivious to all around her as she fought the fire with an old rice bag.

We started getting some small artillery fire from our right, which was supposed to be in A Company’s sector. The shells did not have much punch and had a flat trajectory. Corporal Roach was slightly wounded by one of the shells. Several calls were made by our platoon sergeant. No one at company or 1st Battalion Headquarters knew where the fire might be coming from. Thankfully, G Company, on a higher hill overlooking our position, observed the action in A Company.  The latter was shelling us with a 57mm recoilless rifle. G Company got the message through to the 1st Battalion that A Company was firing on C Company. An overzealous lieutenant was responsible for directing the 57mm recoilless fire on us. I hoped that Gaskins remembered that I was in C Company. I was glad to see him briefly on January 1 as we were withdrawing in great haste from the Imjin River.

Day 214 - Wednesday 24 January 1951

It was very cold and frosty as we ate our chow in the semi-darkness. We were glad to have some shelter from the wind and cold in the vacant shacks last night when we were not on guard. We continued up the Osan-Suwon Highway, expecting to encounter the outpost line of resistance of the 50th Chinese Army which was up ahead, according to the intelligence reports.

Day 215 - Thursday 25 January 1951

The light of day arrived all too soon. We were up early this a.m. There was nothing like being on the job from daylight till dark and up half of the night. We were diverted up Highway 20 about five miles east of the walled city of Suwon with the Easy Eights of WWII, but they were dependable monsters.

Day 216 - Friday 26 January 1951

The sun was a welcome sight this morning, but it did not do much to dislocate the cold. We moved out early that morning with the creaking and clattering Easy Eights of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. Some of us ate our C-rations on the move. We took possession of the old walled city of Suwon. Not much remained of the old city – a lot of rubble from bombing and artillery fire. Some of us walked along parts of the city wall. Several of the houses must have been built by wealthy people. The architecture of Suwon was more varied than other villages we had been in. One house appeared to have an outdoor water heater that supplied hot water to the house and a bath house. Most likely it was built by western missionaries who wanted comforts they enjoyed back home. Most, if not all, of the houses had suffered some damage. We took up positions on parts of the city wall to provide security for the night. This was General MacArthur's 71st birthday. Rumor had it that he and General Ridgway visited the Regimental CP today to congratulate Colonel Kelleher on the capture of Suwon.

Day 217 - Saturday 27 January 1951

The sun came up earlier each morning, but it was not noticeable. As the day lengthened, the cold strengthened with the crunch of frozen vegetation and Mother Earth under our feet. We took the low hills on the right side of the road against little to no opposition.

Day 218 - Sunday 28 January 1951

No excitement. We were just taking our time, moving up the highway slowly, taking a hill at a time. The 27th Infantry advanced all the way to the Han River each day. There was some concern that they might be walking into a clever trap – a tactic they were adept at in its execution. Rumor confirmed that General Ridgway visited the Regimental CP with General MacArthur to congratulate Colonel Kelleher for the capture of Suwon by the 35th Infantry. We dug in for the night. Task Force Dolvin, consisting of the 27th Infantry and the 89th Medium Tank Battalion, withdrew through our perimeter each night.

Day 219 - Monday 29 January 1951

We were on the move, but moving slowly and cautiously up toward our final objective – the Seoul-Inchon Highway. No one wanted to gamble or blunder for fear of a repeat of what happened up north, but most of us at our level of thinking felt that we should make the dash to the river in one day.

Day 220 - Tuesday 30 January 1951

The sun had been in hiding the past few days. My foxhole buddy awakened me to another day of cold in The Land of the Morning Calm. Light snow was sifting down. We moved out on the attack, but we had not encountered any opposition for several days. The days were longer now, and if the sun appeared even briefly its warm rays felt good to our exposed skin, although it could not penetrate the layers of our clothing. We pulled back and dug in for the night.

Day 221 - Wednesday 31 January 1951

The sun was about to come up, and from the looks of the sky it would play peek-a-boo with the clouds today. I gave my foxhole buddy a shake, as he was sleeping as soundly as a baby. We continued our drive north shortly after daybreak. We were led to believe that the political implications in Washington hampered a rapid advance to the Han River. General Ridgway was not a General Walker who possessed an aggressive approach to doing the assigned mission in a military rather than a political approach. This was only an observation at the platoon level. It was the last day of the month, and if I live another twelve days I will no longer be a teenager--but perhaps a man in This Man’s Army or perhaps a dead man. I would have to wait and see.

Day 222 - Thursday 01 February 1951

Once again the sun came around for another visit and as the visits were longer the store stayed open for business a few extra minutes a day. The 3rd Battalion was leading the main thrust of the attack, and like any other work detail, we were not itching to get involved. The ROK outfit to our right had hit a hornet’s nest. We were beginning to take some of the slack up as the enemy was showing signs of resistance. According to the map, Anyang was a few miles up the road. We dug in each night, but if we had made a one day advance to the Han River it would have saved us a lot of digging.

Day 223 - Friday 02 February 1951

I awoke to a heavy frost. The first rays of the sun revealed an array of ice crystals in the freshly dug earth of our shallow hole partially lined with rice straw. The array of ice crystals could be considered beautiful under other conditions. I just did not relish sleeping so close to them. A lot of snow was still on the hills with the valleys being free of snow except for an occasional drift or was protected from the sun. The enemy became more competitive in the real estate market. Our 3rd Battalion and the Turkish outfit found out about this today as they attacked Hill 431. We were near Anyang. We dug in for the night.

Day 224 - Saturday, February 03, 1951

As the day began to dawn over the frost-covered landscape, revealing the frozen stubble from last fall’s rice harvest, the 1st Platoon of C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment was slowly coming to life. Just before dark last night, our platoon got the order to attack Hill 431 – a horseshoe-shaped hill with the closed-end facing south. The hill, covered with patches of snow, was steep and rugged.  The enemy had fortified the hill with bunkers and connecting trenches. We had very little information from intelligence reports, line crossers or prisoners as to the disposition of the CCF 50th Army out in front of us. We had advanced about 40 miles since jumping off on the attack up Highway One on January 20. Since leaving Ch’onan, we had taken P’yongt’aek, Osan-ni, the walled city of Suwon, and now Anyang was just beyond Hill 431. We still had about twelve miles to our final objective – the Seoul-Inchon Highway and the City of Yongdung-po on the south bank of the Han River across from Seoul, the capital of South Korea. So far, our attack north had been executed against light opposition. Evidently, some of the slack was taken out of our advance, as the Turks and a company from our 3rd Battalion were unable to take and hold Hill 431. Any ground taken was vigorously contested and followed by swift enemy counter-attacks.

As I gave my foxhole buddy a shake, he awakened once again to what life was really like in the Regular Army. Reluctantly, he began to show signs of life and asked if it was his turn to go on guard. We slipped on our earthly possessions of pack, cartridge belt, grenades, canteen, entrenching tool, and first aid kit. I slung my BAR over my shoulder and we stumbled over the frozen ground through the semi-darkness to eat our breakfast alongside a paddy dike near the road. I asked a new replacement, Vernon Whorley, where he was from.  He said he was born in Kegley, West Virginia, and attended Matoaka High School. He was surprised to learn that I was from Athens, West Virginia. We were surprised that we were both the same age (19) and knew some of the same students from each school who attended the Mercer County Vocational School at Glenwood Park. He asked how long I had been in Korea. I replied that I joined the 1st Platoon in the Pusan Perimeter as its first replacement on August 7, 1950 at The Notch, a road cut in the mountain pass. I added that I was wounded by a hand grenade while taking a hill on the 27th of September. When I was discharged form Tokyo Army hospital, I rejoined the 1st Platoon in the last days of November at Kunu-ri in North Korea. He said that he and his twin brother joined the army on the 7th of August and took their basic training at Fort Knox.

As we were moving out to take Hill 431, we were informed that two carrier-based Navy Corsairs would arrive about noon to give us air support if needed. We crossed the wide valley on the rice paddy dikes that crisscrossed the frozen rice fields to the base of the finger ridge leading up to the top of Hill 431. The climb was gentle in the beginning, but became steep and tedious up the snow-covered ridge. The BAR weighed nineteen pounds and four ounces--twice that of an M1 rifle and a lot more cumbersome to carry. When we were about 400 yards from the top, we stopped to wait for the two Navy Corsairs.

Though the air was cold and crisp, we were wet with sweat. While we waited for the Corsairs, some of us ate our noon meal of C-rations to lighten our load. We enjoyed the faint warm rays of the sun when it pierced through the broken clouds. From our position, we had a beautiful view of the valley below. In the far distance one could hear the rattle of small arms, tank, and artillery fire as the ROK outfit was attacking a hill to the right of the road. I finished my C-rations with a pack of cherry Kool-Aid which I sprinkled on the snow, using my spoon to scoop it up for dessert. We had just licked our spoons and returned them to our field jacket pockets when the two Navy Corsairs arrived and circled overhead.

The arrival of the Navy Corsairs was the signal to commence our assault on Hill 431. We resumed our tedious trek up the treacherous ridge, with the two scouts well in advance of the platoon. Having served in that position when we broke out of the Pusan Perimeter, I did not envy the two scouts. All of a sudden there were two loud explosions that shook the earth under our feet, accompanied by the dull thud and whine of machine gun bullets hitting the ground and ricocheting off the rocks. At first I thought the enemy had opened up with small arms and mortar fire to check our assault when the loud deafening roar of the Corsair pulled up from his strafing run. We all looked for available cover, but there was none.  Our platoon sergeant struggled to pull the air panel from a GI's pack straps with his left hand while waving the second Corsair off with his right hand, but to no avail. The second Corsair gave us the same amount of ordnance before pulling up so low that we could feel the prop wash of the Corsair. The first pilot banked sharply and came in for another strafing run. When he saw our air panel, he rocked the Corsair back and forth, indicating he was sorry. I was glad they were not P-51 Mustangs of the Air Force loaded with napalm that strafed us. The P-51 was the most effective aircraft for close combat support. A quick check was made, and, to our surprise, no one was wounded.  It made one wonder just how effective air strikes were.

As the scouts neared the top of Hill 431, the enemy opened up with small arms fire. The platoon went into action, quickly pinning the enemy down. At closer range, they began to lob grenades (potato mashers) down the hill, but these were ducked or sidestepped as they tumbled down the hill exploding harmlessly behind us. Each time a grenade was thrown, Gerald Deeter took off his pile cap, bowed slightly, announced "grenade," and then returned his pile cap in a very casual manner. Gerald was so close to the enemy’s trench that the enemy could have handed him a grenade. A young enemy soldier jumped out of the trench with his hands up and ran in among us. I was surprised he was not shot; his timing was perfect.

Our platoon leader directed four of us (Tadashi, Hank, Vernon, and me) to move to the left inside the horseshoe and assault the enemy position from the flank. As the four of us moved around the hill, a rifle cracked inside the curve of the horseshoe. The spent round found its intended mark with a dull thud as it hit Vernon in the chest. Vernon went down without a whimper, sliding down the hill, leaving a bright trail of glistening blood in the snow. His body came to rest about 30 feet below me against a rock on a patch of ground where the snow had melted. We took what cover we could find. I shouted for the medic and swept the ridge with my BAR in the direction of the enemy sharpshooter. The medic did not hesitate to risk his own life in rushing to Vernon, our first casualty. After examining Vernon, he dashed back around the hill to safety. Minutes later an attached South Korean stood up where he thought he was safe. I shouted “abunai” (danger, look out) in Japanese as the rifle cracked.  He took a hit in the chest and died a few minutes later.  The medic and two other attached Koreas tried to save him, but he drowned in his own blood. Our objective had been achieved, but not before the sharpshooter had shot four men and narrowly missed a fifth.

The valley had filled with darkness, but Hill 431 was still receiving the last of the sun’s warm glow. A defense perimeter was being formed for the night when an order came over the radio for us to withdraw and join the company. Three of us were assigned to stay and cover the platoon’s withdrawal. The platoon, assisted by a POW, started down the hillside, dragging the four dead men. About an hour later, a shot was fired by our platoon sergeant to signal our withdrawal. We fired several rounds into the horseshoe and made our way down the slippery slope to join the platoon. At the base of the finger ridge we were met by grave registration, which had brought stretchers to transport our dead.

My assistant BAR Man went with some others into the village in search of straw and rice bags to line the inside of our foxhole. We joined the company and took our assigned positions. I started digging our foxhole and the sound of digging continued well into the night. We had cold C-rations brought to us. My foxhole buddy put his C-rations inside his clothing to thaw them with his body heat, and went to sleep. As my foxhole buddy slept I sat in our hole, taking my two-hour turn at guard--watching, listening, looking at the night sky for the Big Dipper to point me to the North Star so I could get my bearing in case we had to move, eating my C-rations, thawing each bite in my mouth a bite at a time, pondering the day’s action on Hill 431--including the air strike and the four men killed in action.  I was amazed that no one was wounded. I thought of something that I had read or heard: “No man has tasted the full flavor of life until he has known poverty, love and war.” I had no way of knowing if Vernon experienced poverty or love, but I did know that he had experienced war briefly but fully, giving his life as the supreme sacrifice.

From the south bank of the Han River in Yongdung-po, I wrote a letter to my sister, Margaret Ann Scott on February 15.  I wrote, “We have a boy in our squad who lives about three miles from Princeton on the Beckley Road. He went to school at Matoaka. We knew some of the same boys at Glenwood Park Vocational School. He was killed while taking a hill about a week ago.”

Day 225 - Sunday 04 February 1951

My foxhole buddy gave me a tug on my field jacket sleeve to awaken me. Light snow was sifting down to add texture to the rough ground that was frozen solid. After chow we went to the ammunition trailer to restock our supply of ammo. My assistant BAR Man helped me load the empty clips for my BAR – a tedious task when our fingers were cold.  The cold ammo and metal clips added to the frustration. I think the Chinks had withdrawn from Hill 431 when we attacked yesterday and we were engaged with a rear guard or a screening force. They did not counter attack and there was no mortar fire. We continued our attack along Highway One. We learned that L Company took Hill 431 early this morning without firing a shot. We did not pull back to dig in for the night. Still pondering the death of Vernon, I realized that it could have been any of the four of us; it must have been his time to go.

Day 226 - Monday 05 February 1951

As daylight began to creep into the valley, I awakened my foxhole buddy. After morning chow we continued our advance up the highway toward Seoul. The 27th Infantry and the 89th Medium Tank Battalion continued to run strong, armored patrols to the Han River and returned behind our line at night. We consolidated our positions. I took first turn at guard.

Day 227 - Tuesday 06 February 1951

I awoke to another cold, frosty morning. The rice paddy fields were covered with frost and thin patches of snow. We were still plodding up the highway, taking the high ground on the right of the road. A Company was on our left and B Company was in reserve. The days were longer now. The jets were out in force, but not local. They were striking targets further north. It cleared off during the afternoon and we dug in for the night.

Day 228 - Wednesday 07 February 1951

The morning sun came around all too soon. The air was brisk, clear, and cold. The sky was a beautiful blue, and not a cloud was to be seen. We had had very little contact with the Chinamen since our encounter with them on Hill 431. We appreciated the longer days – more day for the same amount of pay. We dug in on the low hills near the road.

Day 229 - Thursday 08 February 1951

We moved out early this morning. The Air Force was out in force, taking advantage of the better weather for flying and attacking enemy targets. Though the days were a bit better, it was extremely cold at night. The air had been very bitter and cutting the past two days.

Day 230 - Friday 09 February1951

We were always up before daylight. After morning chow our platoon was ordered to go up into a valley to see if we would draw fire from the enemy who was thought to be on the ridge.  We went about two miles up the valley, but there was no sign of the enemy. We were instructed to return and join the company in an attack on a hill, which we secured easily. Our platoon was ordered to run the ridgeline to the left and converge in the valley. B Company had taken a part of the ridge and descended into the valley to join C Company in pursuit of the enemy, who was fleeing. B Company was not certain that the ridge on their left flank was free of enemy soldiers. We traveled several hundred yards through B Company sector that had been cleared. We came upon a lone GI from B Company who was guarding about a dozen prisoners. He was standing down the hill about thirty feet below the Chinks, who were squatted down in their padded uniforms. We chatted with him for a few minutes. As we started to leave, he asked if we could spare him a few clips of ammo for his M1. Several men handed him clips. He ejected the clip, which only had three rounds in it, from his M1. He motioned to the prisoners and showed them the full clip he had put in his M1. We all had a good laugh. I noticed that he did not have his safety on, but he exhibited no apprehension about the situation. We proceeded along the ridge which led into the valley where we joined our company. We continued without incident the rest of the day. We dug in on the low hills to the right of the road.

Day 231 - Saturday 10 February 1951

When my foxhole buddy gave me a shake to awaken me, it was still dark. I thought he had spotted or heard some Chinks. I could hear tank drivers starting their Easy Eight engines. The kitchen truck had arrived and men were up and about. We went to chow at the first signs of daylight in the eastern sky. Today they said we were going to the big city on the river. On our way back to our platoon’s position, we stopped to pick up ammo, grenades, and noon C-rations from the ammo Jeep. We stopped at a village well where men were drawing water to fill their canteens. The rope being used was covered with frozen dirt and fecal material from the nearby benjo and ox stall where it had been walked on between pulling the bucket out of the well. We had no halazone tablets to put in our canteen to purify the water.

Orders came for us to move out. We hiked across the field to the road to continue our advance to the river some ten miles or so away. We went by Anyang, which had been secured. Frost covered the landscape and our breath condensed in the chill air as fine snow sifted down. Snow was still clinging to the sides of rice paddy dikes and shaded areas of the landscape. The sky was low and brooding with clouds. We left the main road, crossing the paddy dikes to the distant hills on the right. Moving up the ridgeline a short distance, we intersected an old trail that had been well-trodden over the centuries.  Fresh footprints of the retreating enemy had packed the snow down to make the trail difficult to negotiate. The morning haze and fine snow cut our visibility to less than 50 yards as the snow swirled down.

I was happy to be back in the column as a BAR Man instead of the first scout who at any time might step on the heels of the retreating enemy. The snow was deeper in places along the trail, making walking difficult and taxing. We came up on some fresh blood alongside the trail. Apparently some of the soldiers had stepped off the trail to attend to the bleeding of a wounded comrade as others continued fleeing. Further along the trail, we found more blood and yellow powder in the snow. I think the yellow powder was used to staunch the bleeding. As we crossed the summit, visibility was reduced to feet as we made our way through the wild, white, whirling snow. We still saw blood every so often, so it might have been that there were several wounded in their column. My heart went out to the wounded, having been wounded myself weeks before.  I hoped the wounded would survive. If the wounded lost much blood, they would incur a deficit that would need care.  It would be far better if they could be captured.

As we started down the mountain, the snow and haze stayed at the summit. We could see our objective – Yongdung-po and Seoul, the capital city, across the river about four miles away. It was much warmer at the lower elevation. The weather became more favorable. We halted while our platoon sergeant studied his map to plot our course into the city. We left the trail and proceeded past the village of Toksan-ni, crossed the railroad tracks, and followed Kal-chon Creek to Seoul-Inchon Highway, where we linked up with the rest of the company.

From the low hills on the outskirts of Yongdung-po, we could look into the city proper and see the enemy leaving the houses and buildings, fleeing across the river toward Seoul. Several men started firing their rifles. I moved upon the hill to the left of the skirmish line and fired a few bursts. The tracers indicated that I was firing low, so I adjusted my sights to compensate. An order came down for us to cease firing. A few minutes later Sergeant Bean, the Weapons squad leader, opened up again with his M1 rifle equipped with a sniper’s scope.  I followed with several bursts from my BAR at an enemy soldier riding a bicycle across the road bridge above the railroad tracks. I was almost positive that the enemy was out of range, but we continued firing, only to be chewed out.

We held our fire and started down the highway into the city. No tanks had caught up with us. The first and second scouts and riflemen opened and knocked down doors, checking the houses for enemy. I had my BAR at the ready, hanging from the sling over my right shoulder so I could fire from the hip to sweep the streets, nooks, and crannies. The safety was on, but switched so that I could not fire full automatic. Lieutenant Hayduk, our platoon leader, shouted, “Keep on moving.  Don’t check the shacks.”  He was trying to act like a leader. The words had no more gotten out of his mouth when three enemy soldiers ran out of a building less than 30 feet to my right. I switched the safety off, swung the BAR in their direction, and shouted, “Tow shong, tow shong.”  They had their hands up. The one nearest me kept reaching for something in his right front pocket, but he complied. I did not want to shoot – I did not want to hear the bullets ripping through his flesh, fracturing bones or hear the agonizing groan of a human being breathing his last or groans of a wounded man. Lieutenant Hayduk took to shouting, “Check those shacks.  Check those shacks,” still trying to act like a leader. He was not an infantry man and never would be.  He was a military policeman (MP). He was never on the tip of the point where the action broke out first. If he had ever served in that position, he would have known what it was like to be out there all alone.  But I did not think it would help since he was so smug.

We proceeded toward the river with more caution. I looked down over the bridge to the Kyon railroad tracks to see if I could find the enemy soldier and the bicycle that I shot at, but he was not to be found.  At that distance, he would have been most unfortunate if I had hit him. We made our way to the river without firing a shot since leaving the low hills on the outskirts of the city.  By midafternoon we were assigned positions in the bunkers and connecting trenches along the river bank that had been dug by the 3rd Battalion of our sister regiment, the 27th Infantry.  They had fought the rear guard action during our withdrawal in December or early January.

I was assigned the last position on C Company’s right flank. A heavy water-cooled machine gun manned by Sergeant Meridith L. Scarbro (Big Chew) was positioned next to the pontoon bridge. He was from Dog Company and a fellow West Virginian from Ansted. My position was to back-up and cover the machine gun in case of an attack. We were not paying much attention when a loud roar sent us for cover.  We quickly recovered our composure when we saw the four jets flying at tree top level, heading across the river to Seoul. A UN Newsreel camera crew set up and wanted some footage of me and my BAR. I got down in the trench with my back to the river beside my trusty BAR, put my left foot on the trench edge, waved my right hand, and put on a big smile for the folks back home. "No," they shouted.  "That is not what we want.  Get down in the trench and act like you are firing across the river."  I assumed the new pose and put on the act as they shot some footage.  What a fake for the people back home who would view this stuff.  I knew that I would never make it to Hollywood as an actor.

They moved down to the heavy water-cooled machine gun for some more fake footage. They left for their warm quarters. The sun was about to say goodnight when we ate our chow in the twilight among the shacks. The cold crept in. We went to our new quarters, which we had tidied up a bit. We were thankful that we did not have to dig a hole. I took first guard. We did not know if the enemy would attempt a counter attack. The river was frozen solid, so they could travel on the ice and would not need the pontoon bridge.

Day 232 - Sunday 11 February 1951

As I peered across the frozen waste, the pontoon bridge slowly began to emerge as the sun began to lighten the eastern sky. The man on guard at the heavy machine gun appeared motionless as a sphinx in the morning chill except for the condensation of his breath as he breathed. I awoke the men in the bunker for chow and spent the day working on our connecting trenches and bunkers where dirt had fallen or caved in due to the sandy nature of the ground. I talked to the crew on the heavy machine gun. They thought the island in front of us had to be about a mile across and perhaps two miles wide. The river on this side was about 150 yards across. There were some railroad bridges to our far right. We slept in the bunker with one man on guard in the trench from each squad. As night closed in, I took the first two hours of guard. Light snow sifted down on a peaceful evening.

Day 233 - Monday 12 February 1951

The snow that sifted down last night tapered off, leaving less than a half-inch on the ground. I thought the sun would break through by midmorning to wish me a happy 20th birthday. I went to early chow--the mess kitchen was set up in a narrow street about 300 yards to our left rear. The chow was good. I walked out on the ice; no sign of the ice thawing. They drove a Jeep up behind my position and fired a 105mm recoilless rifle mounted on the Jeep. They were aiming at an enemy self-propelled gun that was taking cover in a tunnel across the river in Seoul. We had been receiving some incoming mail, and while going through the chow line last evening, the Chinamen sent a round right down the chow line.  It was a bit high, so it exploded in the shacks a few shacks away. We stayed at the Platoon CP during the day, except we took turns pulling guard. At night we were all on line. We had a nice view from the trench, with no scrub bushes to create noise or confuse our view. I wrote a letter to Mom and Dad. I had not written to anyone since the 20th of January. I turned in early tonight.

Day 234 - Tuesday 13 February 1951

Another dawn-another day-another dollar. We could hear the enemy pounding and beating on the twisted metal of what used to be the airplane hangars of the Seoul City Airport. It was the enemy-or it could be civilians-looking for things to salvage or perhaps wanting us to open fire to reveal our positions. Though it was bitter cold at night, we were glad that we could go to the Platoon CP during the day to warm ourselves around the fire, clean our rifles, or sleep in one of the rooms just off of the courtyard. Our accommodations were quite good for Korean standards. Word came down that General MacArthur was in the area and we would have a Big Shoot or a Million Dollar Minute for him at night. He was worthy of such an honor-the greatest general since Lee and Jackson. Only small arms automatic weapons would fire-tanks and artillery included. I was to fire two clips of twenty rounds each. I loaded up all tracers so it would be more impressive. The 64th Field Artillery fired an illumination shell, and when it burst over the island, we were to open fire and the firing would last for two minutes.

Day 235 - Wednesday 14 February 1951

The daybreak was always a welcome sight, even though it seemed to get colder in the morning just before the sun came for another visit. All was quiet last night except for the big shoot for General MacArthur, which was a spectacular sight. I recall the firing demonstration during basic training at Fort Knox.  They called it a Million Dollar Minute.  It paled in comparison to the shoot for General MacArthur. The tracers crossing the frozen Han River formed a network of crisscross fire that indicated all machine fire was coordinated according to SOP. The bark of .50 calibers, the unique sound of the water-cooled machine guns, the chatter of light machine guns and my BAR spitting out spent brass shell casings was punctuated by artillery aerial burst.  The tank's fire was intense. I enjoyed every second of it. The firing ceased as abruptly as it had started except for an occasional burst. The long night had set in. The officers and our battalion officers observed the shoot with General MacArthur from the hills behind our positions.

We got some new replacements in the platoon. Today a British Centurion tank rumbled down the road and parked in behind us. After some discussion, they fired two rounds – one apparently a tracer.  It looked like a bucket of fire going across the river. The second round of HE (High Explosive) followed, but we did not see if it hit because it was so far away. The tank did not receive any counter fire from the self-propelled gun. The sky was clear most of the day, but by evening chow the dark clouds were moving low to the horizon with the sun breaking through to produce a beautiful silver lining. We still got our visitor at evening chow, but so far we had had no casualties. I am sure they had an FO who was nearby and called in the fire orders. The days were noticeably longer now and it had warmed up a bit. I took first turn at guard.

Day 236 - Thursday 15 February 1951

Another peaceful night, though the enemy could be heard in the hangers, and we had been hearing track-laying vehicles moving and the cold still night air made them sound closer than they were. Several men walked the ice to see what was left of Seoul City Air Field. Visits to our Platoon CP highlighted our day as we enjoyed our fire in the courtyard keeping one side warm and trading stories and jokes. The only negative part was that it had warmed up enough to thaw out a thin layer of mud several feet from the fire--but that even produced for us one positive effect. At midafternoon our platoon leader had just walked out of his room and was walking past us. He was always clean shaven, clothes neat, and all had to be so, so. He always looked down on us with contempt, as sometimes we looked a bit like Willie and Joe of WWII in his eyes. A new replacement who had entered the platoon a few days ago was enamored with the sound of incoming artillery shells and was apt at mimicking the sounds of the incoming shells. The new replacement had just left one of the rooms, and, as he approached the fire to join us, he mimicked an incoming shell. Lieutenant Hayduk, our Platoon Leader, thought it was for real.  He started down to hit the dirt, but realized it was not for real.  He tried to stop in midair, but to no avail. He plowed into the thin layer of mud for a hard landing, sliding to a stop. He got up with mud plastered on his face from head to toe. As he got up, he said, “There will be no more of that. There will be no more of that.” He did not know who had mimicked the sound of an incoming shell. We all had a good laugh and agreed that it could not have happened to a better person. We were still laughing when he hiked off to clean up. We congratulated the FO (Forward Observer) that he had estimated the correct distance for the Time on Target.

At evening chow the visitor paid another visit with two of his friends, but the shells were walked at intervals-- still low, but not low enough, exploding beyond us. We always looked for cover, but it was all over before we could move. Like my brother Warren said, “There is nothing you can do but take cover when being shelled.” I wrote a letter to Sis this afternoon to let her know that I got her two packages, which I shared with men in the platoon. I turned in to the bunker before dark.

Day 237 - Friday 16 February 1951

The dawn revealed more snow during the night and the temperature dropped during the night as well. Last night while I was on guard, I was awakened--or had a mirage, that I was eating, my hand going through the motion to my mouth, and my jaws were working as though I was chewing. I could not believe that I was not eating.  It was a rude awakening. While at the Platoon CP, some of the men who were on lookout on the river said they got some incoming mail that fell out in front of them. At evening chow we got two rounds of incoming mail.  The first shell fell short of the mark and the other landed in some nearby shacks and exploded, but no one was injured. One of our planes dropped 20 flares last night at intervals.  Quite a few were burning at the same time, lighting up the landscape to the point that I hunkered down in the trench so that only my head was exposed. They must have been taking pictures of enemy troop movements in and around Seoul. A brewery was found and the vats were put off limits to our regiment. I took first turn at guard.

Day 238 - Saturday 17 February 1951

The sun arose on a frozen landscape. A slow night for us, but the enemy was busy moving some track-laying vehicles on or off the islands. Another plane dropped at least 20 flares in a sequence, lighting up the night so that I could read the writing on an empty C-ration can. From time to time I could hear voices on the island. They might have been directing the movement of equipment or trying to have us open fire. I wanted a drink of water, but my canteen was empty. I went up the trench to Pete, one of our attached Koreans. I asked him for a drink of water--mizu (Japanese) or mul (Korean). Pete searched around in the dark and handed me his canteen. I took the cap off and put the canteen to my mouth.  As the foam hit my mouth, I could smell the beer and declined to drink. Though the brewery was put off limits to the 35th Infantry, several had made trips to get beer in any available container that could be found. Units that were even far away sent trucks to get beer.  One incident reported was that a Turk had two five-gallon cans of beer. He had set them down to tie his shoe and when he started to pick up his cans, some GI had already walked off with them.  This created quite a stir with the Turk.

The night was silent, but I could detect a sound that sounded like a truck tire running on a hard road.  It became louder and louder as it pierced the silence. As it got closer, I realized it was an incoming shell that hit several hundred yards in front of me. Another shell was on its way, and I could tell from its sound that it would be closer as it hit the ice near the far side of the river. Kim had another round on its way and I could tell early on that it was going to be close and I was in line with the other two shells. I jumped up and started down the trench to get in the bunker. The shell was screaming in and I knew I could not make it into the bunker before it hit, so I fell in the trench as the shell hit and exploded, shaking the ground.  I thought I was hit as mud, ice, and one of the lines on the power pole looped around in the hole, entangling me. As I was getting up I could hear another shell was coming in.  As I started to run to the bunker, I could tell that the shell was high.  I walked back to my position as the shell screamed overhead, hitting near the CP. I waited for another round, but that was Kim’s allotment for the night. After daylight I examined where the shell had hit. The shell had hit at water’s edge about 15 feet below my position. The shell mired up in the mud before it exploded. Had it been higher, it would have landed where I had been sitting. We were to leave tomorrow to be in reserve for a few days. I turned in early to get a little extra sleep before my turn at guard.

Day 239 - Sunday 18 February 1951

Awoke to a cold, frosty morning, but the sun was making some headway in dispensing the clouds as we went to chow. At chow we discussed the voices and the track-laying vehicles we heard across the river. Their voices and the creaking and clanging were so clear and crisp in the cold night air we speculated they were moving reinforcements to bolster the defense of the city. We would be leaving our positions tomorrow to go in reserve for a few days.

I went to the Platoon CP to clean my BAR, which had not been fired since the big shoot for General MacArthur. I started taking the BAR apart, but the operating rod would only move slightly. I discovered that a piece of shrapnel had put a large dent in the tube so the operating rod could not slide back. I gave the BAR to the first sergeant who wanted me to take his M1, but I told him I could do without a weapon until ordnance got my BAR repaired. They could not find an M1 for me, so I felt a little insecure. I turned in early as this was our last night on the riverbank. The enemy’s artillery fire was not in vain.  They knocked out my BAR--the only damage we received from all of their shelling.

Day 240 - Monday 19 February 1951

The sun made its first appearance for the new day through the broken clouds as we made our way to chow. After we ate our noon chow, we would be leaving for an unknown destination to be in division reserve. We enjoyed our last visit to the courtyard, where we spent our time around the fire speculating as to our next assignment. We went to the trenches and bunkers to tidy up the place for the outfit taking our place on line. We hated to leave, but gathered up our remaining earthly belongings and assembled in the area where we ate chow. The first sergeant came by and offered me his M1, but I declined the offer. We walked through the streets to Highway One. We hiked about an hour before we took a break. We learned during our break that we were going to Anyang, a rather large village just off of the highway. We resumed our march, a column on each side of the road. I felt naked without my BAR--a bit like a Texas Ranger who did not have a model 94 Winchester at his side. We arrived in Anyang, which was about seven or eight miles from Seoul, by midafternoon, retracing our footsteps of a few weeks ago. The houses with their thatched roofs all covered with snow tucked in the gentle rolling hills were picture perfect. Only one guard was to be posted from each squad at night. We were assigned houses – two squads to a house.

Day 241 - Tuesday 20 February 1951

The sun burst through the scattered clouds to highlight a beautiful landscape draped with about three inches of new snow that fell during the night. Nothing had disturbed the snow on the roof tops, trees, shrubs, the rice straw fences, and the footpaths that connected the houses nestled under the white mantle. We hated to molest the picture perfect landscape as we set off to the Company CP for morning chow. Our new quarters were real good by Korean standards, but nothing could compare with the beautiful setting – everything was so tranquil. It was nice to be off the line to rest and relax. We were glad to get more sleep, since we pulled guard once every three nights for four hours.

Day 242 - Wednesday 21 February 1951

The sun penetrated the broken low clouds on the horizon as we waded through the new snow to chow. The house we were in was very good. As I lay on my back on the polished dirt floor and stared at the ceiling and walls that had been wallpapered with old newspaper and magazines, I could have entertained myself if I could have read Korean. The house had no utilities and came with no furniture, but there was a good supply of lice. We ran out of DDT, but we never ran out of lice. We were taken to the shower point for a shower and clean clothes. This was the first shower that I had had since leaving the USS Mitchell in Inchon harbor on November 23 about three months ago. The days were much longer now and a bit warmer, but the outdoor showers with their canvas flaps did little to stop the wind from whipping through. I took time to write a letter home. I did not have guard tonight, so I got a full night’s sleep – the first in many weeks.

Day 243 - Thursday 22 February 1951

The sun was able to melt some snow off the ground since it was staying around longer, but not much grass was showing through. We enjoyed the warm air during the day. We relaxed, cleaned our equipment, and listened to the latest from the rumor mill. We had no idea as to how the war was going and we were not itching to go back on line, though life was rather uninteresting off the line. I had my turn at guard every three days.  On line it was two hours on and two hours off. I had no ill effect from the shots we took yesterday. We stripped down to the waist and waited our turn to enter a shack to get some shots – one in each arm. When I got my shots in January, I was walking away pulling my clothes up when I heard a shout to stop.  The medic wanted to get his needle out of my arm.  It had separated from the syringe and stayed in my arm. Thankfully, this did not happen this time.

Day 244 - Friday 23 February 1951

The sun was out bright and beautiful, having taken a rest from melting off a few patches of snow where it was thin due to the wind and drifting. A rather reliable rumor was that we would be leaving shortly to make a river crossing. My BAR was returned to me from ordnance, so maybe that confirmed the rumor. I felt a lot better having my BAR back. No guard duty tonight, so I got a full night’s sleep.

Day 245 - Saturday 24 February 1951

We were walking guard as the sun tried to break through the swirls of wet heavy snow coming down to blanket the landscape. Sometimes we only stood guard outside of the house for four hours or walked in pairs for four hours around a portion of the perimeter. An airplane entered our area last night. The plane did not sound like an American plane as it circled around several times before releasing a bomb load. The two bombs exploded one after the other, shaking the earth near regimental headquarters. I think the pilot circled around to get his direction from someone on the ground either by radio or light or both. The snow stopped at midmorning and the sun soon had the beautiful blue sky all to itself. Since we were on guard, we were questioned about the enemy plane that dropped the bombs. The plane missed its mark with the two bombs. It was still rumored that we would be leaving any day now.

Day 246 - Sunday 25 February 1951

The sun came up across the distant horizon without any opposition from the clouds which fled during the night. The air was crisp and cold. The chaplain was in our area for services today. Three of us from our squad attended the service in a house near the CP. No more news about the two bombs that fell. I enjoyed walking around the village. The large kimchi jars and crocks fascinated me. The kimchi jars were very large.  Some must have been about the size of a 50-gallon drum. I had always wanted to use one of the kimchi pots as a target. The day closed with a gray overcast sky. We were informed in an informal way that we would be making a river crossing, but we did not know where, when, or who would be leading the attack.

Day 247 - Monday 26 February 1951

The sun revealed a dull, gray morning. I awoke last night and my stomach was all bloated up like a pregnant woman ready to give birth to twins. I had no pain.  The floor was still quite warm. I pulled my boots on and crawled through the small door to the courtyard. I told the guard that I was going to the benjo and not to shoot me. It was freezing cold. I dropped my pants and all that I passed was a lot of gas. I had to go two other times during the night, but did not pass as much gas – no diarrhea or bowel movement, just a lot of gas. I went to morning chow. We began to pack up and we loaded onto trucks late in the day. We arrived at a road junction several miles south of Anyang, where we unloaded and hiked to a remote village. We were assigned shacks that were much more crude than what we had in Anyang. No ill effects from the gas attack last night. We were to make a river crossing, but still did not know where or when. I was posted for guard.

Day 248 - Tuesday 27 February 1951

The sun had to scale the mountain before it could peek into the narrow valley where we were crammed into a village near Kum-yang-jang-ni, a town that was not as large as its name. General Kean left as commanding officer of our division. I could still see him just before I was wounded exactly five months ago. Our new Division Commander was General J. Sladen Bradley, who was the ADC of the division. I think he was the ADC of the 2nd Division. I met him on the path back in the last days of December. I was grateful to him for the warm winter clothing that he had sent to me. I would have liked to have seen Paul Taylor, who could have given me some information as to what to expect in the next week or so. Only one more day in this month.

Day 249 - Wednesday 28 February 1951

This sun was a welcome visitor each day to chase the frost away. We had experienced some strong wind, but knew that spring was just around the corner. Ice on some of the smaller streams was beginning to thaw and brooks trickled with freshly melted snow water. We were keeping a low profile--not moving, just marking time. The days were noticeably longer, but the mornings were still frosty.

Day 250 - Thursday 01 March 1951

The sun was slowly but surely winning the battle with each passing day.  The snow was retreating, but winter occasionally fought a rear guard action. Still no word as to our role or mission.  All we knew was that we would be making a river crossing. For all we knew, it could be the Yalu. The day passed slowly when in a static position. We were hidden from the watchful eye of the enemy. Were we to believe that?

Day 251 - Friday 02 March 1951

Another rear guard action as winter hastened its retreat from the sun with each passing day. While there was considerable snow on the north face of the mountains, the valleys were free of snow.  If it snowed during the night, it melted off by ten in the morning. The nights were cold and frosty. We enjoyed milling around during the day. The chow was good, but we were getting tired of corned beef hash.

Day 252 - Saturday 03 March 1951

The sun sealed the mountain, but its rays were slow to penetrate the fog that had settled into the valley. Sergeant Pretzer was summoned to the Company CP for a briefing. He returned to the platoon and gave us the facts of the rumors that had been floating around. He told us that we would be crossing the Han River at the confluence of the Pukhan and the Han Rivers. We would be taking the high ground to the right of the Pukhan River. The 27th and 24th Infantry Regiments were to take the high ground to the left of the Pukhan and drive west to enter Seoul from the rear. More detailed information would be coming down from military planners. We were eager to get it over with.

Day 253 - Sunday 04 March 1951

Once the sun cleared the fog away, it warmed up quickly. The Chaplain came to our area for services. Not many attended. On our way to chow I noticed several small flowers along the footpath.  They were ready to bloom, as were the wild onions that dotted the banks and the fields. Someone mentioned that the ice on the river had thawed, but until the floating ice had dissipated we would not make the crossing as the ice would present a hazard. I did not think that would stop the Army.

Day 254 - Monday 05 March 1951

The sun had a hard time breaking through, but it prevailed and winter made a counter attack. We had to wait until later in the day to see which was victorious. I definitely was on the side of the sun. Sergeant Pretzer, our Platoon Sergeant, returned from a briefing to give us the latest. The 3rd Battalion was to lead the attack across the river. Once established, the 2nd Battalion was to cross.  The 1st Battalion was to be the last to cross the river, and all units would be on line by nightfall. C Company was in battalion reserve. They saved the best until last. I loved bringing up the rear. We carried a two-day supply of ammunition in case we were unable to be supplied.

Day 255 - Tuesday 06 March 1951

The sun came around all too early, but later than orders from headquarters that had us up well before daybreak. We ate our morning chow and made preparations to move out in the afternoon. If all went well and as planned, we would be north of the Han River sometime tomorrow. The 3rd Battalion had been in training for some time in the use of boats to make the crossing. Once they were on the north shore, they would know what to do from prior on the job training. We were taken from Kum-yang-jang-ni to Sudon-gi by truck, arriving just before dark. They wanted to keep us concealed as much as possible so as not to tip the enemy off of the impending attack. We drew an extra day’s supply of ammunition and C-rations. We ate our evening chow in the dark. There was to be no talking after we left the area.

We started along a footpath, following a guide who was to lead us to our destination. The footpath intersected a trail at the base of the mountain. The trail soon became steep as we started up the mountain. The climb was slow, steady, slippery in places, and very demanding, being burdened with the extra load of ammunition and C-rations. We took a break near the summit to give our lungs a rest in the cold dark air. We were perspiring heavily and our damp clothing made it uncomfortable.

We could hear distant artillery – friend or foe we did not know. The descent was almost as taxing as the ascent, especially on the toes trying to push through the toes of our boots. The little rivulets of water from the melting snow trickled down the mountainside to join the Han River below. We could hear the intermittent salvos of the artillery pieces in the valley sending ordnance into positions across the river. Further down the mountain, in between salvos, we could hear the sound of the river as it rushed on its westward course downstream to Seoul some 30 miles away and on to the Yellow Sea. The night was dark and the natural stillness was remarkable – just the soft bumping of bandoleers, squeaking rifle slings in harmony and rhythm with each step.  An occasional stumble in the dark broke the rhythm. The trail ended in the valley at a small road where several Long Toms were lighting up the night skies as they fired on the enemy positions across the river. We followed the road several hundred yards into a short valley to a small hamlet where we spent the night in some Korean houses. The intensity of the outgoing mail did not hinder us from going to sleep.

Day 256 - Wednesday 07 March 1951

We were sound asleep when we were awakened. Another one of those short nights, morning had arrived all too quickly. We gathered up our belongings and crawled through the small door into the dark, cold, morning stillness, except for the outgoing mail in the distance. A light skiff of snow enhanced the hard frost that covered everything. We could hear tank drivers starting the Easy Eights.

We ate our hot chow in the dark, but the sun was making its way up the other side of the mountain. We assembled and hiked down the narrow dirt road to wait our turn to cross the river. As we passed the Long Toms, their barrels appeared long enough to reach the other side of the river. No one talked and I was tempted to shout at the gun crew to, “Let the barrel down and we will walk across the river.” Tanks were firing, the 4.2 mortars of the heavy weapons company were coughing, and some .50 caliber of the Triple A were adding their two cents. I did not see how anything could survive on the other side, but I had entertained that thought before, only to find out that it was only on the surface. If we were dug in deep enough, Mother Earth provided good protection.

Everything was going according to plan--"hurry up and wait." We could still be sleeping. Each time a Long Tom fired, a massive flame leaped from the barrel, lighting up the area briefly. We made our way along the narrow road beyond the artillery. The fire lifted to signal for the lead elements of the 3rd Battalion to strut their stuff. As we passed below the tanks that were on a rise above and a distance from the river, the fire was deafening as they coordinated their efforts with the lead element that was getting a foot hold on the north bank of the river. The 3rd Battalion executed the crossing without much difficulty and advanced inland several hundred yards before the slack was taken up.

The enemy lobbed a few mortar shells as we started to cross – some fell in the water near us and some on the river bank behind us, but no injuries. I unbuckled my ammo belt in case the boat capsized. I did not want to go to the bottom of the Han like a lead sinker or to serve as an anchor.  We reached the other side of the river with very little drift from the current, which was quite swift, and a few more mortar rounds that were wide of the mark. The boat ran aground, so we had to jump out and wade to shore in the icy water up to our knees.

We kept moving behind our sister battalions, crossing the tracks of the Kyon railroad and over Highway Two toward the hills behind Yang-su-ri, which had fallen to the lead elements earlier. The sun broke through to melt the dusting of snow. We stretched out while waiting to move up, enjoying the warmth of the sun. We watched the exploding shells as they burst into an orange flame and a black cloud of smoke drifting away in advance of the lead elements attacking the hill. The ban on talking was lifted once we got in the boats to make the crossing. Some tanks of the 89th were able to ford the river to a sandbar that was covered in about three feet of water, and from there to the north bank to join the attack. One tank flooded out in the water and had to be retrieved. I noticed what I thought was a handle off of an exploded potato masher hand grenade. I told Hank that it was the handle of the hand grenade that wounded me last September. Hank picked it up, it started to smoke, and he instantly threw it away. Shortly after hitting the earth, it exploded. It was not a potato masher but a concussion grenade used by enemy patrols to take prisoners.

We started to move up and passed a couple of tanks that had made it across. They were supposed to wait for the bridge to be constructed before crossing. We ate our C-rations. By late afternoon all objectives had been taken and we started digging in for the night, expecting a counter attack. I had a beautiful view down the steep mountainside to the river below and to the mountains beyond the river that we had crossed last night. The sun dropped behind the distant hills and the air became frigid. We dug our holes, but we had no rice straw or rice bags to line our holes. The freshly dug dirt was damp. Deeter took first turn at guard.

Day 257 - Thursday 08 March 1951

Deeter, my foxhole buddy, gave me a shake to awaken me. The sun had dispensed enough of the darkness so that I could see the network of ice crystals that had formed an intricate design from the condensation of my breath and the damp earth where I lay. We went to chow. I was slow to mention that while I was on guard I studied the beam of light that was being bounced off the clouds by the aircraft search light from across the river to our rear. The idea was well intended, but it did not help as far as illuminating the area in front of us. All was quiet and normal along our front.

In the night sky I saw an object moving from right to left at high velocity.  It was like a tracer bullet, but it was neither red nor green. There was no aircraft in the air. When the object entered the shaft of light created by the searchlight, the object slowed instantly as it passed through the shaft of light, then sped away at the same speed as before entering the shaft of light. I was fully awake. No comments were made. I did not repeat myself as I thought they might think I was crazy.

We drew our C-rations for the day before moving out on the attack to take the high ground to our right front above the railroad tunnel. We encountered no enemy and had to wait for the platoons on our left to catch up from time to time. By midafternoon the slack had been taken out in the sector where the 2nd Platoon was attacking to our left. The crackle of rifle and machine gun fire from the enemy stalled the platoon’s forward movement. The enemy was well-concealed and determined. The 3rd Platoon was committed to the left of the 2nd Platoon.

We were ordered to take the ridgeline to the right of the 2nd Platoon. We advanced up a spur ridge against light resistance. As we neared the top, there were two loud explosions close together. We all hit the dirt, but quickly realized that it was a tank down in the valley to our rear that had fired on the ridge. The trajectory being so flat accounted for what we thought were two explosions. We bounced up to continue the attack. The tank fire was uncalled for – this was the first time we had ever had tank fire in support so close – too close for comfort. We began to lay down fire as we approached the top of the ridge and overran the enemy positions. Word came for us to build up a base of fire to prevent a counter attack. Colonel Kelleher was on the radio to our platoon radio man and heard our platoon leader shout, “Fix bayonets and charge” before handing the radio to our platoon leader, Lieutenant Hayduk. This caused a lot of excitement in the rear area. I fired the BAR, sweeping the sparsely-covered hillside with scrub bushes and trees. The left leg on my bipod came loose and was hanging down. When I fired, the recoil caused it to swing back and forth like a pendulum. There was a twang as the foot rest disappeared into the brush in front of me. A bullet had caught it on its upward swing.

The enemy had a fresh supply of clothing and equipment. Hank found a Mauser pistol in one of the enemies’ positions. Carlos Teed, a member of our platoon, had talked a lot about being forced into the Army or go to prison due to some locals in Silver City who were trying to make some of his people pay protection on their automobile dealership. Most of us thought he was not that type and that he was shooting us a lot of hot air, but when he stripped the Mauser pistol down and told Hank how to modify a 30/06 clip to load the pistol on the run down an alley at night, he dispelled our thoughts and doubts about his handing us a line.

We dug in for the night. We expected a counter attack by the enemy to recover their spring issue of clothing and equipment. I took first turn at guard. We ate our C-rations in the dark.

Day 258 - Friday 09 March 1951

The sun only made a feeble attempt to break through clouds that were hanging low around it. After chow our platoon was sent on a patrol to check an area on our right flank. By midmorning the sun had overcome the clouds, scattering them hither and yon. It was a beautiful spring day as we made it up one hill and down another and along ridgelines. At times we lost radio contact with the company.

We watched an old man in the valley leave his shack and walk along a path. He stopped and studied the area carefully. He stepped off the path and again paused, not knowing he was being watched. He stooped down and uncovered the cache where he had concealed a large kimchi jar. After eating, he carefully put the lid on the jar and camouflaged his cache. He walked slowly back down the path.

We moved along the ridge. We stopped to observe some possible enemy movement in a tiny hamlet several hundred yards away. Lieutenant Hayduk was not an infantry leader, but he was the best at calling in artillery fire. He radioed the CO, but the reception was very poor. He contacted another unit that was able to contact the 64th Field Artillery. He gave them the information and called for one round of WP. He called for another round of WP and the adjustment put it on the target. He called for them to fire for effect. A barrage followed on target.

We moved down the ridge to the valley. I noticed a piece of a pottery shard used as a plate and two chopsticks that had been fashioned out of a weed. An enemy soldier must have stopped to eat his rations. At the river we turned left to return to our company. In order to prevent a possible ambush, we never returned or retraced our steps on a patrol. We ate our evening chow and dug in our assigned sector of the line.

Day 259 - Saturday 10 March 1951

The sun was up early doing battle with scattered clouds. We moved out on the attack against light resistance. Since the first two days after crossing, the enemy had only offered scattered opposition. It was an uneventful day – more climbing and sweating as we took our objectives. Just before dark we took our final objective. Instead of digging in on the crest, we were assigned positions about halfway up the hill.  We were not happy about that as it went against our best judgment. As we spread out around the hill to dig a defense line, we found a parachute and a dead US Air Force pilot still in his harness. He had been dead for quite some time. He most likely froze to death after being injured and landing in the wooded area. Grave registration was contacted to transport his body out. They arrived shortly before dark. We ate our C-rations and settled in for the night.

Day 260 - Sunday 11 March 1951

It was cold this morning with a heavy frost and broken clouds. We were going into division reserve. A regiment from the 24th Infantry Division was advancing on our right and would cut us off. We hiked down the ridge to the road in the valley. A lot of troops were along the road. We felt like we were on parade passing in review. At the river we took our turn at crossing the Han in boats to the point where we jumped off on the attack on Tuesday, March 6th. It was midafternoon before we got on the other side. We were back to the village where we spent the night before making the river crossing. This was the first time we had seen it in daylight. It was quite a nice place.   We were assigned a house with an outside courtyard. We sorted out a few things before going to hot chow. I did not have to pull guard. The sound of artillery could be heard in the far distance.

Day 261 - Monday 12 March 1951

The day dawned bright and light frost covered some of the sheds. We made our way to chow. We were all glad to be able to sleep through the night. Two hours on guard and two hours off guard--and sometimes both, having to stay awake, took its toll on one’s physical energy.

Paul Taylor came up from Battalion Headquarters to see me. We had not seen each other for a long time, and since the Battalion CP was near at hand, he was able to locate me. He told me I was a Corporal and I told him that I was only a PFC. He told me that he had read an order where I was recommended for a Silver Star. We talked about our being stationed at Fort Hood. He was in D Company, but we met when our battalion had division stockade duty.  Being that we were West Virginians, we sought to hang out with other West Virginians. Of course, Hall was from Virginia, so he was an exception. We sat around a fire in the courtyard and cleaned our rifles and gear. Three hot meals a day, but lousy pay. I had to pull one four-hour shift of guard.

Day 262 - Tuesday 13 March 1951

The weather was hit or miss, with a little covering of snow at daybreak. We got our fire started in the courtyard. Taylor came back with a piece of tablet paper, where he copied the information – October 1st, 1950 Special Order, 168 promoted to Corporal – Charles C Scott, RA13328908, C Company, MOS 4745. I was glad that it was official. We had a good laugh in the platoon about how I had been treated like a PFC, and hoped that since I made Corporal I would not avenge them and they would hold me in veneration. Paul did not stay long as he was a Jeep driver for a Major at Battalion Headquarters. I wanted to contact Bill Scott, my cousin who is with the 58th Engineers.  He might have constructed the bridge across the Han after we established a bridgehead. An inspection tomorrow – for which reason I did not know. I needed to write some letters home and to Joe Mitchell, who served with Warren in the 36th Division in WWII. The hot chow was appreciated. Things were quiet here. All of the units were moving up, so we did not hear the outgoing mail of our artillery. I did not have to pull guard.

Day 263 - Wednesday 14 March 1951

Light frost this morning. The field jacket felt good.  We got our fire started in the courtyard. Though I was a Corporal, it did not change our status much in the platoon. We all worked as a team, “All for one, one for all.” On line no one tried to tell us how to do our job. Each situation was different, and we had to respond to the best of our judgment. We were taken to the shower point.  We stripped off and headed for the nearest shower head. It was all in the open except for some canvas panels put around and some to divide into sections with about six shower heads to a section. The wind whistled in through the openings in the side and over the top. Even trying to stay under the hot water to keep warm provided no protection. Out of the shower and drying off was a freezing experience. Clean clothing – the first in quite a while.

Back in the company area we went to a field and laid out our gear. A Major from Battalion Headquarters was to inspect us. When we heard his Jeep coming, we all got our weapons. We had leaned our weapons up against the wall of a shack with a ‘benjo’ on one end. Longley could not find his M1 rifle. Everyone checked to see if they had their own rife. He checked each rifle, but could not find his, so he stood the inspection without one. The inspection went rather quickly, as it was just a formality. The Major asked Longley about not having a rifle and he explained it to the Major. He walked in front of me, but did not stop. When he walked through the rank behind me, he asked me why I did not have a bi-pod for my BAR. I replied, “I shot it off while taking a hill on the other side of the river, Sir.” He said, “You shot it off?” I said, “Yes, Sir.  The left leg came down as I was firing.  It swung up from the recoil, I heard a ping, and I heard it sail over the hill in the bushes.” He said, “Good shooting,” and walked on.

After the inspection we all looked for Longley’s rifle. At last he found it. About two inches of the barrel were sticking out of the rich soil in the ‘benjo’ where they had leaned their rifles.  His rifle was knocked over and fell into the reservoir of human waste. He pulled it out by the front sight. What a mess. We boiled water and poured over it. He spent the afternoon cleaning the rifle.  The sling was the hardest part to clean because of its stench. When he pulled the operating rod back, a lot of waste rolled out. I think I would have considered it a loss and paid for it – only $32.50. I wrote a letter to Jack, Dad, and Warren. It had been a long, busy day.

Day 264 - Thursday 15 March 1951

We were enjoying our stay in the few houses where we were quartered. Before the river crossing we stayed in the houses--but only for a few hours, as we arrived in the dark and left before sunrise to make the river crossing. The weather was warming up more like spring, but when we jumped out of the boats and waded in the icy cold water up to our knees filling our combat boots, it felt like we were in the Arctic Ocean. We had a large courtyard where we built a fire with rice straw and scraps of wood. The two or three Korean boys, who were about five years of age, visited our courtyard each day. They were looking for food and we were looking for wood for our fire. They went in search for wood and we reciprocated with food from our meals.

I wrote a letter to Dad. In a letter to me, he related that he had been off from work due to pneumonia and was now back at work at the Post Office. Bill Scott, my cousin, may have had a part in construction of the bridge across the Han River to supply us with ammo and food. He was with the 58th Engineers Bridge Company. General Mac said that he had a surprise for the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions. I sure wanted to know what it was. Most likely we would be going back on line as we were in division reserve.

Day 265 - Friday 16 March 1951

The sun remained a most welcome visitor, not only reducing the threat of an enemy attack, but bringing much warmer weather. Rumors were floating around that rotation was to start soon. I wrote a letter to Sis and got a letter from a minister back home, which I knew that I should answer. The minister might have been the one that visited my mother when I was wounded on the 27th of September last year. We spent most of the day cleaning our rifles and equipment. We had a few new replacements who higher echelon thought we should train for their role in combat. This was a hard task, as the preparation could be precise--such as artillery, mortar, and small arms support fire, but the disposition of the enemy could present a very fluid situation when it was only us and them trying to subdue each other at the assault squad level. I had yet to find someone who would show me how or take my place assaulting a hill. But we did whatever made higher echelon happy.

Day 266 - Saturday 17 March 1951

The sun continued to come up, bringing spring-like weather. One found it amazing how much we liked the sun to come up and chase the chill of morning and our cares away for the moment. I noticed a few flowers peeping through the ground in protected areas. We learned from Vaughn that he turned 18 the day we crossed the Han River. He did not want any hoopla or celebration, so he kept it a secret.

The routine did not change here – no beds to make, no boots to shine, no KP, but we cleaned our equipment and worked with the new replacements. No rumors about going back on line.

Day 267 - Sunday 18 March 1951

Awoke to a beautiful day. We enjoyed being off line, more hot meals, less C-rations, a bit more sleep as we pulled less guard. No chapel service. We practiced a simulated attack on the hill for the new replacements. It was a dry run, but later it would be with live ammunition. Training classes for all in map reading were more or less a refresher course.

Day 268 - Monday 19 March 1951

We had light rain and fog this morning. Robert Scott of the 2nd Platoon walked to the chow line with his canteen cup, singing lines of a song that aptly described the weather – “There is no sun up in the sky.  Stormy weather.”  He had several variations, as well as, “Good night Irene, I will see you in my dreams.” As a matter of fact, he had a good voice. He was stationed with C Company in Otsu, Japan and came to Korea with the Division. I had only been in the 1st Platoon about a week when he paid me a visit to see if we were possibly kin to each other. For the most part, Robert was a happy go lucky soldier. We continued our training and instruction of new replacements. Rear echelon wanted us to keep in shape by walking up and down mountains. This was a proposal no doubt instigated by a rear echelon think tank. Though we were involved a lot, we still had a lot of time to relax. It was nice not to have much guard duty.

Day 269 - Tuesday 20 March 1951

The sun dispatched the remaining brooding clouds for a nice day. The mornings were still frosty, so the sun still had work to do. Since we slept inside our Korean house, we did not suffer from the frost or dew. We continued training our new replacements. A rifle squad was supposed to consist of nine men, according to Table of Organization (TO): a Squad Leader, Assistant Squad Leader, five Riflemen, a BAR Man, and an Assistant BAR Man. At times it was possible to have ten to twelve men or perhaps more. In combat, about six to eight men seem to be an ideal number, because with a larger number of men it seemed that we had greater casualties. In a Roman Legion, if my mind serves me right, a squad consisted of eight men; a company consisted of eighty men; and a battalion consisted of six companies of 480 men. We were to keep in shape walking up and down mountains.

Day 270 – Wednesday 21 March 1951

The rumor must have been true just a day early. The sun came up searching for an opening in the clouds to take the frost away with the chilly air. We boarded trucks to take us partway to our destination. We recognized some of the landscape as we had been on this road before. One thing we remembered was the road tunnel. The tunnel was not long, but long enough that though we took a deep breath, we could not hold our breath long enough to get through the tunnel.  Let me explain.

A large number of the enemy took refuge in the tunnel with some trucks and their equipment. The Air Force detected them and bombed, strafed, and napalmed both ends of the tunnel. I do not know who or when or how the tunnel was cleared. The first time through the tunnel we were not aware of what was in it until we got almost to the tunnel.  At that point we got a whiff of the stench.  Once inside the tunnel, the stench was strong because there was rotten flesh from explosion and napalm on the rock formation on the walls and ceiling of the tunnel. One could see bits of scorched flesh clinging to the rough rock formation. Our lungs were in need of air, but the smell of rotten, decaying flesh was repulsed as we tried to breathe. There is nothing quite like the stench of rotten human flesh.

We relieved a company and took our positions not exactly like theirs, which required some digging for crew-serviced weapons. Our officers did not want to be relieved of their commands, because they had taken inadequate defense measures. The sun finished his day and slid down out of sight. The night air was cool. I took first turn at guard.

Day 271 – Thursday 22 March 1951

Rather cloudy this morning with the sun fighting to get through the clouds to us. This was the day we were to go on line, but we came back on line yesterday. We wished that we could have stayed a little longer in our courtyard around the fire, but the days were getting rather monotonous. I hoped we did not lose any of our new replacements before or after any engagement with the enemy. Many new replacements contracted illnesses such as colds or pneumonia before we got to know their names or where they were from. I often wished that I could be fortunate enough to contract pneumonia or some illness that would take me off the line just for a day or two, but it never happened to us dogfaces who must have had excellent immune systems. We moved up with a degree of caution, digging in for the night. It was back to the grimy, gritty, and grubby life in a rifle platoon. I was too tired to complain.

Day 272 – Friday 23 March 1951

The sun showed up for work earlier each day. We were issued steel helmets today. Much fuss was made about the chin straps. The Regimental Commander ordered that the chin strap had to be fastened under our chins. We wore the helmets with the chin strap secured in the rear of the helmet, not like the Marine Corps, which wore the chin straps under the chin. In airborne school we wore the chin strap, which was somewhat of a special strap, under the chin. I was sure that if the helmet came off of someone jumping or dangling from the shroud lines, it would be dangerous to anyone below or who had landed on the ground. If I had had the chin strap fastened under my chin when I was wounded, the explosive force of the grenade would have torqued the helmet so as to break my neck. About three hours later the Regimental Commander rescinded the order. We liked the pile caps better than the helmets. Helmets give us some protection from falling rock, debris, and a false sense of security. Another day in The Land of the Morning Calm where we ate cold C-rations, hiked, and dug in. I took first turn at guard.

Day 273 – Saturday 24 March 1951

The sun made a quick appearance, then disappeared for the day among the clouds. We were advancing along the road, taking and securing the hills to the right of the road while Able Company was doing the same thing on the left side of the road. Baker Company was in battalion reserve. The hills were low, but in the distance to the left and right of the road the hills were much higher. We had two Easy Eights on the hill with us. Some broom sage was burning rather slowly in places. We tried to get the chill out of our bones by getting close and following the fire as it burned.

A Company hit a hornets’ nest. They had mortar and artillery as well as tank fire on the hill prior to attacking. They assaulted the hill but were unable to take the hill. They got an airstrike of P-51s that strafed and bombed the hill. We watched the show. We noticed that the enemy ran out of their positions to the backside of the hill. When the airstrike lifted they dashed back across the hill to their positions. The airstrike did little damage.

Warfield, from our fourth squad (machine gun squad), observed some enemy with his binoculars.  They were watching the action from a hill across the valley. He told the tank commander. He pointed them out to me, but I could not see them. The tanker rotated his 76mm gun in the direction of the enemy and fired a round which hit low. I could see the six or seven enemies stand up to see where the round hit. He reloaded, made an adjustment, and fired another round, which hit the top of the hill. The explosion sent the enemy scrambling to get off the hill away from the tank fire. A Company was finally able to knock out the enemy on the hill. We proceeded up the road. As day retreated, the dark, brooding night took over the day’s position. We ate our chow in the darkness and dug in for the night. Deeter took first turn at guard.

Day 274 – Sunday 25 March 1951

We were still attracted to the break of day--not as much as in the Pusan Perimeter when our backs were to the wall, but still a welcome sight when the sun appeared to take away the morning dew and chill. We were dusted with DDT. I thought I was a six-foot tomato plant attached to a stake.  I stripped off and was dusted from head to toe, as well as my clothing and sleeping bag, to get rid of the white lice infestation that we harbored. A high percentage of captured prisoners and Korean refugees had lice-borne typhus. I was glad for the dusting some time ago, as the lice were doing close order drill on my back at night, beginning shortly after dark. We took off our shirts in the daytime when possible, and searched for lice in the seams of our clothing. They were hard to find. We found the best way to kill the lice once they were found and know we had a KIA was to crush them between our two thumbnails. We were to be out of battalion reserve the next day, still moving up to different phase lines.

Day 275 – Monday 26 March 1951

The sun rose as it had in the past to warm the atmosphere, but the sun had little or no effect on the policies, politics, and foreign relations in Washington as to what to do with this war. Mixed signals and rumors had some of us guessing. We were fighting this war on the cheap and were closer than anyone else as assault squads in a rifle platoon, yet knew the least as to what was going on in the war. Company commanders and platoon leaders had maps, but they were not always shared with men in the squads. We only had a slight idea where we were, and I guess it did not matter as pertaining to our job performance in an assault squad. If a platoon or a squad went on a patrol, we might be given a map. I missed some of the men who left this scene in the Pusan Perimeter as a KIA, especially the ones that had a sense of humor who looked on the bright side instead of dwelling on the unpleasant things of life. We dug in for the night and were ordered to continue this jaunt.

Day 276 – Tuesday 27 March 1951

After an unremarkable night, we again welcomed the sun when it relieved us of the chill of night. Some frost this morning. I went to first chow and returned early to man our position alone and join the platoon when we moved out. I was intent on killing for food one or more of the numerous ring-necked pheasants roaming the hillside. They were a beautiful bird. I asked the Platoon Sergeant for his 45. He gave me his pistol and wished me luck. The ring-necks were beautiful in the morning sun as they scavenged for food. I was amazed how close I could get to them. I singled out one, aimed, pulled the trigger and the pheasant jumped.  It flew a few feet and continued his search for food. I considered another one who was walking slowly and pecking in the grass while going from side to side searching for something to eat. I aimed, pulled the trigger, missed, fired again, and missed. I tried one more time at one not so close.  I aimed, fired, and missed. I should have used an M1. I cleared the 45, picked up my pack and BAR, and met the platoon in the company area. The Platoon Sergeant had a good laugh when I gave him his 45. We took over the responsibility of the 27th Infantry Regiment, our sister regiment. It was not a busy day. We moved out and dug in for the night.

Day 277 – Wednesday 28 March 1951

The weather and food were high on our list of things that were very important to us. Both were variables and we did not know what to expect of either one of them. The clouds were effective in blocking the sun’s rays until midafternoon. I was one of the last from our platoon to join about seven men in the breakfast chow line. What a surprise: pancakes, syrup, bacon and coffee! As we were eating, one of the cooks shouted that we could finish off the remaining pancakes and bacon. The syrup was depleted. We formed a small, circular chow line of about seven men--the only circular chow line that was known to exist, to get another serving of pancakes. We took a pancake, wrapped it around a strip of bacon, and ate it as we walked around for our third helping of pancake and bacon. We thanked the cooks. What a treat. I knew that when I told my buddies in the platoon, they would never believe me.

Our platoon was assigned the task of reconnoitering a small village atop a low hill before the main body of troops moved out. We mounted two Easy Eights and moved out several hundred yards.  We could see the small village on top of the hill just beyond a small shallow stream. As the tank entered the stream, there was a muffled explosion which caused the right track to shed. We dismounted, forded the stream, and with a degree of caution, walked up the hill and entered the village.  At one time it was very nice, but now it was reduced to considerable rubble. We encountered no enemy soldiers, and from the appearance of the area we figured that they had left a day or so ago.

The village was rather spooky.  Not in the sense of ghosts, but our sixth sense told us not to tinker with anything. I noticed a dinner bell like they used on farms or at a one-room school house.  It was about 14 inches high and the diameter about 12 inches wide. I was tempted to pick it up, but I dared not.  I had to warn a new replacement not to move it or any other objects and to watch for trip wires and booby traps. We walked off the hill to join our company in the day’s mission. The disabled tank had run over a mortar round that had been armed and buried in the sandy streambed by the enemy. The sun came out later, and that helped to dry our clothing and boots from fording the stream. We hit light resistance, with the main body of enemy troops staying ahead of us. We dug shallow holes and called it a day.  I took first turn at guard.

Day 278 – Thursday 29 March 1951

Last night we dug in a large vacant field between two hills. Some of us scavenged the area for rice straw and rice bags to line our hole to make them a bit more comfortable from the cold damp ground of our foxholes. When the sun came up it did not reveal a thin layer of frost, but light snow covering the ground and about two inches on the hills. It was not a very good morning to wake to after being on guard two hours on and two hours off. The ground was not frozen and the soft mud clung to our boots like the gumbo mud at Fort Hood. I had no desire, if I made it back to the States, to go camping. I had been out in all kinds of weather 24 hours a day for weeks--enough for two lifetimes. We moved up with the Easy Eights of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion against little or no opposition. We dug in on a hill at twilight. The ground on the hill provided better ground for foxholes – another day of camping out.

Day 279 – Friday 30 March 1951

The sun came up on what I thought was the last day of the month. There was a tendency to lose track of time, days, weeks, and months. Few, if any of us, had a watch. We were driving toward the Iron Triangle area in central Korea. The road we were on was the main invasion route into South Korea. There was some talk and rumors that we would cross the 38th Parallel into North Korea. I heard that a lot of debate was going on with some in Washington as to whether it was wise and whether it might cause the war to escalate with China or Russia. We had seen some major action this month when we crossed the Han River at Yang-su-ri at the confluence of the Pukhan River. We dug in for the night. Deeter took first turn at guard.

Day 280 – Saturday 31 March 1951

Still cool and frosty as the sun arose to do battle for us in dissipating the cold frigid air. We learned that our objective was to capture the town of Chongsong on the 38th Parallel. I guess our company was the first to cross as the media was there to shoot some footage for the stateside people. The photographer photographed several of us, but Frenchie was selected by the cameraman to pose in a sitting position, leaning back against the steep ground with his M1 rifle alongside of him. The cameraman took a newspaper and scrawled 38th Parallel in large letters with a felt marker and had Frenchie hold the newspaper as though he was reading the paper while smoking a cigarette. The cameraman then lit the newspaper with his cigarette lighter and started his camera as the fire burned up through the paper.  The words 38th Parallel no longer existed as the paper fell in two pieces to reveal a smiling Frenchie.  It was a perfect complement to the cameraman’s creative expertise. We all gave Frenchie a round of applause. We moved beyond the 38th Parallel, completing our mission for the day. What lay ahead we had no idea. Unlike the North Korean soldiers, the Chinese soldiers were not as tenacious and bugged out without much of a fight. Our firepower was now far superior, but in the Pusan Perimeter days we were out-gunned. We just did not have what we needed. I took first turn at guard.

Day 281 – Sunday 01 April 1951

We kept moving up against moderate resistance, approaching the Iron Triangle. There was some concern about a massive counter attack by the Chinese who wanted to recapture Seoul. We heard rumors of last month’s success of Operation Rugged with an airborne drop of the 187th. We had to wait for the truth to manifest itself. We loved to hear the sounds of jets attacking and interdicting the enemy supply line, as well as P-51s providing close air support for rifle platoon as they took hills. The weather was very unpredictable. We dug in for the night. Deeter took first turn at guard.

Day 282 – Monday 02 April 1951

We were still waking up to frosty mornings. As the day wore on it was more comfortable. We were still making slow and steady progress against light resistance toward the Iron Triangle. At the close of the day’s advance, our company was assigned the area to the right of the road cut. A Company had the area to the left of the road cut. Our squad was singled out to outpost two men above the road cut. Our squad leader discovered an abandoned Chinese bunker well-concealed a short distance from the road cut. The bunker was entered by descending down three steps to a room about three feet wide, eight feet in length, and five feet high with a log roof.  A slit about a foot high ran the length of the room. This slit provided the enemy a means to fire from a well-protected area. The unique feature was a small hole on the back wall at floor level. Crawling through the small hole we came into a room like an igloo--the form of a hemisphere. The diameter of the room was about eight feet across and the ceiling at the highest point about five feet. It was a bit small for us, but more commodious for the Chinese. Some records, maps, scraps of paper, and some used candles were left behind by the Chinese. This must have been a planning room for officers at higher levels of operations. The craftsmanship and design were excellent throughout the bunker. I was overwhelmed with the ceiling in the igloo. The marks left by the mattock, or perhaps one of our own entrenching tools, left a beautiful design and rhythmical texture on the ceiling. A lot of dirt was removed from this bunker and it had to be carried away so as not to reveal its existence. I would have liked to claim it as my own creation, excluding the work. We spent two hours on guard at the road cut and two hours in the bunker. We could not hear the artillery being fired if inside the igloo. We enjoyed parts of the night in the bunker.

Day 283 – Tuesday 03 April 1951

Still cold with a frost that could be considered a light snow. I left the bunker and decided to try and make a drawing of the bunker if I could find time. We heard a muffled explosion at our outpost in A Company area. Later it was told that a new replacement in A Company had pulled the pin on a grenade and released the handle.  He had armed it, but he did not throw it. No other news about his condition. I recall when I was little my older brother was lighting and throwing firecrackers off the porch into the yard. I begged him to let me light one and throw it off the porch.  He let me strike a match, but he held the firecracker.  I struck the match, but instead of lighting the end of the fuse I excitably stuck the match in the end of the firecracker, bypassing the fuse.  It exploded between the fingers holding the firecracker. The pain was great and my brother's fingers were numb for a while. I expect that the soldier who pulled the grenade pin lost or had a mangled hand from the exploding grenade. We stopped to dig in. It would have been nice to find a bunker like we had last night. I took first turn at guard.  We enjoyed parts of the night in the bunker.

Day 284 – Wednesday 04 April 1951

The frost still clung on here and up high in the mountains with the deep valleys with vertical walls where the sun could not reach except for a few minutes a day at best. We continued to drive toward the Iron Triangle. We got bits and pieces of rumors that President Truman was going to sack General MacArthur. This had become a political and talking war. We did not know what to believe, but the general opinion in our ranks was that it would be a serious mistake to fire General MacArthur. We mostly agreed that General Ridgway was all hat and no cattle. General Van Fleet came with an impressive record.  We were told he was a field soldier. We just got on with our business as usual. We had an excellent regimental commander. Dark overtook us and it was digging and eating in the dark. I had a new replacement in my foxhole.

Day 285 – Thursday 05 April 1951

The sun came to work earlier each day, but the clouds and terrain hampered the sun’s work until he left for the day. We ate our morning chow and marched to an assembly area to be mated to some Easy Eights of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. While waiting for the order to move out, some of the tankers dismounted from their tanks. One young tanker sat on the turret with his legs dangling down inside the tank. A new replacement from our company climbed onto the tank and peered down the hatch at the tank’s interior. He said a grenade slipped off his harness strap and fell inside the tank. He leaned back quickly to avoid the explosion. The grenade wounded the tanker in the legs. The explosion did not wound the replacement from C Company. We learned later that the tanker, who was a new replacement, had to be evacuated. A number of things circulated among us. Some said it was intentional.  Some thought the pin had been straightened out and the pin caught on something that pulled the pin out as it fell. One said he leaned back knowing it was going to explode. Why did he not tell the tanker? Some said he did not look all that bright. The explosion broke a hydraulic line, disabling the tank. We would never know the reason. We got the order to move out. Not much opposition as we made our way toward Kumhwa. Dug in for the night.

Day 286 – Friday 06 April 1951

Still cold and scattered frost was the order of the day with warmer afternoons. There was a rumor that we would be going into I Corps    reserve. So far our advance had been unremarkable. Some units had encountered some difficult battles, but so far we had been spared. We heard a lot about stopping at the 38th Parallel and even General Ridgway, the 8th Army Commander, would favor that or a negotiated settlement. That was not very well received among us.

It was a rather pleasant day. I did not know who would be next to rotate. Vaughn was an excellent soldier and would make a superb squad leader. Dig, dig and dig.  It would have been nice to have portable foxholes. Another day, I did not know about the night.

Day 287 – Saturday 07 April 1951

The morning broke bright and fair with lingering patches of frost for the sun to do away with when he came to work. We crossed the Han River about a month ago today. We got the order to move.  We were going in reserve. We would be backing up the 24th and 27th Regiments in our division. We boarded trucks and were taken to our reserve destination, which was just like being on line but less guard duty and action. We were unable to be in Korean houses as this area had no town. We turned in early.

Day 288 – Sunday 08 April 1951

The sun came to work early, but we did not get much sunlight if we were located between two steep mountains with a narrow valley. I wrote a letter to Mom since I had not written for some time. We thought we might be off line for a week, if that was possible. Hank Bulger had been with us since the Pusan Perimeter days.  He was from Rumford, Maine, and had an excellent sense of humor. He wrote letters home telling them he was in reserve, never about being on line. His brother was a fireman in the fire department. We erected pup tents and dug slit trenches. We enjoyed three hot meals a day. We were thankful for the extra sleep we got each night. The chaplain was here and some of us attended service. We turned in for the night.  Since we had no lights, the CQ did not make his rounds to turn them out.  We also didn't have Taps.

Day 289 – Monday 09 April 1951

Even in I Corps reserve we loved to see the sun come up to take the chill out of the air and remove dew from the grass and our equipment. We were in pup tents, which was better than sleeping in a foxhole. We rode a truck to the shower point to shower, but there was a long line, so we decided to return to the company area. It was rather cold and the wind was blowing, which made it uncomfortable taking a shower.

On our return to the company area, the truck driver stopped the truck, jumped out, grabbed his M1 rifle, and ran to the edge of the road. We did not know why he stopped, so we started to dismount.  He put his M1 to his shoulder and fired a round, ran back, and returned his M1 behind the seat. He then took off, running across the fields to three burial mounds in the distance about 200 yards away. He bent over and picked up a ring-necked pheasant. He held it high in the air so we could see it. He walked back to the truck to a round of applause. Everyone shouted, “Why are you driving a truck?” Later in the day we went to get a shower and then went back to the area to clean our equipment around a fire we had built. As dark closed in, we went to our tents for a night of uninterrupted sleep.

Day 290 – Tuesday 10 April 1951

We still had some routine in reserve. The weather had warmed up some. I went for a dental check today along with several other men. I was scheduled for another appointment on the 13th, which was a Friday. I had received letters from Jack and Sis, and hoped to answer prior to going back on line. We played a game of softball this afternoon. We didn't have much of a place to play, but was something to do. I sat by the fire for a while and then went to the pup tent. No guard duty.

Day 291 – Wednesday 11 April 1951

The weather was cold and cloudy with light frost scattered throughout the valley. We did not see our constant visitor, not the CQ, but the sun is up there. Life off the line with only a few daily routines bordered on boredom.

The rumor that surfaced recently must have been true, as we heard late in the day that General MacArthur had been sacked. General Ridgway was appointed to take his place. President Truman and his staff, the JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and many high-ranking officers, Eisenhower, Ridgway, Marshall, and others, acted for political reasons and were all too happy to fill the vacuum when he left. General MacArthur was a superior general and had a concern for his troops, as well as high moral standards. One wrote, “Jealousy is the little soul’s grouch at seeing its own rejected ideals realized in another. Envy is the unwilling respect that inferiority pays to superiority.” They schemed for positions they had not earned and were occupied with self-esteeming their own greatness. We continued to soldier for $2.90 a day, plus a can of C-rations. I was glad to have served General MacArthur for over eight months or 246 days. End of our thought for the day. I had guard duty.

Day 292 – Thursday 12 April 1951

We watched for the early morning sun to arise for more reasons than one. Just then it was to take the chill out of the air, chase away the scattered frost, and to know we made it through the night. Reading the Gideon New Testament with Psalms, I read in Psalm 130, Verse 6, “My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

The morning began with thanksgiving. I got a letter from Tully Larew, my buttonhole kin. He was attending Berea College. Some time ago we were asked by Pappy Mills who we wanted to be our Platoon Sergeant--Pretzer or Bean. Bean transferred to D Company. Most opted for Pretzer, who paid a considerable sum of money to serve with his WWII outfit. Two more soldiers left on rotation. Charles (Chicken) Clark joined the Navy, Sis wrote in a letter. We did some training in reserve.

Day 293 – Friday 13 April 1951

A slight warming trend, but the early morning sun was always a treat. No mail of late. They called several of us to report to the dental clinic, located in a tent where the Dental Officer was set up. This was the first dental check I had had since Fort Hood. The Dental Officer insisted that he pull the front tooth that was broken. I explained to him why the dentist left the broken tooth in place. He numbed the tooth and proceeded to pull it. He put a lot of pressure on the good front tooth with the forceps as he tried to twist and pull on the broken tooth. I heard the good tooth crack, but he finally had the broken tooth out. I returned to the company area and was put on light duty.

Day 294 – Saturday 14 April 1951

We continued to awake at about the same time the sun came up, eager to eat hot chow. Rotation created a lot of rumors, but the facts were that most of the time they took two to four men for rotation. One man sent was a Corporal and a WWII soldier.  He infracted a rule and they returned him to the company. He told us why he was sent back, but nobody believed him. The Captain made him stay two weeks before sending him again. I wrote a letter to Jack and Sis.

Day 295 – Sunday 15 April 1951

The rays of the morning sun felt good, even though it was quite warm. A chaplain was in the area. We did not know which one, and not many attend the service. The day was more like a day Stateside, since we had the day off from training. A lot of men caught up on sleep, but some played softball.

Day 296 – Monday 16 April 1951

Cool, damp cloudy morning with no sun up in the sky. I returned to the dental clinic as instructed. The Dental Officer wanted to check the tooth he pulled for infection. I made no mention that he had cracked the good tooth when he pulled the broken tooth. When I went to noon chow, I pulled some green onions that had come up to eat with my chow. The onions enhanced the food. When I got back to the platoon area it was not long until they wanted to know who the Garlic Snapper was. I was and they rode me rather hard. What I thought were green onions turned out to be garlic. I noticed that the anatomy of the garlic was not like onions. I found out who my true buddies were.

Day 297 – Tuesday 17 April 1951

The day got off to a good start with the sun making us more comfortable. I was summoned to the Platoon CP. Vaughn was already there. The Platoon Sergeant announced that Wilburn Vaughn was being appointed a Squad Leader and I would be the Assistant Squad Leader of the second squad. We had no idea that we were being selected. Though I had been in the 1st Platoon longer, and since I was out of the platoon for 45 days in Tokyo Army Hospital, that may have been a deciding factor. I was promoted to Corporal on October 3, 1950. Vaughn and I had never shared a foxhole together. I was glad that they appointed Vaughn, as he was an outstanding soldier and leader.  He was fearless and had a good rapport with all the members of the platoon. I got rid of the BAR and the load that went with it, as well as my popularity when in a firefight.  The enemy was quick to sort the BAR Man out. Now I had a different role.

Day 298 – Wednesday 18 April 1951

From all indications, we would not be enjoying our life of ease in reserve much longer. We would miss the extra sleep and hot meals, but we would always enjoy the warmth of the sun to cheer us up, whether we were on or off the line. We continued to work with our new replacements and the few changes made in the platoon and the second squad with Vaughn as Squad Leader. We both trusted that the new replacements would not be trigger happy at night. The new BAR Man seemed to be taking in the instruction of its use and maintenance. As night closed in, we returned to our pup tents.

Day 299 – Thursday 19 April 1951

I was thankful that neither man nor politicians could control or change the sun or its movements. Master Sergeant Arneson, the Company Supply Sergeant, asked to be transferred to a rifle platoon. He was assigned to the 1st Platoon and was now a member of the fourth squad, a weapons squad. He seemed to be a good addition to our platoon. He had been well-received in the platoon, as well as in the fourth squad. We trusted he made a right decision. We continued some night exercises that would be helpful for a patrol going out at night with the mission of taking a prisoner. If the rumor was right, we would be leaving at any time.

Day 300 – Friday 20 April 1951

We arose with the sun and continued our routine and some training. They provided us with a small Mother’s Day card, which was not until the 13th of May. I guess they gave them out early so we could mail them so as Moms could get them on time. I wrote a short note on the inside and put it in the mail. We were to go on line the next day. We would be told where our position was in the line.

Day 301 – Saturday 21 April 1951

The day broke bright and clear. It was a little on the cool side, but not for the time of year. Corporal Vaughn kept us informed as to current events. His leadership would make him an outstanding squad leader. The situation was one of wait and see, but from all indications the Chinese were making an all-out effort to drive Eighth Army out of Korea. A little uncertain as to our movement just now. We were taken by truck to our destination. I liked the BAR, but I would not miss it or the load that came with it in climbing up and down steep hills.

Day 302 – Sunday 22 April 1951

The sun had been out and the days had been warm. Signs of spring were everywhere. We had enjoyed our being off the line, though they wanted to keep us in shape climbing hills and compass and night map reading. We were not often called to attack at night, but it could be a plus if we were trained in night operations. The enemy was skilled in this area and was to be commended for their night operations. Information from line crossers and intelligence reports indicated that the Chinese were massing troops in central Korea for a massive drive on Seoul. The rumor was that we were going back on line the next day, but by midafternoon things changed and there was an urgency for us to move up to the area of the 27th Regiment’s rear echelon.

We dug shallow foxholes in the area near the 27th Infantry Regiment. As I was digging in the rocky ground along with another GI and an attached Korean, a small snake about nine to twelve inches long was uncovered. Before I could kill the snake, it crawled back into a crevice. The attached Korean was long gone and would not come near the hole after that. I had no idea if the snake was venomous or not. We did not want to dig another hole, as it was almost dark. That was the first snake I had seen in Korea. We decided we would take our chances, so we bedded down for the night in the hole.

Day 303 – Monday 23 April 1951

The sun came up to reveal a bleak landscape. It was a bit cool and damp. Yesterday we were pulled out of reserve and took up positions behind the 27th Infantry Regiment’s rear echelon. We ate our morning chow and assembled at the road, where we boarded trucks that took us several miles up the road. We detrucked and hiked up a narrow road that would only accommodate a Jeep and foot traffic. We forded a small stream by foot and proceeded up a very narrow valley. The mountains were very steep on each side of the trail. The landscape was dotted with small trees in and around the rocky terrain. The company set up a rear CP at a wide spot on the trail. The trail diminished so that only foot traffic could proceed beyond that point.  We proceeded up the steep mountain to a point near the top where the forward CP was located just below the crest of the hill.

We proceeded to the top of the hill. The 1st Platoon was assigned the left flank. The Platoon CP was located at the bend of an extended S curve. The second squad was assigned to the left of the bend and the other two squads were extended along the ridge to the right of the Platoon CP and joined up with the other platoons of the company along the ridgeline to the right. In the event of a withdrawal, the company would assemble at the 1st Platoon CP and then work our way down to the Company CP.

The ridge was rather level to a point beyond my foxhole, where it descended into the Hantan River Valley. My foxhole tied in with the right flank of A Company, whose line ran down the ridge to the valley where it tied in with the 2nd Battalion’s line that crossed the valley. The ridgeline was narrow, the mountain broke off steeply to each side, and digging a foxhole was difficult in the rocky terrain because there was not much dirt. We had an excellent view of the valley from my position.

Our sector was once held by the Turks. The 24th Infantry Regiment was on our right flank. We heard that they bugged out 7,000 yards last night, but were back on line.  They fled, panic-stricken. I made contact with A Company on my left. They had a machine gun set up about 100 feet from my position. This was their extreme right flank.

Day 304 – Tuesday 24 April 1951

The morning broke crisp and cold with scattered frost. A light haze hung over the valley below. We heard voices on a distant ridge to our right front, but did not believe it to be enemy troops. A few of us left for chow. Most of the men said the walk was too far for breakfast. We made our way down the steep mountain to the company rear CP. As we were eating, three Turkish soldiers wandered into our company area. They were a sorry lot to look at – barefooted, haggard, and battered. One had a Japanese Army rifle. From what we could gather, they had been captured some days ago, but during the night they strangled a guard, took his rifle, and escaped. Captain Pannell radioed battalion about the situation and requested that socks and a Jeep to transport them to the rear be sent. They went through the chow line and joined us alongside a rock outcropping. We all carried a GI spoon to eat with, whereas they had no utensils but their hands. I was amazed when one of the GIs who had finished eating left his spoon and his mess gear. When he turned his head to speak to a GI next to him, the Turk took his spoon and started eating.  Even in the Turkish Army, a good soldier never comes up short. The Jeep arrived with brand-new socks. The Turks were, indeed, grateful for the new socks and examined them carefully before stuffing them into their jacket pocket. They were instructed to get in the Jeep and they were taken to battalion headquarters.

We started our long climb to the top of the mountain, carrying our day’s supply of C-rations and what breakfast chow we could carry to the men on the mount. When we reached the top of the mountain, the sun had heated the air sufficiently to displace the haze in the valley. We had a beautiful view of the valley and the high cliffs that flanked the Hantan River as it curved and twisted to join the Han River near Seoul.

We assumed that the voices we heard were the Turkish soldiers that wandered into our company area. At noon we ate our C-rations and it felt like a spring day. We did not improve our position, since we would most likely be ordered to withdraw when the order was given. I put several large rocks that would roll easily on the parapet of our foxhole and told my foxhole buddy that if we were attacked we would roll them down the mountainside to confuse the enemy.

About an hour before dark, the artillery that had been fired beyond the Hantan River was now falling in the vicinity of the cliffs and the river’s bend in the valley below. As daylight began to fade, the crackle of small arms and machine gun fire began to build in volume. Mortars could be heard coughing and exploding, and we heard the sound of artillery shells being dropped closer to the line in the valley. As darkness settled in, the valley was lit up with a profusion of red and green tracers.

I told my foxhole buddy, who was a new replacement, that he should go to sleep and I would take the first two hours of guard, but he insisted that I go to sleep and he would take the first two hours of guard. I could tell that he was apprehensive. I was quite happy to comply with his wishes, because in a few hours we would be in action or on the move. I told him that if anything out of the ordinary happened he was to give me a shake. He awakened me about two hours later and said he thought he could hear vehicles down in the area in front of us. I listened and, sure enough, I could hear vehicles on the move, but no tanks or track-laying vehicles. The battle was still going on in the valley without let up. He told me to go back to sleep and that he would take another two hours of guard. So I took advantage of his offer and slept for another two hours or more.

Day 305 – Wednesday 25 April 1951

A tug on my sleeve by my foxhole buddy stirred me from sleep. I could sense that he was a bit concerned. We could hear vehicles operating in the narrow valley below us. I reasoned that it was most likely Russian advisors, and that if the enemy made a frontal assault we would roll the rocks down the mountainside to confuse the enemy. The night was cool and clear. He insisted that he was not sleepy and that I go back to sleep. I awoke once or twice and could hear the chatter of small arms fire, mortars coughing, and incoming and outgoing mail, but the battle was no nearer to us than it had been, so I would go back to sleep. He awakened me again. I got up, a bit concerned that the enemy might try to flank us and work behind the battalion in the valley.

Vaughn came over and told us to follow him to the Platoon CP. We got our gear on hastily and followed Vaughn, and other members of the squad joined us en route to the Platoon CP, where we waited for the rest of the other platoons. We started down the hill to our Company CP. A short distance down the mountainside, the word was passed down that we were short the machine gun squad. Vaughn and another GI volunteered and went back on the ridge, but could not find a trace of them. The entire company had walked behind them except our squad, and it was hard to believe that the squad did not notice the withdrawal. Vaughn caught up with us at the Company CP.

After walking a half mile we came upon some tanks and vehicles. The battle in the valley was still in full bloom. We were moving when a .51 caliber elephant gun opened up on us to our left front. The column stopped and our CO ordered Vaughn to take his squad and silence the enemy gunner. As we proceeded in the darkness toward the gun position, one of our tanks fired his cannon toward the enemy position, nearly hitting us. Vaughn shouted for me to go back and instruct the tankers to hold their fire. I ran back to the lead tank some hundred yards away, but they were buttoned up tight. I pounded on the side of the tank, but got no answer. Then I got on the phone on the rear of the tank and told them not to fire at our squad or I would put them out of action. We do not take enemy fire or friendly fire lightly.

I ran back to the squad, which had either put the gun out of action or the enemy had moved to a new location. We were on the road again starting down the valley. Red tracers could be seen on the left-hand side of the valley about a mile away. I thought it was our sister regiment, the 27th Infantry Regiment, holding our flank. We began to draw machine gun fire from both sides of the road, but the enemy gunners were too far away to be effective. The column stopped. The battle in the valley had stopped, so I figured that our 2nd Battalion must have withdrawn. All was quiet except an occasional shot.

The enemy blew a bugle in the distance; no one responded. The enemy once again blew the bugle and some GI in desperation fired a shot at the enemy bugler. A short distance away, an enemy soldier beat on a pan and another not too far from him had a rattler. No one shot.

The column started moving again. There was a mixing of troops. I recognized the voice of a sergeant from Fort Hood. He was in E Company. We were catching up on our experiences when a mortar round exploded near us and we went in different directions. I did not hear or see him after that. I was eager for daylight to come so we could take the enemy under fire. The road got more crowded with troops and vehicles moving and stopping. The eastern sky began to reveal a landscape filled with carnage.  The Regimental Headquarters tent and other tents were heaps of smoldering canvas.  Vehicles were turned over and riddled with bullet holes.  An ambulance was on the side of the road with its rear doors open.  The wounded were shot dead and the driver was slumped over the steering wheel.  A 105 artillery piece was turned over in the road ditch. The enemy was shooting from the low hills on both sides of the road. We were caught in crossfire like the lacing on a boot.

We ran and dodged for cover. I ran for protection to a deuce and a half truck that was turned over on the road. Machine gun bullets began to riddle the bed near me, so I ran to the other side of the truck and stooped down behind the hood.  I thought that the motor would provide protection, but bullets began to punch holes in the hood from behind me. I broke away from the road because the machine gunners had found the range and zeroed in on vehicles. We were in the thick of it, but away from the road we provided less of a target and were out of range of the machine gunners on the left side of the road. They had orchestrated this road block with great skill. Though I was closer to the enemy, I was less of a target because I ran across the rice paddies instead of running on the dikes. The dikes provided some protection and I was not high profile.

I ducked back into a little niche where three paddy dikes intersected--not to catch my breath, but to evaluate the scene and situation while watching the world go by. On the road the traffic was moving slowly. While Jeeps pulled trailer loads of equipment and wounded, often another wounded man would run and fall on the trailer in hopes of reaching safety. One man ran past me with no helmet, pack, or rifle. He had twisted his field jacket on his upper arm about the elbow to form a tourniquet to staunch the blood flowing from his arm.  It had been partly shot away and was just dangling. He ran without regard to his life, knowing that his only hope was to run the gauntlet before he collapsed from loss of blood.

I was joined by two other GIs in the little niche. I left the niche to the two GIs, shouting them a word of encouragement. We returned fire when it was practical and within range, knocking out enemy machine gunners. Vaughn came upon a machine gun squad and killed the entire crew. They were dressed as civilians and tried to wave him off, but he did not spare them. As we neared the end of the gauntlet some four miles later, the small arms fire slackened; the road was clear for the most part; and traffic was moving. We began to walk more slowly down the road once beyond the enemy. We had been about five or six hours fighting our way out.

Colonel Kelleher was on the road to greet each of us. He had his gauntlet to run when the enemy hit Regimental Headquarters CP. The 24th Infantry Regiment was responsible for our plight. They had bugged out, leaving our right flank open for the enemy to work three to five miles to our rear area and set up a road block. The 24th Infantry Regiment abandoned their positions without even informing the division or adjacent units. They had no discipline whatsoever. We were directed to where we could find our companies. Quite a few of C Company were already resting in a field.

Day 306 – Thursday 26 April 1951

My foxhole buddy gave me a tug on the sleeve and whispered it was my turn for guard. I found it hard to believe that the night was passing so quickly and that the enemy had not tested our line. Another two hours and it should be daylight. We were dug in along the base of a slight hill with paddy fields to our front and several thatched houses to our front 300 yards away. The paddy dikes formed a network with many of the dikes terminating along the base of the hill. As always, I slept with one bandoleer around my neck just in case we had to exit in great haste. My rifle was on the parapet with my cartridge belt underneath to keep it off of the dirt. As I contemplated the events of the past few days, I still wondered how we lost a squad led by Sergeant Arneson, who had just entered the platoon. He was the Company Supply Sergeant and asked to be transferred to a rifle platoon. I do not know why he did it, but I would most likely do the same thing.

All was quiet as I stared into darkness, hearing only the sounds of night.  Suddenly I caught from the corner of my eye an object moving quickly, crouching very low about six feet in front of me. I moved quickly and silently, picking up my M1.  Before I could push the safety off, a large black cat (panther or wild cat) disappeared into the darkness. I knew that an enemy could not move that quickly or silently. Putting my rifle down and collecting my thoughts once again, I kept hearing a rapid thump, thump, thump.  It was my heart beating, and the bandoleer around my neck was in rhythm with it. Daylight could not be long in coming.

Visibility was a bit better. I could hear movement out in front as I picked up a column of men walking the patty dike.  They were coming toward our positions, but were beyond the curve in our platoon’s line. I grabbed my foxhole buddy and whispered to him as I pointed out the men walking. He could not see them as they approached.  I had counted about eleven so far. I kept waiting and waiting for the platoon to open up, but no one fired on the approaching column. I was convinced that my foxhole buddy had been asleep when the order was given for us to withdraw.  I never fully trusted him. I halted between two opinions.  Should I open fire to warn the platoon (they could be asleep) or do I hold my fire so as not to give away our position if we were all alone. I followed the lead man, sighting along the barrel of my M1 as it was too dark to see through the peep sight. In a few more seconds the lead man would disappear behind the curve, so I took the slack out of the trigger and at the decisive moment the morning stillness was shattered as the M1 recoiled against my shoulder, emptying the partial clip of five or six rounds and raking the area of the column.  I quickly reloaded.

My foxhole buddy got off one shot. All was silent--absolute silence. This confirmed my suspicion that my foxhole buddy had been asleep as we were alone and firing at the enemy. The patrol would likely provide the enemy our position. I wondered if I should affect a plan for the two of us to escape just as it was light enough to detect us. Perhaps I was just seeing things due to combat fatigue.  My foxhole buddy had not seen anything. I did not speak to him because of my suspicion.  I felt that he could not be trusted. He did not have any qualities for a rifleman.

A shout broke the morning calm from the thatched houses across the rice paddies – "Yeoboseyo."  I could tell the owner of the voice was neither Korean nor Chinese, but an American GI. I waited for someone to shout, but there was silence so I shouted, “If you are a GI, speak English.” He shouted back, wanting to know who fired the burp gun. I shouted for them to come and see. They came along the paddy dike to the positions below us. I went down to see them. They were lost and could not find their units.  Eight were from the 24th Infantry Division and three were from the 3rd Infantry Division.  The two divisions had been on our left and right flanks. The men had been wandering around for two days, trying to locate their units. Our men were awake and a BAR Man had them sighted in and was holding his fire until the first one was ten feet away before he and his assistant would open fire on them.  He said it was a good thing that I had fired first or some of them would have been killed or wounded. They were glad to have morning chow with us. Later that morning a truck came to pick them up.

We ate our noon chow and started moving south, hiking a few miles to our new positions. I did not envy those heavy water-cooled machine gunners from Dog Company--they had a heavy load to carry. We moved into our new positions before dark. The events of the morning bothered me to no end.  What if I had killed or wounded one or more of those GIs? I think that would have put an end to my combat as a rifleman.

Day 307 – Friday 27 April 1951

We were still moving slowly, but we were still moving south. The ground had a scattering of frost on it, but would hopefully warm up as the day progressed. The enemy played out his major thrust, but the drill continued. Some units buckled all too quickly. Every division, regiment, battalion, company, platoon, and squad had its weak unit, and the enemy sought it out if he could.  And why shouldn’t he? It made life a lot easier and put other units in a compromised situation. It is like peeling a hard-boiled egg – when the membrane is broken, then it is a lot easier to peel. We were to withdraw sometime later in the day.

Day 308 – Saturday 28 April 1951

The day dawned cool and bright. All of our positions were intact. The Chinese attacked last night, but were unable to find an opening. They were turned back by disciplined troops, mortar, and artillery. The Chinese were good soldiers, but lacked the hard qualities of the North Koreans.  That might have been because the North Korean were fighting for their own cause.  The Chinese, like the UN units, were here not for their own cause. We again moved to accommodate the gains that the enemy made to other units on the line.

Day 309 – Sunday 29 April 1951

We were always thankful for the sun to take away not only the darkness, but the dew or scattered frost. We were tired because there was no rest or relaxing as we moved every day to new positions.  As we said, we were digging to live and living to dig, but it could have been worse. We had to shift our line due to the enemy’s success elsewhere. We were to drive up this same highway, valley, and ridge as soon as the enemy offensive stopped. We knew that road from prior experience.

Day 310 – Monday 30 April 1951

It was a miserable night of light rain and it had turned cooler. We arrived here late yesterday and dug in. B Company was to the left of the road and C Company to the right of the road. The company was dug in along a high dike, with the exception of the 1st Platoon.  That platoon was in the rice paddy and extended 200 yards to some shacks on the right at the base of a hill to tie in with K Company of our 3rd Battalion, which was occupying the high hill and beyond. We were to leave this area before noon to defense positions on Line Golden. Intelligence reports indicated that the enemy was not within striking distance.

Most of us were as wet as drowned rats. Most of our squad went to the shacks at the base of the hill where a fire had been started.  Other men of the platoon were also there, warming and drying their clothes by the fire. I returned to my foxhole at about 10:30 p.m. to catch forty winks. I decided not to clean my rifle, as we would be leaving shortly. I made myself comfortable on a rice sack we had put in the hole.  As I was drifting off for some much-needed sleep, I heard a shot.  I paid no attention to it until a second shot followed, and then I got up to see what was in the works. The sun had taken away some of the fog and it had stopped raining. Pete, one of our Koreans who had served in the Japanese Army in WWII, had shot a PIW (People in White) some 100 yards in front of his foxhole. Pete was always neat and a professional soldier in the best sense of the word, so I knew something was in the works. Men from the platoon ran from the shacks back to their positions and the show started.

The enemy was approaching in large numbers down the valley road, marching in two columns, one on each side of the road. They were leaving the road at 500-700 yards and moving into the paddy fields to form skirmish lines.  They proceeded to advance in our direction using the dikes for protection. We could not fire in the direction of the enemy, whose advanced elements surprised the men in the shacks.

A shout came from the dike for us to fall in behind the dike. The men started collecting their belongings and fell back in behind the dike. I vacated my foxhole and took a position on the dike. The machine gunner grabbed the machine gun, but the black boy did not get the tripod, so it was not very useful. Most of the rifles and machine guns were not firing, as they were dirty. My first shot and the operating rod did not work. The spent shell casing was stuck fast in the chamber. I slid off of the dike and tried to drive the operating rod back with the heel of my hand. After several attempts, I punctured the skin in the palm of my right hand.  I was desperate. I grabbed a rock and started tapping the operating rod lug gently, as I did not want to break it or tear the end off of the cartridge. Captain Pannell came by and wanted to know why I was not on the line firing. When he saw what I was doing, I did not have to explain, as he could see the gravity of the situation.

A can of oil was passed down the line and things began to sound like what Charlie Company was supposed to sound like. I put some oil in the chamber and passed it on.  My M1 responded, as there was an endless supply of enemy troops. I was unaware that our 3rd and 4th Platoons had withdrawn early this morning. We had no supportive fire except eight-inch artillery and tanks. B Company on the left was in the same predicament. The show continued to unfold--a steady volume of fire and the tanks taking long shots on the troop concentrations.

Captain Pannell called Vaughn to take our squad up the valley to see if we could contact K Company, which had been on the high ground above the shacks. Two tanks were to accompany us. The squad ran single file across the small, shallow stream behind the dike. The two tanks came alongside. We divided into two groups, walking alongside the tank to provide a shield from the small arms fire being directed on us from the crest of the ridge. We were to provide protection for the tanks. We walked about a mile up the valley, which narrowed down. Vaughn was on the radio to Captain Pannell as he walked alone another hundred yards. The tanks would not go any further. Vaughn could not see any signs of K Company. We were ordered to return to our position behind the dike.

Back behind the dike we were drawing fire from the crest of the ridge above the shacks from an enemy machine gunner and several riflemen.  I delivered a few rounds, but had to conserve my dwindling supply of ammunition. Men begged for clips. Some got a belt of machine gun ammo and loaded their clips for the M1 and BARs. Tanks were also running out of ammo. I think Captain Pannell realized that our exposed right flank with no K Company on our right was in great danger, as the enemy would attempt to work around our flank. We realized that we were in trouble.

At the last possible moment, 16 tanks came down the road behind us and they were directed to form a semi-circle all along the dike. When they started firing we were ordered to withdraw, running behind the tanks for protection. We were on the right flank, so we were the first to leave. We fell in behind B Company and once out of range we started hiking down the main road in two columns while the tanks provided a brief delaying action. When the tanks withdrew they caught up with us, and we mounted the tanks, which took us to safety on the outskirts of Seoul.  We ate our evening chow.  Thankfully it was hot, but not as hot as the chewing out that followed.

Captain Pannell assembled us to give us a chewing out and a dressing down. He was beside himself. I do not think he believed all he said.  He called us a bunch of cowards.  We went to some lowly, dingy houses for the night. We were not at all happy about his nailing our hide to the wall. Some said that he was mad because Lieutenant Spann had been shot in the leg and he thought someone in the 2nd Platoon was guilty. Lieutenant Spann was the Platoon Sergeant of the 2nd Platoon and had received a battlefield commission and now was the Platoon Leader for the 2nd Platoon. He was an excellent soldier and leader. He expected a lot and gave a lot. I wish we had had him as our platoon leader.

When he left the shack, one replacement became disoriented and ran right into the enemy advancing elements. Another replacement was shot, receiving a leg wound as he made his way across the rice paddy.  He was unable to move. Those were the only ones who got hurt. We estimated that over 700 Chinese converged on us. We were tired and worn out from the day’s work. The hard floors of the Korean shacks were appreciated for a night’s rest.

Day 311 – Tuesday 01 May 1951

We had a good night of uninterrupted sleep. We arrived at our new position early in the afternoon. We were about seven miles north of Seoul and the Han River. Our platoon was dug in along a large dike with a good field of fire to our front. The ground was level for about 100 yards to our front, then some small hills provided a tranquil backdrop. A single house of western design was on one of the hills and I thought that it should be burned to the ground as it could provide a good observation point for the enemy. I had my own squad now. Maybe I would receive a promotion to Sergeant. The days were warm and pleasant. There was still some talk about our chewing out last night--a lot of rumors. A road passed through the dike to our right and our Company CP was located in a small village to our rear.

Day 312 – Wednesday 02 May 1951

The mornings had had a slight haze that soon evaporated after the sun was up. The heat and humidity were more noticeable. We had been digging in, as they expected the enemy to take the slack up and the enemy wanted to take Seoul as much as we wanted to keep it. Digging had been easy on the dike, but nine months of practice helped. The earth was soft with no rock or roots. We put a roof on our hole to keep the rain and dew off, and it provided a nice sense of false security. We strung barbed wire and put out a few trip flares. On our way back from chow we carried a load of ammo and grenades. I had 16 bandoleers and 19 grenades in our hole.

The AA (Anti-Aircraft) gun – a Quad 50, was to my right. They could put out a lot of firepower and stop an attack in its tracks, but the downside was that they drew fire like a dead carcass draws flies--not only small arms, but artillery. I got a few letters from home and a package from Sis – the first bit of mail we had received for several weeks. I wrote Dad a letter just before dark.

As a squad leader I had a lot more to be concerned about. I had a mix of some new replacements and the rest had been in the platoon for months, some since last July. Hank Bulger was my Assistant Squad Leader. A South Korean civilian carried a note through our position written by a man from C Company who had been wounded and had been put in a shed by the Chinese. He was shot through the knee. An armored patrol consisting of tanks, half-tracks, and a platoon of rangers left our line at midmorning to pick up the GI. They came back with him without incident--some eight miles to the shacks at the base of the hill beyond the dike we held.

Day 313 – Thursday 03 May 1951

The sun chased the haze away, but the day was mostly overcast and very hot and humid. We spent most of the day digging and improving our positions with trip flares and booby traps. The AA dug a shallow place for the Quad 50. They were very friendly. We were glad to have them near and knew that they would provide a lot of protection in case of a frontal attack. I had eighteen bandoleers, sixteen grenades, and two little white phosphorus grenades. I had seven men in my squad--four new replacements and three old ones. I would have liked to have had two BAR Men, but that would make a difference in attacking, patrolling, or being attacked. A squad of eleven instead of nine, but divided up – Squad Leader – five Rifleman, two BAR Men, two Assistant BAR Men, and Assistant Squad Leader could work very well. We were a bit tired from stringing wire, setting trip flares, and improving positions. The days were longer.

Captain Pannell came up on the line unexpected this morning as we were stringing barbed wire. We were working about 100 yards from our positions. He wanted to know who was in charge. I double-timed over and reported to him. He chewed me out for not having our rifles. I complied and took rifles to the men. I thought it was safe to work without our rifles, but one never knew, so it was better to be safe than sorry. I wrote Mom a letter as the sun was going down.

Day 314 – Friday 04 May 1951

The mornings were still cool – almost at the frost level, but it warmed up once the sun cleared away the mist. A farmer was cultivating his field in behind the dike with an ox. I took a short break on the dike and got a bit of sunburn on my chest. I learned some of the words the old farmer used to guide and turn his ox. I shouted opposite commands to confuse the ox, which caused him to turn the wrong way. The old farmer expressed his appreciation of my learning a few words of the working class with a large smile and gesture. I knew gee and haw for horses.

The enemy had been probing the area of the 65th Infantry of the 3rd Division. They always searched out a weak regiment, if they could, to attack. The 24th Infantry Regiment of our division and the 65th were not to be trusted. Rumor had it that the 65th was in the early stages of mutiny. The enemy had best not come knocking on the door of the 35th. We walked the short distance to the village to eat chow three times a day – a half a squad at a time. We found a cheap accordion in one of the houses. I am no musician, but I got a few bars of a tune out that greatly impressed my peers.

The Company CP was dug in and had very comfortable quarters. I took first turn at guard. There was a  house on the hill to our left front, which was not a good situation as we were concerned that the enemy might want to use it as an observation post. We felt very comfortable with the Quad 50 parked by our hole, but if we were attacked it would become a hot spot and the enemy would attempt to knock it out. We went to our holes and turned in for the night. Men who were to take the second turn at guard had already turned in.

Day 315 – Saturday 05 May 1951

The sun was still our most important early morning visitor and there seemed to be universal and unanimous agreement that the sun was always a most welcome visitor. That was true even several nights ago, when we withdrew into a trap that we were unaware of in the darkness of night.  How true the words of the Psalmist as recorded in Psalm 30, Verse 5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

When the dawn’s early light crept over the hills and into the valley, it revealed to us a horrid, dismal, and seemingly insurmountable situation.  There were smoldering fires of materiel and supplies, and endless carnage of indiscriminate and wholesale slaughter of soldiers.  Defenseless, wounded soldiers were in ambulances, ready to be sent to the Regimental Aid Station.  Trucks, Jeeps, and artillery pieces were overturned.  There were walking wounded and men fighting their way out of the trap, with lurking enemy soldiers on the hills and rice paddies on both sides of the road. The smell of powder from exploding mortar rounds, grenades, rifle and machine gun fire, and the noise of the same filled the air. Yet silence prevailed between the spaces: no crying, screaming, cursing or bitterness was heard. A noted music composer once said that the most beautiful music is no music – it is the silence between the notes.  The positive is what we hear; the negative is the interval between what we hear. Have you mastered the sounds between life and death? In all of this, “Joy cometh in the morning.”

After that it was back to digging, filling sand bags, and improving our positions in the hot, sweltering heat of the sun. My foxhole buddy was fast asleep, and I enjoyed the spaces between noise and objects as I stared into the dark--looking and listening on guard.

Day 316 – Sunday 06 May 1951

We were not sun worshippers, but we appreciated that the God who created all things put a sun up in the sky. We worked on our positions and strung wire. We got permission to investigate the house to see if we could find any evidence of renters or squatters. We found nothing, but the enemy had not made any contact with us.

Some of us walked nearly a mile back to the Company CP to attend chapel service in the afternoon. It was another beautiful day. There was some activity to our far right in the sector of the 65th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division. Since we were strung out along the dike, we did not congregate in little groups to pontificate and solve the problems of the world like we did in the Pusan Perimeter.

Day 317 – Monday 07 May 1951

The sun came to work earlier each day and we felt the effects of it by midafternoon. We had an anti-aircraft halftrack and crew of the 21st AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) Automatic Weapons Battalion dig their halftrack in on the side of the dike beside us. The anti-aircraft weapons were mounted on halftracks and could be used to fire at aircraft, but in Korea they were also used with the infantry or units needing protection. Some were mounted with four .50 caliber machine guns and were able to put out a lot of fire power. The downside of having the halftrack close by was that they drew a lot of fire and attention from the enemy who was eager to knock them out. Two to four men a week from our company went on rotation. We were on the main road to Seoul, but the enemy had shown himself.

Day 318 – Tuesday 08 May 1951

Some fog and haze kept the sun at bay until midmorning and increased the humidity to drain our ambition and strength. We continued to upgrade our foxholes and positions. If we were to be in an area for some time, and depending on the soil, we dug the hole about four feet deep, three feet wide, and eight feet long. Sometimes we dug a catch-hole about eighteen inches deep by eight inches by eight inches at one end of the hole. If a grenade landed in the hole, we threw or kicked it into the catch-hole and ducked so the grenade would explode harmlessly. Often we dug the hole with a step on one end about twenty inches high so the one on guard had a seat. Machine gun squads dug a horseshoe-shaped hole so the gun could be moved around without moving the tripod. The dirt from foxholes was often used to form a parapet for protection from enemy fire, but if not camouflaged properly it could give away one’s position. My squad was divided by the halftrack. I think it should have been the junction of two squads. There was not much air activity from fighter jets, but it could be heard in the far distance in front of the 65th Infantry Regiment on our right.

Day 319 – Wednesday 09 May 1951

There was light rain and it was cloudy and cool most of the day. In cleaning my M1 rifle, I often wanted to take the bolt apart. We were not to disassemble a bolt except in the presence of a first three grader – that is, a Sergeant, a Sergeant First Class, or a Master Sergeant. Since I was a squad leader and a corporal waiting to be promoted to sergeant, I decided that I would take the bolt apart. I did not have a manual, but I proceeded anyway. All of a sudden the firing pin shot out of the bolt and where it landed might have been in enemy territory. What was I going to do now? Even the manual, if I had one, could not help me find the firing pin. I took my rifle to chow, stopped in the Company CP, and told the First Sergeant my bolt was out of commission. He said, "Take my rifle and leave yours here."  I insisted that I liked my rifle as it was sighted in, so I sprung the operating rod on his M1, slipped the bolt out of his rifle, put my bolt in his rifle and his in mine, and went to chow. I would never try that stunt again in the presence of anyone, regardless of rank. I would not want to embarrass them, as they might not know the procedure.

Day 320 – Thursday 10 May 1951

We had been in these positions for some time now and it was almost like being in reserve. All had been remarkably quiet in our sector. Intelligence reported that the enemy might strike down the highway that ran through the dike, and there were reports that the enemy had shifted his attacks eastward. Here, life went on about the same. There was not much more we could do to our positions. We still did not like the western-style house, as it could be used to observe our movements and defenses.

Day 321 – Friday 11 May 1951

Another dull day with no visible sun up in the sky. At midmorning I was notified to report to the First Sergeant. No explanation was given. I walked back to the CP and entered his makeshift bunker. He said, “Scott, sign those papers.” Nobody disobeyed the order of a First Sergeant--not ours, anyway. I complied and signed the document. He said, “You are in the Army now.”  I said, “Where do you think I have been, Sarge?” He explained that a train was destroyed and perhaps my records were on that train. We thought the train was destroyed when we evacuated Pyongyang. I told him, “I was glad that it was my records that were destroyed instead of me.” He laughed and said that I was replaceable, but not my records. I returned to the dike and told everyone that I was back in the Army officially. I had just signed an affidavit that I was in the Army. Jokingly they said, “You must be crazy.” "You can always enlist and get a bonus."  Other comments followed. It was Bennie Oxley’s birthday. We were the best of friends. News from home said he was now in the Army.

Day 322 – Saturday 12 May 1951

We continued to hold our positions here much longer than we anticipated. While the sun was still welcome, we would have liked it if the sun withheld the heat somewhat. There were no rumors that were worth listening to. We still continued to enhance the defense of barbwire and booby traps.

Day 323 – Sunday 13 May 1951

The overall weather situation had improved some. Did we thank the sun? Some of us walked back to the Company CP to chapel service. I might add, there was no chapel--not even a portable one. Most of the time it was out of doors, and rarely in a building. The quality of the service was not due to a building, but rather, the chaplain. There were also tracts, booklets, and Gideon New Testaments spread out for one to take. If the rumor was right, when we pulled out, some few troops would stay behind to protect the position in the event we had to fall back so the position would be intact.

Day 324 – Monday, 14 May 1951

Though we liked the sun for the light it brought, he could leave the heat behind. We were taking the anti-malarial drug again--a hard pill to swallow. We took the pill once a week. Being a squad leader, I had to watch each GI in my squad take the pill. For the new replacements I told them it was a necessary ordeal and it would make a man out of them. On the back side of the dike I took my undershirt off to enjoy the sunshine. I might have gotten cooked.

Day 325 – Tuesday 15 May 1951

I realized that the rising sun gave me a tan that would peel off in a day or so. I had quite a few blisters and was very uncomfortable, but I dared not go on sick call. I had to report for duty or be charged for destruction of government property. We had been taking shots for typhoid, Jap B, typhus, tetanus and cholera. I got a letter from Warren and our cousin Oscar liked the Army and his time in Germany. We were sure to leave on the attack any day now.

Day 326 – Wednesday 16 May 1951

Some heavy rain fell during the night and well into the morning. The sun came out and the humidity made it very miserable. Some of my men’s foxholes caved in and they had to dig the dirt out of the hole or dig a new hole. I put Barbasol shaving cream on my chest and back to protect the blisters. Some artillery fired on a distant hill. We had little activity in our sector.

Day 327 – Thursday 17 May 1951

There was less rain, though it rained in the afternoons, which was better as it took the humidity out. If it rained in the morning and the sun came out, it was very uncomfortable with the high humidity. The rumor was that we were going on the attack up the highway from Seoul to the Iron Triangle area in Central Korea. We needed to be doing something. I got a letter from Warren.

Day 328 – Friday 18 May 1951

We got orders to start packing up, so we had to return all of our ammunition and grenades except a combat load of ammunition. There were a lot of things to carry to an assembly area where we loaded them on trucks. The sun and humidity were no help.

Day 329 – Saturday 19 May 1951

We moved out of our position. Light rain fell and it was cloudy with very little sunshine. It was easy going with no resistance from the enemy. In a day or so after taking some of the slack out, we would most likely encounter some skeleton units that would be easy to deal with. We just had to wait and see. We dug in for the night. I took first turn at guard.

Day 330 – Sunday 20 May 1951

We moved out just as the sun moved out with us for perhaps a long day. There was some rain and the ground was damp. We did not encounter any enemy, but some units adjacent to us had small firefights as we reached our objectives. We knew this route rather well. This was the main route the enemy took on June 25, 1950. We dug in for the night.

Day 331 – Monday 21 May 1951

We were up before morning light to eat and collect any ammunition we might need. We were on the job as the sun arose. We encountered our first contact with a small Chinese delaying force. After a brief skirmish they melted away. The day was about to draw the curtain on any available light, so we dug in for the night not far from a few houses some 200 or 300 yards in front of us. Richard "Hank" Bulger said he and two other GIs were going up to the village to look for rice bags and rice straw to line our foxholes to keep us off the damp ground. I started digging our fox hole. Someone mentioned that some men were approaching us from the village. I said it was Hank and two GIs looking for rice bags. He said it looked like they got something besides rice sacks. I studied them for a few minutes and thought Hank was either ill or had found something to drink and was drunk. I continued digging. When I looked I thought Hank had found his brother or cousin. They were smoking cigarettes and they had their arms around each other’s neck laughing and talking. All had rice bags. When they arrived it was a Chinese officer who was Hank’s next of kin. He was bright and happy, smoking an American cigarette. When they called chow, half of us, Hank, and the Chinese officer left for chow. The Company CP could not believe that Hank had captured a prisoner. The “Chink” went through the chow line with us and joined us on a paddy dike to eat. He said he was tired of fighting and stayed behind in the village so he could be captured. To our surprise, another enemy soldier came out of hiding and joined us for chow and cigarettes. I wondered if Hank would write his father about this because Hank was always in reserve, not on line. He would have to explain. They collected the officer and the other prisoner to take them to battalion. Everyone pitched in to make sure they had a supply of cigarettes.

Day 332 – Tuesday 22 May 1951

Our day started early as we continued up the highway toward the Iron Triangle. We had not taken the slack out of the enemy’s main line of resistance.  Rather, we just engaged some delaying actions of small groups. The mornings were still cool, but warmed up with the sun by noon. It was a rather unremarkable day. We dug in for the night.

Day 333 – Wednesday 23 May 1951

We ate our breakfast chow in the dark, milling around in some confusion and finding what we needed for the day and our C-rations. As usual, we were moving out just as the rim of the sun was jutting over the distant hill. We never knew what the day would portend, for better or worse. The Turks were on our left flank. By midmorning we had advanced to a large elongated hill. Plans had changed so as to gain time. Instead of taking the hill as we normally did, two tanks and infantry teams were to go down each side of the hill--the Turks on the left side of the hill and our company on the right side of the hill. We were to run alongside of the tanks for protection from enemy rifle fire. The tanks were to fire on bunkers or likely enemy positions with their coaxial machine gun to get the range, then fire the 76mm round from the tank gun into the bunker or position. Once we started, A Company traversed the length of the top of the hill to make sure it was clear of the enemy. We were to link up with the Turks at the far end of the hill.

We encountered little, if any, fire from the enemy, but it was a very noisy situation. We arrived at the far end without incident. The tanks lined up and some of the tankers dismounted. We talked to the men of the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. One driver close to us did not dismount, but was out of the hatch sitting in front of the coaxial machine gun enjoying the sun's warm rays. Suddenly there was a muffled shot. The coaxial had not been cleared and the hot chamber from firing set the round in the chamber off, hitting the driver in the back. They struggled to get him down and shouted for a medic, who came running to attend to him. But it was in vain as the driver slipped away. What a painful thing to witness. The driver was to rotate back to the States in a day or two. The Turks arrived and wanted to wrestle some of the men in good sport. We moved on to our objective, taking it later in the day. We dug in for the night.

Day 334 – Thursday 24 May 1951

The routine was about the same when moving forward. It included eating our breakfast chow, filling our canteens at a local well, visiting the ammunition trailer attached to a Jeep in the dark, and having everything assembled and ready to move out at the shout just as the sun came to work. I had to check all the men in my squad as some were slow and needed help from a buddy. I stressed the point that when we moved out they had better be ready or perhaps be left behind to be found by Captain Pannell, our Company Commander. There was not much to write home about; the last letter I wrote was about the 15th. We arrived at our objective in the dark, ate in the dark, and dug our residence in the dark.

Day 335 – Friday 25 May 1951

"It was the same old six and seven"--whatever that meant. It was another day starting before sunrise, but we were hopeful it would end before sunset. We were on duty or call 24/7, and the overtime pay was great. I think lack of sleep was the greatest drain on us physically. Seeing the death of the tank driver also took a toll on one. I had ridden on tanks in front of the coaxial many times. It was a prime seat on a tank and often it was taken first by other men. That scene would linger with us for a few days and I supposed we would now shun the prime seat like the plague after seeing the death of the tank driver. We dug in for the night.

Day 336 – Saturday 26 May 1951

My foxhole buddy awakened me to a wet, rainy morning by reciting a bit of WWII lyrics, “This is the Army Mr. Jones, no private room or telephones, you have had your breakfast in bed before, but you won’t have it there anymore.” How true. For a change we had hot chow this morning. Going through the chow line we got our food and sought to keep the rain off our food by bending over it as we ate it, but the rain and the rain dropping off our helmets found its way to our food in the mess gear, turning it into soggy soup which by then was lukewarm and hard to stomach. But we had to eat to live, and we lived to eat. Scott should have been singing one of his songs which was so applicable to the current ordeal: “There’s no sun up in the sky.  Stormy weather.” We moved out with our wet clothing and soggy socks and muddy boots, hoping that by nightfall our body heat would dry our clothes out. Reaching our objective late in the day, we dug in for the night. Our feet were still sloshing around inside of our socks inside our boots. Parts of my clothing were dry. My foxhole buddy said we were 50/50–take your choice. He took first turn at guard.

Day 337 – Sunday 27 May 1951

We were up early to a dull and drab day with no sign of the sun. We moved out several miles before stopping in a small, quaint hamlet at the base of a hill some distance from the road. Our platoon drew the assignment of taking the hill just above the hamlet. We had to wait for a unit of the Princess Pat (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) Regiment to secure their objective to our right. We understood that this was the first combat operation the unit had participated in. They had made several attempts all afternoon, but to no avail. Just as the day was drawing to a close, they obtained their objective. We were surprised that they ordered us to take the hill, as it was almost dark.

We mounted the attack. There was not much opposition except one machine gunner was firing down at the platoon.  It was not effective. The enemy must have had some untried troops defending the hill. We secured the hill in less than an hour. We took three prisoners. We started digging in for the night. They brought chow up. I sent half of my squad to chow with Hank, my Assistant Squad Leader. When they returned I took the rest of the squad to chow along the ridge in the dark. Arriving at the mess point, I asked the mess sergeant where the mess gears were. He said, "In the box."  I found the box and felt around for a mess gear. What I found when I put my hand in the box was mess gears that had leftover food of mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and puddles of rain water. I shouted at the mess sergeant, asking where the clean mess gears were. He shouted, "In the box."  I grabbed a mess gear, slapped it against the box to knock some of the food out of the mess gear, and told the new replacements what to do. They declined to eat out of a dirty mess gear that other GIs had eaten out of without being washed. I went through the chow line, but did not know what they put in the mess gear. I took my GI spoon out of my pocket, spit on it, wiped it on my fatigue clothing, and started eating. I felt the three by three by two inch square of the common chocolate cake we ate so often as our dessert. I held it in my hand until I finished eating and put the mess gear back in the box. I was able to persuade the new replacements to take a piece of cake. Living to eat, eating to live.  Then it was back to our positions to continue our digging.

Day 338 – Monday 28 May 1951

We were up shortly after dawn. The left-over weather of the past few days lingered on to complicate our joy of living out in the open seven days a week twenty-four hours a day. The more we advanced, the hills became more mountainous. Someone heard a rumor that we might go in reserve in the next few days. I still thought about the tragic event of a few days ago when the young tank driver was killed by the coaxial machine gun spent round. Even though we were careful, things did happen over which we had no control. It was a light day. We had slowed down, perhaps waiting for units on our flanks to take their objectives.  We dug in early.

Day 339 – Tuesday 29 May 1951

We were up early to continue our march toward the Iron Triangle. We heard conflicting reports that the Truman administration was seeking a policy of a negotiated ceasefire and political solution to end the fighting. There was much confusion about the prosecution of the war. Who were we? We just did the fighting. We were never considered. We just dug in again and again.

Day 340 – Wednesday 30 May 1951

We were up again to a wet and damp day. Later the sun was a help in drying our clothing. It was Dad’s birthday, but I did not have the time or materials with which to write. I kept one of the empty accessorized packs to carry items that I wanted to keep dry. My billfold that was sent by Mom back in December had been soaked a time or two. The dye in the leather discolored some dollar bills. Warren was with the wire communication section of the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment in Europe and had the luxury of a vehicle to stow his souvenirs. Another day of light resistance.

Day 341 – Thursday 31 May 1951

We were still moving forward toward our objectives. They had many phase lines and operations such as Detonate and Pile Driver. The 3rd Infantry Division was on our left flank and the 7th Division on our right, but we had not had any contact with them. The weather was about the same with showers on and off during the day. We were advancing up toward the Iron Triangle, consisting of Chorwon in the west, Kumhwa in the east, and Pyongyang in the north. Another day concluded. Now was the time to dig in for the night.

Day 342 – Friday 01 June 1951

Once more we were moving up to our phase line. The phase line did not mean much to the men in a rifle platoon, but to the military planners it must have meant a lot as to how we were to prosecute the war.  Our safety depended on not firing or being fired upon by friendly troops.

We had trouble with two new replacements.  One boy was Absent Without Leave (AWOL) from our company, along with another GI.  He was caught by the MPs and then put in my squad. He had a poor attitude, and according to my estimation, was unfit for service in a rifle platoon. Captain Pannell found that another of the new replacements in my squad had stayed behind in the hamlet a few days ago instead of joining the attack with my squad. He threatened him for not attacking the hill.  The replacement had told some of the members of my squad that his uncle in WWII had shot himself in the foot. He was a problem that I would have to deal with. Once more we move into an area and dig in for the night.

Day 343 – Saturday 02 June 1951

To our surprise, we did not move out as for the past several days. The rumor came true that we were to go into regimental reserve. We could use the time to enjoy the break in the weather with the return of broken clouds, blue skies and our absent visitor the past few days. We were taken by trucks to an area some distance away because there it was very desolate. We would enjoy hot chow three times a day and a bit more sleep. We would not be digging in.

Day 344 – Sunday 03 June 1951

We got a few extra minutes of sleep and hot chow for a change instead of C-rations. I went to chapel service and picked up a few tracts and a booklet. I discussed with Hank the two new replacements. The one who had been AWOL was with another GI who had come over with the company from Japan in July 1950. He was still at large.  He spoke Japanese fluently and if he got back to Japan they would never capture him. The one they caught and put in my squad was waiting to be court-marshaled. Why they put him in my squad was not their problem.  The problem was mine.

Day 345 – Monday 04 June 1951

Rain was threatening at daybreak as we went to morning chow. It was a bit cooler, but it would warm up by noon. We had been in reserve for just two days when someone in the chow line said that he heard a rumor that we were going back on line. I would have liked to have discounted such a rumor, but a rumor like that had a tendency to come true. Shortly after noon chow we were assembled and the rumor became a fact.  We were going to relieve the Deuce Four Regiment on Hill 1046. Late in the afternoon trucks arrived to take us to our destination. We took up positions behind the 27th Infantry Regiment. We did not dig in as we would be leaving early the next morning.

Day 346 – Tuesday 05 June 1951

We ate our breakfast chow in the rain. Trucks arrived to take us to a point where we dismounted at the base of Hill 1046. Captain Pannell led the way to a trail that led to the positions on Hill 1046. The going was slippery from the rain, and the terrain was steep and rugged. Halfway up we took a break. The Deuce Four had withdrawn off of Hill 1046 early that morning. Their positions were helter-skelter in arrangement, and small items of equipment, ammunition, and even some C-rations were left behind. We were assigned positions and started digging in. The rain showers continued, and fog filled the ravines and drifted over the higher elevation at times. It was nice and warm, but wet. A firefight had been in progress in the valley since midmorning.

Sergeant Pretzer was called to the CP.  When he returned he assembled the squad leaders and informed us that an order had come down from regiment for a platoon to attack down the ridge to the right flank in hopes it would help relieve the pressure of the attacking force in the valley. We were the chosen platoon. He said that in times past we had picked a number, cut cards, and drawn straws to see who would have the lead squad.  But this time he informed me that I had the lead squad as I had won so many times in the past at winning the PX ration or watch for my squad.

We quickly returned to our position and I explained to my squad the situation.  I then explained to the two scouts that, as we approached the enemy’s flank, A Company’s machine guns on a ridge to our left would place fire on the enemy.  I told them not to get excited, but to proceed with great caution, as we would be getting close to the enemy. I had several new replacements and wanted to make them aware of our strategy. I was to be the third man in the column right behind the two scouts. Once we made contact with the enemy, I would direct the action of the squad as events unfolded.

Each assault was different. The fog could be a factor. Sergeant Pretzer gave the order to move out. He took his position in the column right behind my squad. I hated every step we took--not because the hill was steep and slippery, but because we would have to trek back up the hill after we engaged the enemy. I was very much concerned as we moved down the hill in and out of the fog that floated across the ridge out of the ravines. When the machine gun from A Company opened up, my two scouts were filled with fright and rushed toward each other. I quickly ran to them and spoke to them in a low tone, explaining that it was friendly fire.   We could encounter the enemy in another hundred yards. I cautioned them to move quietly so as to take the enemy by surprise, but I had a feeling deep down inside that the enemy was ready to greet us.

They cautiously continued down the hill.  When the enemy opened up, my two scouts took cover. I rushed forward and we crossed another rise to get the two in position. I motioned for the rest of the squad to move down. I put Paul Kaufman with his BAR in position as the volume of fire picked up in both directions. With most of my squad returning fire, Sergeant Pretzer joined us to evaluate the situation. We discussed the situation. I ran back across the hump to get the remaining members of my squad in firing position and move another squad down to join the firefight. I was accompanied by the whiz of bullets as they split the air and slammed into the earth.

Sergeant Pretzer ran across the hump to join me. He said that a slope head had gotten him. Though he looked quite normal, I could tell that he was not the Pretzer that I knew. He sat down on the ground and for the first time I could see where a bullet had exited from his pack strap between his upper arm and his neck. The bullet hit him in the back and had either travelled on its trajectory path, hitting him in the lower part of his ribcage in the back and exiting through his pack strap, or it had entered his ribcage, ricocheted off of a rib, and exited out of his ribcage. I could see a little blood on the edge of his mouth.

The radio man came down and Pretzer got on the phone to Captain Pannell. I spoke briefly to Captain Pannell, who told me to withdraw bringing our wounded and equipment. The firefight was still in full progress. Out of the fog and a ravine, a figure came toward us. At first I thought the enemy had moved up on both sides of the ridge to cut us off. I started to drop him, but saw that it was Paul Kaufman shot through the forearm and through the lower jaw. Another BAR Man came across the hump.  He said that he was hit as well. I yanked his shirt up and saw that a bullet had just grazed his back, leaving a long shallow scrape.  He was delighted to be wounded. The medic examined Pretzer. We got a litter down, strapped Pretzer on it, and started up the steep hill. Kenner White moved slowly up the hill and a bullet hit him underneath his heel knocking his heel up, but he did not quicken his pace. I helped Paul, as he had lost some blood and was not altogether himself.

The firing became sporadic. We moved up the hill. Some of the men had reached our position when I arrived. I told Captain Pannell that the going was slow in bringing Pretzer up. He told me to take the rest of the men of our platoon back down to give any help needed. I told the men we were going back down to help out. We had only gone about 100 yards when I heard a shot a distance behind me. At first I thought the enemy had moved up the ridge to attack us, but it was the new replacement Captain Pannell had caught loafing around in a village rather than joining us in attacking a hill some days ago.  I left two men with him and we went down and met the rest of the platoon. They were just taking their time.

We made it back on top of the hill with all of our equipment. The wounded were treated and started off the hill. We still got some rain. Sergeant Pretzer was out after a shot of morphine. Tadashi took over the platoon as Platoon Sergeant. We were tired having to climb that mountain for the second time. B and C Companies were the only units on Hill 1046 and A Company was in reserve. We went to our holes at dark for a night's rest.  We were tired and wet.

Day 347 – Wednesday 06 June 1951

My foxhole buddy gave me a shake to pull the last guard before daylight. All was quiet except for occasional outgoing mail and the water dropping off of the few trees that remained. We strung up our ponchos to catch the rain and poured the water into our canteens. We did not screen out the bits of bark or lichen because by overflowing the canteen, the bits would flow out and down over the side of the canteen. Our breakfast consisted of C-rations.

B Company commenced the attack along the ridge toward the final objective--Hill 1046. We passed through B Company about noon to take several more peaks to the top of 1046. The 2nd and 3rd Platoons led the attack. The 1st Platoon was in reserve.  If we were committed to battle, at least the third squad should be the last to be committed. The top of the hill had lost most of its trees and vegetation due to artillery shells.

Our medic took or purchased the camera from the boy who shot himself in the foot. He took a lot of pictures of the 1st Platoon as we loafed around on the safe side of the hill.  At times we were blasted by mortar and artillery fire. A few prisoners had been taken and some were wounded. They were treated as if they were GIs. There was a constant flow of wounded from our 2nd and 3rd Platoons. The day was spent in small groups with the usual conversation. The medic found a small spring that issued out of the hillside. The Chinese had dug out a little reservoir to collect the water. The medic and several men took our canteens and filled them with water.

The 2nd Platoon crossed a saddle to attack the hill.  The enemy had positioned themselves on either side of the ridge a distance from the top. Once the platoon was stretched out along the saddle, they were caught in a crossfire as well as frontal fire on the hill. The underbrush and what was left of the trees made the situation complicated for both sides. The weather did not allow for air strikes. We could only get artillery, our 60mm and D Company's 81mm mortar fire.

As the day began to close, the heat of the battle did not diminish for the conquest of Hill 1046. The 1st Platoon was still in reserve and waiting on the reverse side of the hill to go into action. Captain Pannell might have had some reservations about putting us into the battle, having been shot up slightly, but we were without a Platoon Sergeant. As the day yielded to darkness, the order was sent out to occupy or dig in where we were. We took over the bunkers that the Chinese had dug, as well as the connective trenches, to form a better defense position. A few holes had to be dug.  We got a few enemy mortar shells coming in. One exploded almost between Stehley's legs.  To say the least, it wounded him severely, but he was uncomplaining.

The firefight continued well into the night with machine guns barking and the rattle of small arms. The remaining crest of Hill 1046 was blasted with our own artillery, which was too close for our safety and comfort. As I took over a bunker, I rolled two dead “Chinks” out of their home. I cleared out a supply of grenades, throwing them over the hill.  They smoked, then exploded. In the last rays of light my eye caught a little white object.  When I took it out into better light, I found that it was a small cross carved of soap. The dead Chinese soldier perhaps had heard the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and had his thoughts of being with Him. His contest had ended.

The rain ceased and the day was warm. We were tired. Though my position was not facing the enemy in the perimeter, the enemy could strike from anywhere. I kept reminding myself of this, as my helmet fell off of my head as I dozed off to sleep while sitting on the edge of the bunker. I retrieved the helmet and put it back on my head, only to have it fall off again and give me a wakeup call.

Day 348 – Thursday 07 June 1951

The dawn revealed a stark landscape. Most of the trees had been destroyed. All was quiet and the enemy had vacated Hill 1046. The rain had slacked off. A lot of dead Chinese soldiers covered the ridge. Some of the GIs searched them for souvenirs, but, like most soldiers, they had very little of this world’s goods.  One did have a nice pocket watch. I did not search any of them as I thought it was not a very professional thing to do, but I did not object to others who did.  We learned that the wounded that were evacuated had a long trip down the hill. Pretzer did not make it to the battalion aid station until three or four in the morning some seven or eight hours after he was wounded.

The Turks came up to relieve us. One of the Turks was pulling a Korean farmer’s oxen which was loaded with mortar ammunition. I think it would have been easier to carry the ammo; the oxen just added an extra burden. One of the Turks kicked an unexploded hand grenade.  It went off, wounding him and two other GIs. We could not talk with the Turks, as most of them could not speak English.

We made our way off of the hill late in the afternoon. We ate our first hot meal in a creek bed--our first hot meal since climbing Hill 1046. We loaded on trucks and were taken to our new area. We pitched pup tents before dark. Some of us did not have to pull guard.

Day 349 – Friday 08 June 1951

We were glad to be off Hill 1046 for more reasons than one. First of all, it was a bad place to do business with all the trees mangled by artillery and mortar fire. Their twisted branches and trunks presented a bit of an obstacle--both for us and the enemy, in throwing grenades, firing, and assaulting their positions. While climbing Hill 1046 was very taxing physically, the descent down was hard on the toes trying to push the end out of our boots.

We were back in reserve where we should have been in the first place. The Deuce Four could and should have taken and held Hill 1046. That was the consensus expressed by most men in the company. I must admit that the rain was annoying to us as well as the enemy. In a fortnight we would get over it.

Day 350 – Saturday 09 June 1951

We were located on some small hills with a shallow stream flowing, twisting, and turning through the area. There were but a few scattered houses in the area. We did not want to take up residence in them for fear that we might be infested with lice again and have to be dusted with DDT to rid ourselves of lice. The weather was beautiful.

Two small Korean boys were in the area. We saw them quite often. One of them had a cotton rag twisted up that formed a bulge which they were licking. They had robbed some bees and were eating the honey. There were no other Koreans in the area. They had to forage the area for anything suitable to eat. I was curious as to how they had robbed the bees without getting stung. We gave them some food from our chow line. A member of our platoon, a new replacement, got a box of candy from his brother stationed in Japan. It was a very beautiful display of candy and it was at least three layers deep. We tried to persuade him to open it, but had had no success so far. I wrote a letter to Dad. We were still in North Korea.

Day 351 – Sunday 10 June 1951

We still appreciated the sun, but some days it was very oppressive not only to us, but also to our foes. Some of us attended chapel service. There was no building suitable for services, so the service was held out of doors. Will I get to go on rest leave tomorrow for five days in Japan as reported?

We finally prevailed to convince the new replacement to open the candy. I had a hard time deciding which piece to take since it was all so beautiful. I hated to bite into it, but once I did I was surprised that it was not sweet and it had no flavor.  It felt like sawdust in my mouth, and the box was not three layers as was supposed. Thankfully it only had one layer that had to be eaten.


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R&R in Japan

Day 352 – Monday 11 June 1951

Up early in the morning. I was called to the Company CP, along with three other men from the company with whom I was not very well acquainted. We were taken by truck to Kimpo Airfield, where we were issued parachutes to be put on and boarded a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) plane bound for Tachikawa Air Force Base near Tokyo. The flight was most interesting seeing all the foxholes and trenches that had been dug on the mountainsides. We landed at Tachikawa and were taken by bus to the area set aside for Rest and Recuperation (R&R). We took a shower and were given clean clothes consisting of a khaki shirt and pants that were starched stiff, socks, and underwear. Our boots were cleaned. As I was dressing, a GI wanted to know if Charles Scott was there. I spoke up. He inquired about a boy in our company. I said he was in our platoon. It was his brother who had been shot in the knee running from the shacks to the dike. He was later picked up by a tank company and a ranger patrol. I gave him what information I could. They gave us advanced pay so we could buy things.

Day 353 – Tuesday 12 June 1951

Up early in the morning. We had excellent hot chow three times a day.  Although we did not have to come back to the facility to eat, they stressed not to eat in any food establishment unless it was approved by Eighth Army. We were not to go into any parts of Tokyo that were off limits.  If we did so we would be picked up by the MPs. There was much to do and see in Tokyo.

Scroggins was from D Company and came over with the 35th in July 1950 from Otsu, Japan, where he had been stationed. He had a limited knowledge of Japanese and I only knew a few words and phrases. We met a boy from the 25th Division who was on R&R with his sister. He had a picture taken of us by a Japanese photographer who developed the negatives and made prints. He gave me a print of the four of us. I do not recall the name of the boy or his sister. His father was stationed with the Army in Japan. I went back to the R&R center for the evening. If R&R for me had occurred about ten days earlier when we were on Hill 1046, I would have escaped the fighting, the terrain, and the rotten weather.

Day 354 – Wednesday 13 June 1951

I stayed up late last night. A lot of GIs at the R&R center were from different divisions. After morning chow I went to Tokyo Army Hospital and visited our Platoon Sergeant, Master Sergeant Pretzer, who was recovering from his chest wound received on Hill 1046. He was in good spirits. He would be shipping out stateside in a few days. He gave me a list of men who owed him money. It was rather a long list of names; mostly enlisted men and one officer. I now understood why he paid his way from Germany to serve with his old outfit in WWII. I read the account in the Stars and Stripes while I was in the Tokyo Army Hospital Annex waiting to return to the 1st Platoon. He said I could have the Zenith radio that was in a Jeep. He was from the Bay area in California and had called his father to have a brand-new Buick when he arrived Stateside. I was glad that he was recovering from his wound. I went to Ward 2C to see the room I was in for 45 days in October and November 1950.

Day 355 – Thursday 14 June 1951

After breakfast chow we set out for Ginza Avenue to purchase some gifts. I purchased a box made of wood. To open the box one had to slide parts of the box different ways. The one I purchased had a drawer that was concealed that slid out with a chime. I purchased an electric shaver for Dad, a jacket for Mike, a pair of pajamas and bedroom slippers for Sis, and a large black lacquered salad bowl with large lacquered fork and spoon for Mom. The bowl had an inlay of Mount Fuji as part of the decoration. Back at the R&R center they wrapped the items I had purchased and mailed them home. The gal wanted to see inside the trick box.  I opened the box, but did not show the part where I had put the old Korean money.

The week passed by ever so quickly. I purchased a telecamera that looked like a pair of binoculars but had a telephoto lens set between the two other lenses. I got a carrying case, six rolls of film, and filters for $14.00. The brochure made it look impressive, but all in all it was cheap.

Day 356 – Friday 15 June 1951

We stayed up late last night and did not pay any attention to when or if the sun came up. There we were less dependent of the sun with all the amenities we could ask for compared to life in a rifle platoon. After visiting a lot of places and ready to depart, we had some Japanese Yen left over that we would not be able to spend when back in Korea. We considered several plans and we opted for the one that seemed the best. We decided to pool our money and hail a cab for a sightseeing trip.  We figured that the cab driver could show us around and serve as a tour guide if he could speak English or broken English.

We had passed several shrines, buildings, and some embassies when Scroggins sighted the Russian Embassy. He told the cab driver to pull over and stop in front of the entrance, which had stone guard shacks on either side. The guard eyed us with some suspicion. Scroggins dropped to a lower profile as though he was readying a weapon on an explosive device and glanced at the guard as though he was looking for an opportune time to act. The guard was rather curious.  I kept up the act, pretending that I was handing Scroggins something. The guard quickly made a departure into the stone guard shack. We discussed what the guard might be considering--perhaps a phone call?  If so, we thought that we had better leave in a hurry. Scroggins called to the cab driver and shouted, “Sugiru, hayaku” (leave, hurry). We visited a few more sights and returned to the R&R center. We thanked him. He returned, “Arigato” (thank you).


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Back to Combat Fatigues

Day 357 – Saturday 16 June 1951

We were up early to change from our Class A uniforms to combat fatigues. We had enjoyed having a hot shower each day and three hot meals a day. Our fatigue clothing had been washed, starched, and ironed. We boarded our plane (a C-54) at Tachikawa Air Force Base for our four-hour flight back to Kimpo Airfield, not far from Seoul. Most of the men were carrying unmarked boxes on their shoulder. Most everyone not in the know thought they were televisions or radios. All the boxes were uniform. What was actually in the boxes was twelve bottles of whiskey they were carrying back to the company officers and NCOs. I suppose that the boxes were unmarked to conceal the fact that what was inside was most likely against Army or military regulation.

We loaded on trucks to take us to our units. It was getting dark when I made it to the 1st Platoon. Vaughn gave me a sheet of paper which read:

"Special Orders Number 50. Extract 13 June 1951. 13 PAC SR 615-5-1 and Msg GHQ FEC ZX 13479 dtd 15 Aug 50 -  The fol named EM orgns indicated are promoted to gr indicated. MOS shown is hereby announced as Primary. SGT (E-5) (Temporary) CPL Charles C Scott RA13328908 1745 Co C by order of Colonel Kelleher, Richard F Heske, Major, 35th Infantry Adjutant."

I was glad to be back with the 1st Platoon.

Day 358 – Sunday 17 June 1951

We noticed our increased appreciation for the sun and how we felt more secure with its rising.  But most of all, it took the chill of the night air out of our bones. We had several new replacements in the platoon. There was a rumor floating around that we were going into I Corps reserve. The 25th Infantry Division had the most combat time of any American division. The chaplain was in the area, so several of us attended the chapel service in the afternoon.

Day 359 – Monday 18 June 1951

The sun was up to greet us. Though we were off the line, there were many possibilities of being attacked by a small guerilla group--but not like the threat we had faced in the Pusan Perimeter with our backs to the wall. In the Perimeter we had unit-sized guerillas organized to create havoc in rear areas.

We left for our training. We thought it was quite foolish for us to train, but for the new replacements it would prove helpful. I contacted the men who owed Pretzer money and gave them his address. I wished he was back with us. Tadashi was filling in as a Platoon Sergeant until we got one.

Day 360 – Tuesday 19 June 1951

We were up early with the sun. After chow we were sorted out from the new replacements and left to an area involved in a study that was being conducted to find out what made a good combat soldier. Three regiments with an excellent combat record, low casualty rate, highly disciplined, and the administration of each regiment were selected. Our 35th Infantry Regiment, and I believe the 19th and 21st Regiments of the 24th Infantry Division, were selected to participate in the study. We spent the morning doing the written part of the study, answering the multiple choice questions. I believe the first part was psychological because, as I recall, one of the questions was about what annoyed us most.  There were four multiple choice answers. I selected one of the four choices for the answer. At noon chow we discussed the morning test. We all agreed that the answer to this question had no correct answer. What annoyed us most was the fact we had to participate in the study.

Day 361 – Wednesday 20 June 1951

The routine continued about the same. We ate our morning chow and it was another morning answering questions. They could not get very reliable results. We had been answering a large bank of questions when someone inquired about the time. We were told that noon chow would be served in about thirty minutes. I was not the only slow reader of the questions. I looked at how many more questions I had to answer and the amount of time remaining until we ate chow, realizing that the number of questions exceeded the amount of time. So, like any good soldier, we just marked any random answer on the sheet, trusting that some of the answers would be right.  We then left for chow. The afternoon was spent in lectures with the new replacements. I guess it was important to review information with the new replacements that they might or might not have had in Basic Training.

Day 362 – Thursday 21 June 1951

We enjoyed hot chow three times a day. The cooks did an excellent job preparing food whether we were on line or in reserve. The survey and study group finished two days of study in our area. The next week we were to again be involved in more activities. We continued our training with the new replacements.

Day 363 – Friday 22 June 1951

Life off the line had its advantages: hot meals three times a day, more sleep, and less stringing of barbwire and digging foxholes. Being off line we had lessons at night on compass and map reading in the dark.  It was a very challenging learning situation. No doubt it would be helpful in night fighting, setting up an ambush after dark to fire on the enemy, and going out on a combat patrol to capture an enemy soldier at night for interrogation. All of it required much thoughtful planning and execution.

Day 364 – Saturday 23 June 1951

We continued our problems at night of map reading. We were divided in groups of three or four men and assigned a course to follow with compass and map.  It was similar to what I had in Basic Training and in Leadership School, but that was in the daytime. At night one had to be more alert and exacting. My squad seemed to be above average, but not all had been in combat.

Day 365 – Sunday 24 June 1951

The sun had been very cooperative the past few days with pleasant weather. The chaplain was here and had service during the afternoon. Our fourth squad needed an ammo bearer. I had a man that they needed. I did not trust him to be in my foxhole--or any foxhole.  He was reluctant to follow orders and shirked his duty. I did not want him in my assault squad. Some of us attended chapel service in the afternoon.

Day 366 – Monday 25 June 1951

The sun rose with a vengeance. I spoke too early as to the nice weather we were enjoying. We had not had rain for the past few days and the heat reminded me of days in the Pusan Perimeter. Rotation seemed to have slowed down some. My turn could not be too far in the future. I supposed they had the date I entered the 1st Platoon of C Company. We continued our night training.

Day 367 – Tuesday 26 June 1951

It was another day in The Land of the Morning Calm to swelter in the unbearable heat of the sun. We were still training, as well as keeping in shape. We had our day with the research group that was trying to determine what made a good combat soldier. We had to lift a sack filled with sand that weighed 25 pounds--pick the sack up from the ground, hold it above our head, return it to the ground, and repeat the action as many times as we could. We had to look in a box that had two small vehicles which we had to align up opposite each other. We also had to identify an object in the box with different amounts of ambient light. Those were challenging but fun to do. We had good to excellent visual acuity.

Day 368 – Wednesday 27 June 1951

After morning chow we went to another session of the research study. This session was different and dealt with the individuals within the platoon. They used small index size cards with the names of each member of the platoon written on a card. We were to evaluate each member of the platoon as to certain personal qualities. For instance, if the platoon was under attack, who would we want in our foxhole? Who would we trust the most? I mentioned Wilburn Vaughn, though we had never shared a foxhole together. The interviewer put the cards in the small box. We had to sort each man out as to who we trusted most to least. There were about five categories in all. I found it rather easy to list the men from desirable to undesirable on both ends, but the middle was harder to assess. I would have liked to have seen the end result of the platoon’s study.

Day 369 – Thursday 28 June 1951

It was up early for the training session for both enlisted men and officers. Our Platoon Leader, John Hayduk, was transferred to 1st Battalion Headquarters Company as Pioneer & Ammunition (P&A) Platoon Leader. He was an intelligent person, but he did not have the leadership skills necessary for infantry.  That might have accounted for his being in the military police though assigned an infantry MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) when infantry platoon leaders were in high demand.

I studied the men in my squad. There were five Regular Army (RA), including myself, and six draftees (US). I determined that I would lean toward selecting an RA to be the assistant squad leader when I rotated. Some impressed me, but only one stood out to be an assistant squad leader to Hank and then to be squad leader when Hank rotated. I discussed the matter with Hank and he was of the same mind that Clarence Weber would be his choice. He was soft-spoken, but spoke well, possessed leadership potential, was intelligent and well-liked by all members of the squad, mature in his thinking and judgment, and communicated well.  If he performed well in combat, he would be a candidate for a battlefield commission.

Day 370 – Friday 29 June 1951

Our routine was about the same. Each morning we arose with the sun. We continued to train on various problems. We were to take a hill dry run, then later a wet run. Each of the assault squads had to plan and execute the plan. Our squad was one of the last to do the exercise. We still had intensive instruction on basic combat fundamentals. The month was drawing to a close.

Day 371 – Saturday 30 June 1951

No mention or rumors when we would go back on line. I think the training was a change of tactics and operations for when we went back on line. We would employ a new strategy in dealing with a truce line, each side jockeying for the advantage. It was becoming a war of words with political and military dissonance. In the Pusan Perimeter there was no time for this with our backs to the wall. We had an inspection during the day.

Day 372 – Sunday 01 July 1951

It was rather a light, relaxed day being Sunday. On line every day was alike, but if in a defending position they cut us some slack.  If wire had to be strung, we had to dig, or had to set booby traps to enhance the position, it was business as usual. Some of us went to chapel service. Often the chaplain did not have a spiritual message, but gave one much like a Troop Information & Education (TI&E) talk. We were rather relaxed there, so we had more time to talk to our new replacements. I felt for them as a squad leader and wondered if they would see their tour of duty end alive or be cut short as a KIA. All of the US men were older than I was. Donald "Cookie" Laidley was the youngest man in my squad. He might have been eighteen years old.

Day 373 – Monday 02 July 1951

We were up early, but not before the sun.  It was another hot, grueling day for man--we who were in training, and for beast--in an occasional field, ploughing and tilling the soil, to endure. I was more convinced than ever that this training was the avant-garde of tactics in prosecuting this and future wars. We had been operating on the WWII model which had been successful in the past. I supposed that the 35th Infantry would be first to test and implement this new approach to warfare. We discussed this at length in our late evening sessions before dark. Some thought it was training for Vietnam. The French were being beaten up and some of us in our platoon talked about going to Vietnam as mercenaries.

Day 374 – Tuesday 03 July 1951

Another day of training, but rumors had it that we were to have a parade on the Fourth to celebrate the nation’s birthday and another parade on July 8 for the 35th birthday of The Cacti Regiment. Some few men were selected to be on a drill team practicing, as well as a color guard for the parade. We did not spend but half a day in training or lecture for the new replacements. The rumor also said we would have the day off on the Fourth of July and July 8.

Day 375 – Wednesday 04 July 1951

We spent the morning training. They had an exceptional noon chow menu. We had the parade, then entertainment by the drill team, which did an excellent performance for the amount of time they had to practice. Some of the men may have been on a drill team in garrison. It was an enjoyable day and a break from the ordinary routine. I was not sure how well we performed in staying in step, as we had not had any close order drill for almost a year.

Day 376 – Thursday 05 July 1951

We continued our morning training with the new replacements. The quality of basic training they received was not consistent from all basic training units. I thought that the basic training that I received at Fort Knox was very good. The Leadership School at Camp Hood (Fort Hood) was excellent.  If one could be prepared for combat, this was the premier school. They had excellent presenters and cadre. We had the afternoon to relax before going to the training area for night operation training. We were glad to return to the area to get a little sleep before starting all over again.

Day 377 – Friday 06 July 1951

The sun was always a welcome visitor until about seven in the morning. But from then on, the heat accumulated rapidly and by midday until the sun’s departure it was hard to put up with, but we endured. The CO called me over to the CP and told me he had put me in for Sergeant First Class and I should be promoted before I rotated to the States. There were a lot of rumors about the peace talks, perhaps just backroom deals. They expected us to believe this nonsense. We dealt firsthand with the enemy. They were not to be trusted. The routine continued.

Day 378 – Saturday 07 July 1951

How much longer we would be in reserve was not known, not even a rumor. The regiment had been in Korea almost a year now and had seen its share of combat. So far, September 1950 was by far the deadliest in terms of KIAs and WIAs. It was nice to be in reserve, but it could be complete boredom. From what we got as rumors or facts, the line had stabilized about the 38th Parallel--more or less a parameter for a negotiated peace settlement. We continued our mission of training. Morale was good, but we never talked or considered morale as we were too occupied about other things on line. The next day we were to celebrate the regiment’s birthday.

Day 379 – Sunday 08 July 1951

Up early and the sun was there to greet us. We had a formation or so involving training, but were free shortly after midmorning to celebrate the 35th Infantry Regiment’s 35th birthday. George Milanovich gave me a very brief history of the regiment the first week I was in the regiment starting early August in the Pusan Perimeter. The regiment was the first to fire on the Japanese when planes attacked Pearl Harbor. Later it participated at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, Vella La Vella, and the 165-day battle on Luzon during the battle for the Philippines.

We played several games of softball, pitched horseshoes, and enjoyed the excellent meal prepared by the cooks. We had steak, potatoes, peas, carrots, rolls, coffee--and cake and ice cream, believe it or not. I wrote a letter home to Jack. We had a formation to celebrate the regiment’s history and listened to a few short speeches from various officers.

Day 380 – Monday 09 July 1951

We awoke to rain in the morning which put the damper on the extreme heat and humidity at least for a while. Training was suspended for the day and we spent some time caring for and performing maintenance on our equipment. I took some pictures with the camera that I purchased, but they were not very good. Everyone seemed excited about a ceasefire arrangement, but some of us thought it was not a good idea. I thought the regiment’s birthday was July 16, 1916. Why they had it on the 8th instead of the 16th was not known to us, but it might have been that we would be back on line by the 16th.

Day 381 – Tuesday 10 July 1951

We were up early with the sun clearing off the light fog and dampness of the recent rain. We continued training in the morning and night exercises with our squad. There were eleven men in our squad. I tried to evaluate each one in terms of their ability to think and act, maturity, and how they would respond in attacking or under attack. Only three of us, Hank Bulger, Cookie, and I had been in combat. I would put Hank with the BAR team plus one other man. That would leave me six men, a small but maneuverable, effective group in attacking. We continued to discuss the peace talks' pros and cons before turning in for the night.

Day 382 – Wednesday 11 July 1951

The days, weeks, and months rolled on apace. Few of us knew or kept up with the times or the seasons. I tried to and had to note or jot things down when space afforded me the luxury. I made sure all the men in my squad had the equipment they were supposed to have. From the very first day in Korea I made sure I had everything necessary. It was my responsibility. The man I had transferred to the fourth squad as an ammo bearer was undesirable, as they discovered. Each of the machine gun belts in his ammo boxes he carried had been cut in half. He only carried a half box of ammo to make his load lighter. I wonder how the squad leader dealt with him. He was not trustworthy. If we were defending a position and needed ammunition, the machine gun crew could come up short, putting the platoon or company in peril. I was glad that he was no longer in my squad. A rumor had surfaced that we would be going on line soon.

Day 383 – Thursday 12 July 1951

Our visitor was back early this morning, though not so bright due to light fog and humidity. As usual, we were back to training both morning and night. Organization was very important to maintain on a night mission. We had about five new replacements from Colorado. They were alert and seemed to have had association with each other, possibly through basic training. It appeared the new replacements were eager to talk with us after hours as we did to old timers at Fort Hood. I was only 20 years old and was younger than most of the replacements, but to them I was old. Sometimes I felt old. We had a new platoon sergeant, but I did not remember his name.

Day 384 – Friday 13 July 1951

We were up early. The sun was there to greet us to a new day. I suppose the new replacements did not know this was The Land of the Morning Calm, as it was anything but calm early in the morning for them. We only trained until noon. The rumor that surfaced a few days ago was now a fact. We were to be ready to move out first thing in the morning. We had to check everything in that we did not take on line. The radio that Sergeant Pretzer gave me was in my tent. We had not had it on because I could not get batteries for it, so I carried it to the Company CP and put it in a Jeep. The squad could still access it at any time they went off line. I wondered how the many changes of officers and noncoms would affect the disposition of the units. We had had some excellent officers in the 35th Infantry Regiment, especially in the 1st Battalion. The 25th Infantry Division had had a very colorful history since it was formed on 1 October, 1941. We continued our discussion until dark, then went to our tents.

Day 385 – Saturday 14 July 1951

I was up early to greet the sun and then to greet the men of my squad to get packing. It was getting late-- it was four o’clock. We started striking our tents and loaded them on the truck along with other items before going to morning chow. After chow we packed the remaining things that we took with us. My squad was prompt in doing the necessary things, and it made me quite happy not to have to help or have other squad members help those who seemed to not have the ability to tie their shoes, and moved as “slow as the seven year itch.” When the trucks arrived, a few men were still trying to get it all together with things hanging out of their pack.  Some had untied shoes and disheveled clothing.  But my squad was “ready, tidy, and not just a bunch of nobodies” as we boarded trucks that took us to an assembly area behind the 1st Cav. I was justly proud of my squad, and I let them know that they made it the best squad in the 1st Platoon and C Company.

Day 386 – Sunday 15 July 1951

The 35th Infantry Regiment started relieving the 1st Cavalry Division on Line Wyoming located southwest of Chorwon at the left apex of the Iron Triangle. C and A Companies were on line with A Company on C Company’s left flank. My squad was singled out to tie into A Company’s right flank. We occupied six positions, three of which ran along the ridge of the mountain we were on. Hank and I occupied the fourth position that angled slightly with two positions below us down the ridge part-way to the valley below. From our last position it was about 100 yards to a swag where a path led up the ridge for about 150 yards to the first position of our 1st Platoon. I felt we were in a rather precarious situation, but accepted it as my squad was capable for any eventuality that might develop. It was nice of higher echelon to think that of us. The flip side of that might be that we were the weak link in the platoon and to sacrifice us would be no great loss.

A Company in the Pusan Perimeter lost hills and B or C Company had to restore them for A Company--the weakest company in the battalion of the regiment. Colonel Fisher replaced the company commander of A Company with a platoon leader in the Company, Lieutenant Sidney Berry, who turned this company around. A sound power connected our position with the 1st Platoon.

After we got familiarized with our present positions, Hank took half of the squad to evening chow. I worked on our position until Hank and the men returned from chow. I took the remaining members of our squad to chow. They all preceded me through the chow line, as it was a tradition that provided one of the few perks afforded to the lowest ranks. On our return we continued to improve our positions. Just before dark I assembled the squad for some last minute instruction, since over half of the men were on line for the first time. I stressed the point that when a shot was fired in C Company, it was a sure fact that the enemy was present. If someone was certain that it was the enemy, I told them to consider their options. If it was a patrol, it would most likely not be in an attack formation and consist of a few men. Their mission was to determine our position. It was possible and likely that they had observed us during the day from a concealed position nearby. If the enemy was within grenade distance of us and had not thrown a grenade, one might preempt the enemy by throwing a grenade, preserving one's position. If through negligence on someone's part by being asleep and not listening or observing and the enemy was upon them, they deserved to be captured or shot due to their negligence. This game was for keeps. I told them, "When Hank or I visit your position during the night, be alert and don’t shoot us. Any questions? The 64th Field Artillery will be firing intermittently during the night. If one of the shells is a flare, you may want to duck down in your hole so as not to show your shining face."

About eleven o’clock I heard a rifle shot in one of the lower positions, then another shot. The Platoon CP called wanting to know why the shots. I shouted, “What do you see?”  The reply came back, “Nothing.” I told the Platoon CP that the shots were in their imagination, I didn’t hear them. About one o’clock in the morning there was a shot from one of the positions to our right toward A Company. I shouted, “Did you hit him or did he hit you?” The answer came back, “No.” The CP called for an answer. I answered, “Neither the enemy nor my squad member was shot.” The rest of the night was rather peaceful.

Day 387 – Monday 16 July 1951

We were glad to see the sun come up. Being back on line it gave us some assurance. Again we heard the sound of jets on the job as they streaked across the sky interdicting the enemy supply lines and destroying equipment.  But for our needs, the P-51 was the best close combat plane to support infantry.

After breakfast chow I instructed and showed my men how to set trip flares, noise makers, and booby traps out in front of our positions. The company had received some enlisted reservists as replacements. They were much older and might have served in WWII, and most likely had earned their rank in peacetime. I hoped that if they had gotten their rank in peacetime and did not have combat experience they would not put them in as a rifle platoon sergeant or squad leader. From what I gleaned from others, the ERs were not too happy to be here.

We learned that General Ira P Swift, our new Division Commander, replaced General J. Sladen Bradley. Also, Lieutenant Colonel Sidney C. Baker, Jr, our new Regimental Commander, replaced Colonel Gerald C. Kelleher. Before dark I had a little review of the previous night and explained that this was a somewhat normal reaction, but hopefully they would adjust quickly.

Day 388 – Tuesday 17 July 1951

The sun was up bright and early and with the humidity was almost unbearable. They sent me a new replacement who had been with a ranger company. In general conversation I learned that he was a corporal. I put him in the last position down the hill to secure our squad’s flank. They enlarged the foxhole to accommodate a third man. I think they were glad to have an extra man in the hole with them. They would have to work out their own guard hours among them.

Day 389 – Wednesday 18 July 1951

A slight shower before the sun came up resulted in high humidity.  It added to the misery of setting out flares and booby traps. I asked the corporal if he had experience in setting out trip flares and booby traps. He responded that he did and I assigned him to a section below the two positions down the hill. I attached a grenade to a small bush and had a thin cord attached to the ring tied to a nearby bush. Somehow the pin was pulled out of the grenade. The problem was to get the pin bent some so I could put it back in the grenade. I got it back in, but could have used a third hand. I heard an explosion, a trip flare shot up in the air, the parachute opened up, and the flare burned. At the same time I heard a scream. There was some commotion below and voices. I made my way over to the path and the corporal was running up the path holding his hand. I got him stopped with the help of the man running after him. He had had his hand on top of the trip flare and when he armed it something happened, resulting in detonating the flare. It almost completely severed his hand. We got a medic from A Company's platoon to treat him. They left and I had no more contact with him. That evening I once again mentioned the danger involved with flares and booby traps. We kept a list where we set the flares, grenades, and noise makers. Because of his rank and the fact that he had been a ranger and was a bit older, I failed to interrogate him more thoroughly, and feel very responsible for his accident.

Day 390 – Thursday 19 July 1951

The sun not only brought light and heat, but a new day with this one a surprise. About midmorning I noticed a man was coming up the path toward our positions. He was not armed or carrying a rifle. He was of slight build and appeared to be athletic. As he neared I saw that he was armed with a 45 pistol. I noticed the silver oak leaf on his helmet. He was our new Battalion Commander who replaced Colonel Lloyd G Huggins. I said, “Colonel, are you lost?” He said he was not lost, but was just trying to find the men of the 1st Battalion. He had a good chat with us before moving along the ridge to A Company.

Day 391 – Friday 20 July 1951

We got an early morning call on the sound power from the Platoon CP wanting to know when I entered C Company. Maybe it was about rotation. There was not much more we could do to our foxholes or outside security of trip flares and booby traps. The new replacements were adjusting to life on the line. The days were quite warm when the sun was not obscured by clouds. We enjoyed our time at dusk discussing issues and combat action. We did not have a platoon leader or a platoon sergeant. Hashimoto was filling in as an assistant platoon sergeant.

Day 392 – Saturday 21 July 1951

The sun was still welcome on line. It was a quiet night on our street, as none of the new replacements fired at imaginary enemies. We had been here about six days. There were talks of peace. Just how serious they were would be manifested. Talk was cheap, but men in combat lost their lives or limbs. It was a rather light day for us, but for the Air Force, they did not cease to fly sorties every day, weather permitting.

Day 393 – Sunday 22 July 1951

The sun rose subdued, being less intense due to the humidity and light fog.  The sun soon subdued both and the day was very hot. There was no news whether or not the chaplain was in the area. From our location it was a long hike to chow. For the platoon the hike was not so bad. I wondered how long we would be separated from our platoon in our current positions.

Day 394 – Monday 23 July 1951

When we got back from morning chow, the whistling sounds being emitted from the sound power indicated they wanted someone to answer. Hank answered. He noted the instructions from the Platoon CP. We were to disarm the trip flares and booby traps, but leave the noise makers.  At noon we were to report with bag and baggage to the Platoon CP. We were being assigned to new positions. We complied. At the CP we were told to eat noon chow. After chow we assumed positions between Longley’s squad and Vaughn’s squad. Our squad joined and tied in with Vaughn’s squad to our right. Hank and I occupied the sixth hole to the left. Longley’s squad started at the top of the hill some 200 or more yards away. It was not a good situation, but it was better than our previous location. At least we were closer to chow and the Company CP. Our squad followed an S curve around the contour of the hill to tie in with Vaughn’s squad. There were several abandoned Chinese bunkers located in the area, including one close to our foxhole.

Day 395 – Tuesday 24 July 1951

The sun arose for another day of blistering heat. After eating morning chow, we climbed up to the reverse side of the hill to our positions. About midmorning several men came down the hill toward our positions. Once they closed with us, I got the surprise of my life. They introduced our new Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Donald Gary. He had a gold bar on his collar. I acknowledged him by shaking his hand. The look on his face when he first arrived indicated that he knew me, but didn’t want to acknowledge me. I had a hard time not addressing him as Sergeant Gary (RA35908801).  I felt he wanted to keep our identity confidential. He had been the assistant squad leader of our squad in Camp Hood, Texas. As well as I recall, he was from Baltimore, was married, had been a WWII soldier, and had been aggressive in helping us soldiers. He had volunteered to go to Korea in hopes of winning a battlefield commission. I did not congratulate him for winning a battlefield commission, but wanted to. I would see how things would play out. I welcomed him to the 1st Platoon and introduced Richard “Hank” Bulger, my Assistant Squad Leader. I think he was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.

Day 396 – Wednesday 25 July 1951

A new day dawned for better or worse. Everyone in the platoon seemed to accept our new platoon leader. He was a very outgoing person. I think he felt he had ability that was not being recognized in Camp Hood. He was one of a few of the best in A Company, 12th AIB.  He was a professional soldier who was highly intelligent with excellent leadership skills. As I spoke to other men in the platoon, I let the words “Sergeant Gary” slip instead of “Lieutenant Gary.” I don’t think anyone caught on or paid attention.

We got a new sergeant first class as platoon guide. He was from A Company and had a confrontation with another soldier. Captain Pannell said to send him to C Company as C Company liked men like that. He was well built and a bit of a bruiser, and one that could lead. He seemed reasonable enough. His acceptance and worth had not yet been quantified.

Day 397 – Thursday 26 July 1951

The sun was up bright and early to make it a very hot, taxing, and tiring day. An order came down from higher echelon and stopped at C Company. The CO appointed Lieutenant Donald Gary to take his 1st Platoon and make up a reinforced patrol to see if contact could be made with the enemy’s Out Post Line of Resistance (OPLR) and engage them if it seemed prudent. The entire patrol was not to exceed 60 men. He assembled the squad leaders and various leaders who would make up the reinforced units. He briefed us as to our mission and its objective. He showed us the map and the suggested route we were to take based on information from higher echelon that they had or did not have.  He appointed the order of march. My squad was to bring up the rear. No one was suspicious or aware that I got special consideration. Lieutenant Gary asked for any questions. A few questions were asked and we set out.

We descended the mountain to the valley and into no man’s land. After about three miles we took a short break. We did not have an air panel, so if planes appeared we were to take cover quickly and remain still. After our short break we continued. Lieutenant Gary was on the radio with someone from higher echelon. We had sighted no enemy so far. He must have been suspicious of something, as we hugged the base of the hill on the right to shield us from view from a distant hill in the valley where it was logical to locate an outpost.

We all stopped so he could reconnoiter the area. We had come about two more miles. He sent word back that we had come as far as higher echelon had indicated--the stopping point on the map. He and some men of the lead squad proceeded further while we tried to stay out of sight. He observed some enemy on the suspected hill, reported it to higher echelon, and inquired if we should make contact and engage the enemy. Higher echelon said they were satisfied and for us to return according to Standard Operation Procedures (SOP).

My squad was appointed to lead the patrol back to our position via a different route in case the enemy had set up an ambush. We were tired as we approached the climb up to our position, which was most taxing. We got back to the Platoon CP and the cooks brought the food up to us since the rest of the company had eaten. The sun was making a fast retreat behind the mountains and long shadows were filling the valley we had explored. Most of us were so hot and thirsty that we could not eat. We drank the hot coffee to wash down some of the food and quench our thirst.

Lieutenant Gary had given me and my squad what should have been the safest task, but one never knew what could happen. I recall when I entered the platoon in the Pusan Perimeter on August 7, 1950, I was sent with a patrol to see if there was any enemy on the Nam River. We found no enemy, but returned a different way from what we had taken to prevent an ambush. The next day another patrol of seven men was sent on the same mission.  They were ambushed and four of them were wounded, but all made it back to our positions. We went to our foxholes. Hank took first turn at guard.

Day 398 – Friday 27 July 1951

The sun’s presence made the day uncomfortable. The day before was a challenging and taxing day and could have been one of some consequence if the enemy had set an ambush on our return route, or had let our patrol continue on being concealed, then cut us off, or if the Air Force had mistaken us for enemy. Had we had a firefight, our distance from our line of departure would have made it difficult to evacuate the wounded. But God brought us through without mishap.

We set a few trip flares and booby traps in front of our positions. Our officers said that if they located machine guns and other crew-served weapons like the 1st Cavalry Regiment, they would have been relieved of their command and given a desk job. I checked each of the foxholes to be sure the men had ammo and grenades. I took first turn at guard. Hank was already fast asleep in our foxhole. At ten or thereabouts I woke Hank for his two-hour turn of guard. We checked in on the sound power to the CP every hour--I suppose to see if they were awake.

Day 399 – Saturday 28 July 1951

My sleep was disturbed by the whistling on the sound power. I did not see Hank, so I answered. They were inquiring why we had not checked in since about 200 hours. I said that, so far as I knew, everything was okay. When Hank took his turn I was not yet asleep. He had two or three C-ration crackers he was eating. He took a bite and I heard, "crunch, crunch."  The noise stopped and then I heard, "crunch, crunch" again as I went off to sleep. I knew that I had slept longer than two hours and was glad that I had. Hank’s rifle was still in the hole. I walked around checking my men through the S curve. They had not seen Hank.  I walked on the back side of the hill and shouted softly, thinking he might be on the back side for a latrine call. There was still no answer.

Dawn arrived and so did the platoon leader with the platoon guide. We walked up to the Longley hole and they had not seen Hank. As we neared our foxhole, our Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Gary asked me if Hank could be in one of the abandoned Chinese bunkers. I said, "Not likely, but give me your 45 and I will check." Very carefully I entered the bunker on my hands and knees with his 45 in my right hand. I paused. I could hear breathing. Slowly, cautiously, I proceeded. I thought if it were Hank he could be awakened by a gentle shake, but if it was the enemy I should give a violent shake and shout “tow shong” (surrender)

It was not likely that it was an enemy, so creeping silently on my hands and knees toward the breathing, I held my hand out to feel his breath to orient me and gave him a gentle shake.  I whispered, “Hank.” He awoke out of a deep sleep. I was greatly relieved. I inquired what he was doing in the bunker. He said it was raining and he had come up to the bunker to get out of the rain. The truth of the matter was, it had not rained for several days. We exited the bunker and our platoon leader was livid, as was the platoon guide, because of the danger he had put me in, as well as the squad and the company. He said that Hank should be court marshaled for this. Hank was still waking up to hear all the allegations. I told Lieutenant Gary and the platoon guide that Hank was not going to be court marshaled. In a rifle squad on line, we did good to get four hours of sleep a night, all things being equal.  And on an all-night alert, we got less sleep. I was convinced that exhaustion and lack of sleep caused Hank to go to the bunker. I could tell the platoon leader was concerned about my safety--and rightly so, but he considered that we were men consisting of flesh and bones. I was glad for the extra sleep I got, but I did not tell them. They went back to the CP. Hank and I had a good laugh about what happened.

Day 400 – Sunday 29 July 1951

There had been no enemy activity in our area since moving into the 1st Cavalry’s positions. Our 60mm mortars fired at different intervals during the night. Once the shell left the tube, the safety pin was ejected and it landed in or near our positions, resulting in some noise as it struck leaves, branches, or the ground. That might cause some of the new replacements to be apprehensive. Outgoing mail was also fired at intervals to avenues the enemy might take to our positions.

We continued to improve our positions. The chaplain was in the area. Some of us went to the chapel service in the afternoon. The sun departed with a red sunset. We departed to our holes. Hank took first turn at guard.

Day 401 – Monday 30 July 1951

The sun assured us that we had made it through another night safe and sound. In talking to Hank, he spent some time reminiscing about how he and four other boys who had graduated from high school left Rumford, Maine in an old car to tour America. They had saved some money and set out on the trip. They made it to the State of Washington and started down the Pacific Coast. First came tire trouble, then the price of oil and gas. Cash was running out quicker than they expected. In Southern California they had to replace the water pump. Those were expenses they had not anticipated. Two of the boys had only a few dollars left when they got to Arizona. The two boys talked to another who was disillusioned about making it back to Maine. The three decided to join the Army. Hank and the other boy were desperate, but they continued through the southern states as planned. Needless to say, they had to seek some part-time work at service stations, as farm help, or in restaurants to obtain money or food for their service. They struggled, but thankfully had no more car trouble except flats. As they traveled through the southeastern states, Hank said that the natives there did not like bums of any kind and he said there was no work and no pay. Hank and his buddy made it back to Maine, but the trip had lasted much longer than anticipated, as they had to struggle from Arizona to Maine. He and his buddy said they were fools for not joining the Army in Arizona. He kept me in stitches as he related the story. He made it most interesting with his insight into people they encountered along the way. I do not remember all of the story, but I remember parts of it. Upon his return to Maine, he joined the Army.

Day 402 – Tuesday 31 July 1951

The sun was ruthless and unrelenting, and its scorching, cruel rays escalated rather than abated as the month of August drew near. At least there were some small trees that provided some semblance of shade. In the Pusan Perimeter there were none. I spoke to Clarence Weber about his being considered for the position of assistant squad leader. I let him read the copy of The Leader’s Code given to me by Captain Pannell when I became a squad leader. I told him I did not necessarily like being a squad leader because things weighed too heavily upon me, as did the responsibility. I gave him my copy of The Leader’s Code to read or copy and said, “Be sure to return it to me.” I appreciated the content of The Leader’s Code, but I appreciated the man who gave it to me most. The days seemed so long now. I checked all of my men in the foxholes and took first turn at guard.


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Rotating Home

Day 403 – Wednesday 01 August 1951

Just before daybreak some outgoing mail screamed overhead. I detected that one of the rounds was an illumination round. I hunkered down in the foxhole so only a portion of my face would show. The round exploded and a small parachute floated down with a flare dangling, lighting up the area through the light fog. This prompted me to realize that I had lobbed various kinds of grenades and explosives, but had never lobbed an illumination grenade, though I had intended to do so. If I rotated soon, I would not have another opportunity, so I did not want to miss the chance. I picked up the illumination grenade with its smooth jacket to distinguish it from a fragmentation grenade, pulled the pin, and threw it over the hill in front of our position. The muffled explosion of the grenade lit up a small portion of the area. A prompt response followed from the CP. “What do you see?” “Nothing, testing, practicing.”

With the coming of the dawn, the sun was slightly concealed by the light morning fog, making the sun’s rays appear anemic to produce a translucent glow over the landscape. Hank took half of the squad off the hill to morning chow. Someone shouted from the Platoon CP to get on the sound power. I had not heard the whistle. They inquired when I had entered C Company. I replied that I was assigned to C Company on the 6th day of August, but I entered C Company on the 7th day of August at The Notch. I went back to sorting things out in our foxhole. They had called a few days ago wanting the same information. Maybe they were just checking to see if I remembered. Who knows?

About thirty minutes later they shouted for me to get on the sound power. I answered and they said, “Scott, bag and baggage, you are rotating. Report to the Company CP.” I was stunned but elated. Hank was returning from chow with our squad members. I went around to all the positions in our squad and thanked them for their loyal support that made the 3rd squad the best squad in the 1st Platoon and in the company. I bid them farewell and exhorted them to support Hank and Weber as they had supported me. I told Hank, “They are your men; take good care of them.” I traded rifles with Cookie (Donald Laidley). His rifle had a sniper scope, but he said it had been broken for a day or two.

As I walked off the hill with the other men of my squad to chow, I had mixed feelings. Though Cookie was the youngest member in our squad, I was second. All the men in the squad were older. I felt some obligation toward them. I turned Cookie’s M1 in at supply, but the man at supply refused it as it was not my rifle. I told him that Cookie had my rifle and if he wanted it, he would have to find Cookie. I ate chow and bid cooks and the men at the Company CP farewell. I got in the Jeep that took me to the 1st Battalion Headquarters. As we bumped along in the Jeep I wondered why Cookie wanted to trade rifles. I did not check it to see if it was broken. Maybe Cookie just wanted my rifle as a keepsake. Who knows?

From there I was taken with other men by truck to the 35th Regimental CP. At regiment we got a certificate – Headquarters 35th Infantry Regiment APO 25 certified by the medical officer that we were cleared for rotation. The certificate was to be carried by the individual.

Day 404 – Thursday 02 August 1951

We ate our morning chow at Regimental Headquarters. After morning chow we were taken by truck to an assembly area consisting of compounds. We were assigned to a tent with cots. They issued us a blanket, two sheets, a towel, and a pillow and pillow case. After noon chow we fell out for formation. We walked a short distance where we were instructed to put all personal items in a box and strip down, leaving our boots on. Our clothes were taken and we were given a towel.  Soap was in the shower. Once out of the shower we dried ourselves and put on new clothes. If our boots were still good, we kept them; otherwise we were issued new boots.

When I got my personal items, the soldier who had gone through the items said that he had to take one item as it was a sighting device for a mortar or some crew-served weapon. I told him it was a telecamera that I had purchased while on R&R in Japan. He tried again, but I said, "If you go on the front line you had better know rather than guess what an item is for." He relented.

I was amazed at life off the line. They would never know a war was being fought. They were playing volleyball, pitching horseshoes, and seeing movies. There was no shortage of men for the task. An announcement was made over the PA system that a film was to be shown starting at dark. I went early and watched men come down from their respective divisions. I wondered if Joe Boydstun would be coming from the 24th Infantry Division. Just like Gaskins on January 1, a camaraderie develops among soldiers. We had disembarked off the Japanese ship in Pusan Harbor on August 5, 1950.  Joe waved and shouted, “God bless till we meet again.” That was almost 365 days ago. Men were streaming down from the different compounds. I did not have to wait long until I saw Joe coming with two other men. We both were surprised. Neither of us watched much of the film.

Day 405 – Friday 03 August 1951

The rising and setting of the sun had been unnoticed during the past few days as we were all excited about returning stateside. But during the day we keenly felt the stifling heat of the sun in the tents. Some soldiers tried to smuggle firearms back with them. I think only one was successful.  He was an Irish lad, and I was not sure I could believe him. A rumor floated around that we would be taken by a Landing Ship Tank (LST) to a larger vessel anchored in deep water. The tides at Inchon were among the highest and trickiest in the world creating large mud flats when the tide was out. We could only go out at certain times. We got a good night’s sleep--that was, those who could sleep. Sometimes I woke up and could not go back to sleep.

Day 406 – Saturday 04 August 1951

After breakfast chow we left with our duffel bags by truck to Inchon. We were taken by LST at high tide to a ship anchored in deep water. Arriving at the ship, we disembarked the LST and boarded the ship that would take us to Sasebo, Japan. There were about 2,000 troops on the ship when it set sail for Sasebo. It was no luxury ship.

Day 407 – Sunday 05 August 1951

We arrived at Sasebo, Japan about 24 hours later. The short voyage was, to say the least, without incident. We started our medical processing. We were given a medical clearance certificate signed by P O’Higgins, Major, ML Medical Officer, which stated that we were found to be free from vermin and communicable and infectious diseases, and that we were medically cleared for rotation to the Zone of the Interior.  It was dated 5 August, 1951.

Day 408 – Monday 06 August 1951

This was a busy place. After morning chow we were taken in groups to an assembly building. There we were interviewed concerning our records and medical clearance to the Zone of the Interior. Several recruiting sergeants were on hand. I bumped into Paul Taylor, who was waiting for me. I had not seen him since the middle of March. He was from Belington, West Virginia, and we had been stationed together at Fort Hood, Texas. We both entered the 1st Battalion exactly one year ago. We were both going to C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment, but the truck that was taking us stopped at battalion headquarters. A Major announced that he needed a Jeep driver. Taylor jumped off the truck and said, “I’m your man.” and got the job. He asked me if I was going to re-enlist. I talked to a recruiter who would only say that I could stay in Japan three months before going back to Korea. If I went back to Korea for three more months, I could get another stripe, which would make me a Master Sergeant. At twenty I thought that was a bit too much. I said that I would enlist in the States for a better deal. Taylor was somewhat disappointed that I did not re-up, as he had re-enlisted for six years.

Day 409 – Tuesday 07 August 1951

I did not notice when the sun came up for work, but I remembered when he quit work. We went to mess hall to eat. There was a rather long line which did not seem to be moving. We waited and waited and wondered if the line was moving. Then we learned or heard a rumor that a KP had put water softener by mistake in one of the food items. A lot of men had already eaten, but so far none had any ill effects from the food. At last the line started moving. When we left the mess hall it was getting dark.

Day 410 – Wednesday 08 August 1951

We were taken by truck to the dock in Sasebo where the USS Pope was docked. We were assigned to a compartment number. Hundreds of troops were moving up the gangplank, happy and glad to be heading stateside. Once loaded, all men had to report to their station, where an appointed sergeant called the roll. The PA system blared instructions as to where the lifejackets were located and how to evacuate the ship.

We turned in for the night. Our bunk consisted of a piece of canvas roped to a tubular iron frame. We had sheets, a pillow, and a blanket for our comfort. I was third up from the bottom. The bunks had about 24 inches between them, and for a rather large man it was quite easy for him to bump someone above him. The ship put out to sea as the sun sank below the horizon.

Day 411 – Thursday 09 August 1951

A beautiful red sun seemed to be floating in the eastern Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan. The water was as smooth as glass as we glided along. We ate our morning chow standing at long metal tables with vertical poles evenly spaced attached to the table from floor to ceiling. The day passed quickly. We had a drill and had to report to our duty station. There was a beautiful sunset in the wake of the ship.

Day 412 – Friday 10 August 1951

The rumor was that we would be on the USS Pope about two weeks, depending which route we took--a northern route which was longer or a direct route which was shorter. The ship had Navy officers and a merchant marine crew. We loved to walk along the deck looking for sea life until dark.

Day 413 – Saturday 11 August 1951

Someone said that there were over 4,000 men on the ship. I gave Joe Boydstun a shout. I could have easily missed him in the large number of troops on board. We decided on a fixed point where we would meet each day to talk about our days at Fort Hood.

Day 414 – Sunday 12 August 1951

I did not catch the sunrise, but I was glad for its warm rays. I met Joe and we walked around some. A game of bingo was in progress with some excellent prizes to be won at no cost to the players. Near the door into the ship, three GIs were walking.  They created a bit of excitement when one of them went berserk, no doubt a leftover reaction to noise and movement that prompted the action mentally or physically from combat in an assault operation or defensive position--a flashback. They had to put him in the brig.

Day 415 – Monday 13 August 1951

The sun was welcome this morning on the portside of the ship as the air was cool and we had no jackets. We moved to starboard during the afternoon. There was a dispute between the crew and the officers. The officers wanted a more southern route that would save time, fuel, and money. The crew wanted a northern route because it would be cooler and more comfortable for them working inside the ship. The crew must have won out or they would have gone on strike until their demands were met.

Chow was decent on the ship. They got the KPs from the lower enlisted ranks and their KP pushers from the higher enlisted ranks. I did not wear any stripes, but kept the patches in my shirt pocket and only showed them when they were looking for the lower ranks. Many of the GIs displayed them in various ways. Once I had to be a KP pusher.

Day 416 – Tuesday 14 August 1951

After morning chow I went topside to enjoy the warm rays of the sun and to chit-chat with Joe and others. We sat on an air vent, which was comfortable, but our feet had to dangle down as it was elevated above the deck by about two feet. A GI surprised me when he grabbed me by my knees and said, “You don’t know who I am!” I recognized him right away. I said, “You are Jimmy D. Smith from Damascus, Virginia. We had basic training together at Fort Knox, Kentucky.” I asked him what outfit he had been with in Korea. He replied that he was with an artillery outfit. I told him, “I thought you would have been with the 187th Airborne Regiment.” After basic training we both went to the Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. His older brother was a paratrooper. He replied that at the 250-foot towers he floated down, but upon landing he broke both legs, spent quite a bit of time in the hospital, and was kicked out of the Airborne School. He was only a PFC and no doubt if he had served with the 187th in Korea he would have still been a PFC. In some units rank came slowly. My older brother Warren served over two years with the 141st Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division--a Texas National Guard outfit. He was discharged at the end of the war as a PFC.

Day 417 – Wednesday 15 August 1951

The sun was more welcome than ever since it was not at all comfortable on the portside without its warm rays. The water was no longer a sea of shining glass so smooth, but now was white caps and swells.  The ship rolled with whatever. I learned what the vertical poles attached to the floor and ceiling were for. When I left the food service line it was a bit of a balancing act to walk to the table with my food. I hooked my left arm around the pole and grasped my tray to keep it from sliding on the metal table top. My right hand employed the fork, spoon, or knife as needed to eat. Without the vertical poles and holding my tray with my left hand, my tray slid to the next man, who then ate off my plate. When the ship rolled back, I could eat off my plate.  As the ship continued its roll, I ate off the tray of the man on my right--maybe not a bad idea! Always starboard in the afternoons.

Day 418 – Thursday 16 August 1951

The sun was not much help this morning, so I spent part of the morning inside the ship. There were very few places to sit down and sometimes not much standing room. Someone thought we might be sailing off the coast of the Aleutian Islands, creating the present cold and inclement weather as well as the rougher waters.

Day 419 – Friday 17 August 1951

Again we only went topside in the afternoon when the weather was more tolerable or when conditions inside the hold of the ship were intolerable. The choice was up to the individual. Some of us thought we were in the chow line, but after a long while the line moved ever so slowly and we arrived at a Coke machine--the next best thing to chow. I had not had a Coke for over a year. We went in search of the chow line. Some of the days were a bit boring, even with some of the activities they provided.  But with over 4,000 men on board it was not possible for all to participate. All of the men were happy and considerate, since they were out of the war zone alive, even though some had not been in combat.

Day 420 – Saturday 18 August 1951

The sun was still at work every day and we went topside as the weather, longitude, latitude, parallel or whatever had abated so we could go earlier and stay later. I wonder what it would have been like if we had taken the southern route. Someone said we would find out next time. When I left stateside for Korea, I entered the 1st Platoon and was assigned to a rifle (assault) squad in Korea six days later.

Day 421 – Sunday 19 August 1951

We were sailing into warmer waters. We sought the starboard area in the morning and the portside in the afternoon. I had looked for ships every day since we put out to sea.  Just before sunset I was talking to one of the merchant seamen who was taking a break when I saw a ship approach us. I told him I thought I could swim to the ship. He looked at me and laughed as though I must be crazy. He said the ship was a good four or five miles away. He explained that there was nothing between the ship and me that would provide me a frame of reference such as a tree, the terrain, or mountains. It was a good thing that I did not jump overboard to see if I could swim to the ship. It looked quite large and close. The waves did not provide much guidance in the vast expanse of the ocean.

Day 422 – Monday 20 August 1951

The sun was out bright. The water was rather choppy and it was quite warm. Going to the area where we met, I had to cross over to the other side of the ship. In doing so I had to make a breach in the line of troops lined up to go in to the PX. It so happened that they were busy talking to ones on either side and there was a gap in between, so I entered the gap.  I realized that I was in line not far from the entrance of the PX. I stopped as no one had noticed me. When the line started to move again, the ones on either side noticed that I was in the line and gave me a stare. But I just moved with the flow into the PX and looked around.  I did not see anything that I wanted, so I left to join my buddies. We stayed topside to well after dark as it was quite warm down in the hold.

Day 423 – Tuesday 21 August 1951

We went up topside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Sometime in the afternoon we noticed that the ship was circling around, but for what reason we did not know. Most went across the ship to see why it was circling. The ship leaned due to the shift in the weight. They had spotted what appeared to be a small, dark brown vessel that had turned upside down. They sent a small boat out with some crew members to investigate. What they found was a large log that was being towed with other logs and probably had broken loose from the tow. The ship righted its course and precarious leaning as men went to other parts of the ship. It was a long, enjoyable day at sea. Maybe when I joined the Navy and didn’t tell my cousin Oscar it would have been a better decision instead of the path I chose.

Day 424 – Wednesday 22 August 1951

It was another beautiful day with a few scattered clouds.  The sun was in a bright blue sky shining and highlighting the clouds. There was a glimpse of land in the distance in the afternoon. Sometime just before dark the sun finished its day’s work and the USS Pope stopped. As darkness settled in, we could see the lights of the California coast and the harbor lights of San Francisco. It was sad to think of the men who never came back except in a body bag to be buried in a national, local or family cemetery.


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Back in the USA

Day 425 – Thursday 23 August 1951

The sun arrived to start a new day, but the PA system was barking out orders and instructions for our disembarking long before sunrise. We were to change from our fatigue clothing to a Class B uniform. Immediately after chow we were to go topside and await further instructions. I was amazed as I walked to topside over the quantity of fatigues that were left on the floor to topside. There were enough fatigues to clothe a battalion of infantry.

Sometime before dawn a pilot had been brought out in a launch and entered the USS Pope which was anchored several miles out. The pilot skillfully guided the ship under the Golden Gate Bridge. I noted and compared the faces of the men as we sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge to the faces I observed when we flew over the Golden Gate Bridge on August 1, 1950 on our way to Korea. The pilot guided the ship, docking it at the San Francisco port of embarking. I bought the souvenir edition of the San Francisco News dated August 23, 1951. The bold headline letters read, "4290 Vets Return."  A small band was playing military songs. Quite a number of people gathered to see and greet their loved ones retuning from combat in Korea. A GI lost his balance and fell off the fantail of the ship as he was waving. He was recovered and it only hurt his pride. For most of us we were not greeted by family or friends. Perhaps 50 or less of the 4,290 vets were greeted by family or friends. Once the welcoming ceremony was over, which was very short, we walked down the gangplank and were sorted out according to regions for processing.

We were immediately taken to a ferry which took us to Camp Stoneman near Pittsburg, located on the Sacramento River. We started processing for the Zone of the Interior on the ferry, filling out papers and forms. Arriving at Camp Stoneman, we were sorted out again and assigned to barracks. We had only been in the barracks a short time when two men who were civilians selling photographs of the war in Korea arrived. They seemed to be a bit apprehensive and in a hurry from the git-go. There were 40 photographs in a pack and sold for $14.00 a pack. A little math told me that was about five days’ pay in Korea. I took a pack and looked very quickly through the photographs.  They were of good quality in printing and design, indicating that it was the work of a professional(s). The pictures were of American soldiers in combat action acting in a cavalier, disdainful, and haughty manner in killing and torturing captured prisoners according to their perception of war. Being in an assault squad myself, I never ever witnessed such bizarre scenes that were the subjects of photographs like this--not in the 1st Platoon or any platoon in C Company, 35th Infantry Regiment. The creators of the photographs knew nothing of the rules of engagement in combat. Several men bought a pack or two of the photographs to show the folks back home how fiercely and savagely they fought in Korea. Most likely the ones who were buying the photographs were gullible, rear echelon troops who had not seen or been in combat at all. A closer look made me suspicious that the photographs were staged. The soldiers in the photographs were not consistent with the facts as well as the surroundings in which they were staged. Where were the pictures staged? Maybe here in our own beloved America for a profit from riflemen who fought the enemy and the elements for $2.95 a day plus a can of C-rations or perhaps they were created by some country for propaganda purposes against our beloved country?

All of a sudden the two civilians started grabbing the packs of photographs out of our hands.  They did not take the time to get all, as they fled out of the barracks' back entrance when two Military Policemen (MPs) entered the barracks and confiscated all of the packs of photographs, whether they were paid for or not. They searched through our belongings as well. Thankfully I did not lose any money. I was not going to buy any photographs, so shame on me if I had lost any money.

Those of us who completed processing were given our orders. My orders were for a 30-day leave with reassignment to Fort Meade, Maryland, beginning 24th August to 26th September 1951. The orders included travel time and pay to Fort Meade. During the late afternoon I was cleared to leave. An Army bus took several of us to a bus station near Camp Stoneman. After a rather indirect route by bus, I arrived at the Oakland Airport. I made my way to the United Airlines desk to buy a ticket. The girl behind the ticket counter was most friendly, helpful, and polite.    She called me Sir so often that I looked down to see if there was a gold bar or a silver star pinned to my shirt collar. I told her that she did not have to call or answer me with Sir and she asked why. I explained to her that, in the Army, the only ones who were addressed as Sir were officers. She did not know my rank as I had my sergeant stripes--three up and two rockers in my shirt pocket. “Sir,” she said, “Let me explain your route of travel. You will go from Oakland to Chicago O’Hare on United Airlines, from O’Hare Airport to Cincinnati Airport on Delta Airlines, and from Cincinnati to Charleston, West Virginia on Piedmont Airlines.” I handed her the money and she handed me the tickets and my change and thanked me for flying United.  That morning a United DC-6B, Flight 615 coming from Chicago had crashed, killing all 44 passengers and six crew members about fourteen miles from the Oakland Airport. I said to her that, in view of what had happened, that morning, maybe it would have been better to have wished me bon voyage instead of thank-you. Smiling, she agreed and wished me bon voyage.

As I was walking away from the ticket counter, I was arrested by a voice that said, “Scott.” It was Master Sergeant Bean, who was at the adjacent ticket counter buying a ticket to Manchester, New Hampshire. He said, “Wait a few minutes and I will take you to the airport restaurant and buy you a meal.” We had a good meal and spent a good deal of time catching up on things. He had been the squad leader of the Weapons Squad (4th) in the 1st Platoon and was later an Assistant Platoon Sergeant in the 1st Platoon. On two or three occasions I had had a confrontation with him when he was in the 1st Platoon. He was a tall, raw-boned man who was able to bark out and enforce orders--just the kind of man I would want in a foxhole or in a foxhole next to me when my back was against the wall in a last ditch stand during the Pusan Perimeter battles. He was transferred from C Company to D Company (Weapons Company) in March 1951. He now was a Master Sergeant, and his command presence would make him a fit candidate for a battlefield commission. I thanked him for the meal. We went to our respective gates to board our flights.

I boarded a DC-6B flight 615 bound for Chicago O’Hare. The pilot briefed us as to weather conditions.  It was smooth most of the way with a few thunderstorms and a rather bumpy ride in the Chicago area due to the lakes. Before long I was fast asleep and I did not wake up until my ears began to pop and I was being jostled about over the lakes going into Chicago O’Hare Airport. Once I was off the plane and collected my duffel bag, I had to hurry to the far end of the terminal to catch the Delta flight to Cincinnati, Ohio. In Cincinnati, I boarded a DC-3 for the flight to Charleston, West Virginia. I got a cab to take me to the Greyhound Bus Station. There was a bit of a delay before boarding the Greyhound Bus to Princeton. I arrived in Beckley for a 45 minute rest stop. Being a bit hungry, I ordered a meal and a cup of coffee. I finished eating, swung around on the stool, and leaned back, putting my elbows on the counter to wait to board the bus. To my surprise, I saw my father enter the bus terminal. He did not notice me. As he passed in front of me, I said, “Dad, where are you going?” He was surprised. He knew I had landed in the States. We had a quick chat. He wanted me to spend the night with him and we would go home the next day, but I declined and opted to go home.

The bus arrived in Princeton just as the sun was setting. I decided to take a cab to Athens instead of walking to the east end and hitchhiking to Athens. Nothing had changed in the two years I had been away. I told the cab driver to stop on the main road near the high school. I noticed a woman walking on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. It was my mother, who had been over to visit and get the paper from Edna Johnson.  She had turned the corner and was walking toward our house. I paid the cab driver and started walking toward our house, quickening my steps a bit so I could follow Mother into the house. As she went through the door, I walked right in behind her. They were all surprised to see me. We got to bed well after midnight. I told them that Dad wanted me to spend the night with him and come in with him early the next morning. It was good to be home.


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End of Enlistment

My first night home we went to bed late. Before I went to sleep a sound which I had not forgotten, but had not heard for over two years, was the friendly, familiar, monotonous, three syllable nocturnal song of a whippoorwill. I pointed my finger, traversing back and forth in the direction of the sound. Once I located the whippoorwill, it shut up so I could go to sleep.

Having grown up in the mountains as a child, my world ended at the top of the surrounding hills of Oxley Hollow and the Promised Land where I learned to feed chickens and livestock, gather eggs, hoe and thin corn, slop hogs, gather walnuts and chestnuts, pick chinquapins and berries, feed livestock, ride horses, milk cows, scatter cow and horse manure on the garden, cut brush, haul hay shocks to be stacked, cut firewood, fish and swim in creeks, and trap and hunt both day and night. My great grandfather, John Allen McKenzie (9.19.1822 – 6.18.1898) of Ingleside, West Virginia, had a double headstone in the McKenzie family cemetery at Hardy that read, “How sweet the hour of closing day when all is peaceful and serene.” The song My Home Among the Hills by E.W. James, Jr. perhaps best describes the attitude, culture and experience of those who live among the hills.

There’s a land of rolling mountains
Where the sky is blue above.
And though I may roam, I hurry home,
To the friendly hills I love.
Where the moonlit meadows ring with the call of whip-poor-wills.
Always you will find me in my home among the hills.
And where the sun draws rainbows in the mist
Of waterfalls and mountain rills
My heart will be always in the West Virginia Hills.
There, autumn hillsides are bright with scarlet trees and in the spring, the robins sing
While apple blossoms whisper in the breeze
And there is music in the flashing streams and joy in fields of daffodils
Laughter through the happy valleys of my home among the hills.

The early morning silence I was enjoying was broken by birds singing their melodious songs that announced the early light of dawn advancing into the retreating darkness of a short night and was slowly filtering into my surroundings. I struggled to orient myself to the new elusive space as to time and place. The walls and ceiling were strange, as well as the comfortable bed. I faintly heard music and smelled the aroma of food being cooked floating into my space. I suddenly realized that I was home among the West Virginia hills. As I dressed, I thought about the 4,290 men who came ashore in San Francisco on 23 August aboard the USS Pope. I thought of many of my buddies who did not make the return trip to see the Golden Gate Bridge or home again. I thanked the God of all Grace and His Son my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, that I was home.

Going down the familiar stairs to the kitchen, I heard the radio tuned to WHIS or WLOH, the local stations playing, “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, everything is going my way” or Home on the Range. Mom liked to start the morning with music while frying eggs and ham or bacon, making biscuits, grits, stewed fruit, poor man’s or red eye gravy, and coffee. About midmorning she would play hymns on our old upright piano, which was slightly out of tune. I ate breakfast with Warren and saw him off to work. I stayed close to home for a few days. At night Warren and I would go downtown and meet with other WWII vets in the Athenian Restaurant or in a car to listen to other veterans’ experiences in war.  Some especially wanted to hear what I had to say about Korea. Bill Coburn was in the Army Air Corps in WWII. He was a gunner on a B-24 bomber and was shot down on his seventh mission. He was a POW in a German POW camp until the end of WWII. He freely related his experiences in a very factual, interesting way, interspersing with comments that provided lots of laughter at times.

One Sunday afternoon I was in the Athenian Restaurant talking with a few locals. The boys I had associated with were working away from Athens or had been drafted or joined the military. Janet Worley was walking with a girl, Dorothy Jean Hendricks, whose family was friends with Janet’s family. I asked them if they wanted to go for a ride. I was driving my brother, Warren’s Hudson automobile. They agreed, so I drove down Hinton Hill on Route 20 through Speedway, Lerona, and into Summers County to the Bluestone Dam built during WWII--then a tourist attraction which was not far from Hinton. Janet’s family moved to Athens in 1944 from the mining community of Glen White, West Virginia. Her father, Elmore Worley, was a coal miner and later an electrician in the mines owned by Mr. Glen White. After moving to Athens, he was employed as a machinist’s helper at the Virginia Railroad Shop in Princeton. They had purchased the farm once owned by J.H. Easley. The 44-acre farm adjoined the campus of Concord College. Janet’s mother was a housewife. They attended Mount Jackson Regular Baptist Church. Janet began attending our Sunday School class and was an excellent reader. The Sunday School teacher, my cousin, Minnie Lee Martin, would often call on Janet to read the portion of scripture pertaining to the lesson.

My family attended Mount Jackson Regular Baptist Church from 1936 to 1946. The Regular Baptist Church started in Oxley Hollow. My Grandmother Scott was a charter member. When my family moved into the town of Athens in 1946, we only occasionally attended Mount Jackson Regular Baptist Church, and, consequently, I only saw Janet casually at school. I asked her for a date.  She said that there was a revival meeting at Mount Jackson and asked if I would go. I agreed, as it would provide me an opportunity to see some of my kin as well as the members of the local community – the Oxleys, Martins, Journeys, Bennetts, Jennings, Thompsons, Becketts, Nobles, Kagles, Scotts, Wileys, Woods, Barnes, Jones, and Nichols. We saw each other a few times before I reported to Fort Meade, Maryland. We began corresponding with each other after I returned to duty.

As ordered, I reported to Fort Meade, Maryland on 26 September, and was assigned to a replacement company where I waited assignment to a permanent unit. Duty was rather light. We had close order drill in the morning. In the afternoon we marched to the post theater to watch captured and Allied films made in combat during WWII. The films, though some were of poor quality due to circumstances, were informative and factual. Though they showed some a second time, I enjoyed watching them again. We stood a Formal Retreat and passed in review. There were others of equal or greater rank, but I was assigned a platoon for the event. I did my best to count cadence and give commands to the platoon during the Formal Retreat. Nothing was said about my performance, but I felt I deserved a reprimand.

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Segregation

During my third week at Fort Meade, the first sergeant called my name to report front and center. He explained to me that I was in charge of eleven other soldiers who were being sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He asked if I had any questions. I asked about the transportation and departure time. He said he would explain that later. He called the names of the other eleven soldiers. Two were black--one was a sergeant first class, the other a private first class. The other nine soldiers were white, all with rank below a corporal.

After morning chow, we were to report to the firebreak for transportation to Friendship Field to fly on Eastern Airlines to Columbia, South Carolina. The first segment of our trip went well. At Washington National Airport, I reported to Eastern Airlines for our flight to Columbia. I was told that they could only take ten on the flight at 1:15 p.m. Two would have to take the later flight. I told the black sergeant first class that he was one of the two who would take the later flight, and asked for a volunteer to take the later flight. Everyone was quite happy with the arrangement. Before I dismissed them, I announced that we would assemble here at 11:45 a.m. for noon chow. I talked to the black sergeant first class who appeared to be older than me. He possessed all the qualities of a mature NCO. I was given the responsibility as group leader only because I outranked him in time and grade.

Everyone showed up at 11:45 a.m. for noon chow, so we proceeded to the airport restaurant. When a waiter came over to greet us, I explained that we were en route to Fort Jackson, South Carolina and presented him with our orders and a meal ticket for Sergeant First Class Charles C. Scott and eleven other soldiers. He was friendly enough, but he informed me that we could not eat in the airport restaurant, as it was segregated. He said that we would have to go downtown to eat.

I quickly reviewed my Leadership School training at Fort Hood in 1949: estimate the situation, seek a solution, and take some course of action. I asked how we were to get downtown. He said by taxi or by bus. I countered that we did not have the money or the time to go downtown. He disappeared. I wondered how I was dealt such a situation as this! Was this planned so we would have to stay for the noon meal? Surely the Army should have known the restaurant was segregated. What if I failed to feed the men or if I insisted and caused a scene? Would I be court-martialed and be busted? As a squad leader, my men always came first.

Upon his return, he asked if the black soldiers would be willing to eat in the kitchen. Silence! Just as I started to speak, the black private first class spoke up, “Sarge, where you eat is where I want to eat.” I said, “I want to eat here.” The waiter must have been issued an alternate plan, as he seated us together, partially concealing some of us by the potted plants.

This was the first major decision I had to make stateside. It was not my intent to push the issue of segregation--we just wanted to eat. As a twenty year old squad leader in a rifle platoon, I had to make many decisions, some difficult, almost every day in Korea, but none as challenging as this since there was no Standing Operating Procedure. Though we did not leave any tips, I thanked the waiter for allowing us to eat and for the excellent food. The ten of us boarded the plane at 1:15 p.m. for Columbia, South Carolina.

Arriving in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, I was assigned to Company K, 3431st, A.S.U. Reception Center. The stay at Fort Jackson was brief. In late October, I received orders for Fort Benning, Georgia. I was stationed at Fort Benning in 1949 prior to being transferred to Camp Hood.

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12th Replacement Company

In early November, I was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, and assigned to 12th Company, a replacement company, prior to being assigned to the Infantry School. I was Field First Sergeant at Headquarters and Headquarter Company, 2nd Student Training Command. Later I become Acting First Sergeant--quite a responsibility for a twenty year old. A guard detachment was being formed to provide security for the Harmony Church area and to train officer candidates in basic instruction on guard duty and security. Headquarters interviewed seventeen sergeants first class and master sergeants to fill the two positions. Master Sergeant Guy, who was from South Carolina, was a tall, raw-boned, no-nonsense man with a command presence.  A highly decorated WWII soldier, he was the one chosen to be in command, and I was chosen as second in command of the guard detachment.

We were housed in a small guard house adjacent to Regimental Headquarters. On entering the guard house, there were two NCO rooms on either side, separated by a partition with a door that opened to a large room that could accommodate sixteen to twenty soldiers. Guy took the room on the left and I took the room on the right. In the room was a round pistol rack, a desk, a cot, and two chairs. We had three drivers and twelve men. Most of our duty was patrolling the area in a Jeep or staff car, checked out each day at the motor pool after 5:00 p.m. and returned the next day by 7:00 a.m. Each day a driver and a shotgun guard took the mail and currency from the PX to the Main Post at 7:00 p.m. We put the flag up, fired a 76 mm French cannon, and played First Call over the Public Address (PA) system all at the same time at daybreak. In the evening we played Retreat, took the flag down, and fired the 76mm cannon. Guy and I were on duty for 24 hours as well as the men who were on duty. We operated the PA system while the men on duty fired the cannon and put the flag up or took it down. Guy and I occasionally went on patrol, but most of the time we were in Regimental Headquarters with a First John (First Lieutenant) who was on CQ duty. We had every other day and every other weekend off.

There is one incident that I will remember as long as I live and is ever fresh in my memory. All the men had returned from their night’s duty and left their pistols on the desk for me to check and clear and lock in the pistol rack. They went to their bunks to get forty winks before going to breakfast chow and returning the Jeep or staff car to the motor pool. I picked up one of the 45s which had the clip out, checked the pistol, and put it in the rack. I checked all the pistols, but on the last pistol I checked I either put the clip in or the pistol had not been cleared. I saw a GI walking along the road in front of Regimental Headquarters just below the French cannon perhaps 200 feet away. I raised the pistol, lowered it at the GI, and pulled the trigger. There was a deafening explosion, the pistol recoiled, and a round hole in the window pane began to form cracks like a spider web. The room filled with smoke. I could not believe what had happened, but I could see them jacking up the stockade and throwing me underneath for life. I did not have a military driver’s license, but I ran out, jumped in the Jeep, drove left around the Regimental Headquarters and proceeded down to the street with caution looking for a dead or wounded GI. I did not have the guts to drive directly to him. Thankful to the grace of God, I missed. He was not to be found dead or kicking his last kick. If he had ever experienced enemy fire in Korea, he is no doubt still running.

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Stockade Duty

On at least three occasions at Fort Benning, I, along with seven other sergeant first class soldiers and a lieutenant were selected from units on the post for a week of stockade duty at the Main Post. I was very apprehensive the first time I was selected for stockade duty. We assisted the stockade guards perform all the various duties involving the prisoners except sleeping there. We were not armed. We had a brief orientation session each morning before beginning our assigned duties. One thing they stressed was the rules of the stockade and treatment of the prisoners. The only reading materials in the stockade were training manuals, military law, rules and regulations, and Bibles.

Most of the prisoners were serving a short sentence of three months and two-thirds or six months and two-thirds of their pay. Some with longer incarcerations were waiting to be transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The prisoners had certain rights that should not be infringed. To do so could result in disciplinary action if convicted. Most all of them were good soldiers, but in one way or another had infracted a rule that put them in the stockade or infracted a rule in the stockade that put them in the black box in solitary confinement to take the vinegar out of them.

Our day started by taking groups of prisoners out of their cells to the latrine for a short visit, then returning them to their cell. Next we took prisoners who were in for longer than six months. They were more apt to be belligerent, quarrelsome, contentious and annoying, but they knew their limits when they got a stern rebuke for their attitude or action. It was a time when they could socialize for a few minutes. They all asked if they could smoke. I said no way were they to smoke or possess cigarettes. If I were caught allowing them to smoke by the OD, I would face disciplinary action. I did not turn a blind eye, but allowed enough slack when I did not witness the smoking. What amazed me was they could smell the OD coming or they had a communication system that announced his coming. He most likely smelled the smoke, but lack of evidence cut them some slack, as well as himself.

I remember my first visit to the black box to accompany a prisoner to the latrine. There were several black boxes made of steel about six feet wide, eight feet in length, seven feet high, and painted black inside and out. The door had a small slit at the bottom where a food tray could be slid under the door into the black box. The incarcerated was given bread and water to eat. The steel door had a small window so that the incarcerated could stand, tiptoe, or stoop to look through the window which was about one inch wide and two inches high. If the incarcerated desired to look out the small window, there were two bars--one vertical and one horizontal that formed a cross to let him know that he was in the stockade. Through the small window he could get a glimpse of the window in the stockade with bars over the window, and through that window he could see the barb wire fence surrounding the stockade with its guard towers. Just a reminder where he was in captivity. The stockade guard unlocked the door of the black box and the incarcerated came out. All he had on was his GI shorts. Inside the black box was his steel bunk suspended by two chains from the wall and a GI towel which he could use for a pillow or a blanket. Coming out of the darkness into the light blinded him so that he put his hands over his eyes until his eyes adjusted to the ambient light inside the stockade. We walked to the latrine. Neither of us spoke. When he was through I motioned and I returned him to the black box. Once we finished the inside detail, 40 or more prisoners fell out in formation. I marched them over to an enclosure for close order drill and PT. I started the PT with some easy warm-up exercises. Then I had them do squat jumps and pushups. After that I started close order drill. After about ten minutes, I asked if anyone would like to be the drill sergeant. If one volunteered, that was good. I let him give the commands and call cadence. I marched them back out of the enclosure to the stockade proper. I heard a few complaints, but they were corrected when I heard one say, “We got a good deal.  Don’t foul it up.” We ate our chow in the prison mess hall. One of the black prisoners from an airborne unit said that if stockade time counted for good time, he preferred the stockade.  Life with his airborne unit was much more rigorous and demanding than stockade life, he said. Stockade life was a piece of cake. I concurred with his assessment.

In the afternoon, we showed the prisoners training films which they had seen over and over. They were not allowed to sleep while watching the films. The room was packed with about 40 men, and it was hot and humid with little, if any, ventilation. The prisoners started nodding off to sleep, but in the back of the room I was sleepy as well so I did not seek to punish them.

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Engaged to Marry

I took a short leave in late December of 1951, at which time Janet and I became engaged. She was in her junior year at Concord College, majoring in Mathematics and English with a minor in Business. She wanted to finish college before we married. She would graduate in June of 1953. My enlistment ended on June 2, 1952, but President Truman extended all enlistments a year, so my discharge date would be June 2, 1953. I came home on some weekend passes to see Janet. An order came down that the extensions had been rescinded by the President. My enlistment would end on August 22, 1952. We set June 7, 1952 as our wedding date. I would leave the Army and find a job, Janet could graduate from college, then I would re-enlist and get my stripes back.

We were married on Saturday, June 7, 1952, in her parents’ home. The wedding ceremony was performed by Mr. Fred Cook, Pastor of Mount Jackson Regular Baptist Church. I had made arrangements with SSgt. Marion Stallard, who was stationed at Sand Hill in Fort Benning, to rent a recently-constructed, three-bedroom house from MSgt. Homer Gatlin and his wife Hazel for $150 a month, which we split. The house was located at 77 Pelham Drive, Benning Hill, a subdivision near Fort Benning and Columbus, Georgia. My brother Warren worked for a coal company that provided him a car. He let me take his Hudson automobile back to Fort Benning, though I never had it registered on the Post. I could take a local bus to Fort Benning for my assigned duty or ride to Sand Hill with Marion and then catch a bus to Harmony Church, a part of the Infantry School for Officer Candidate Training.

Though service in the guard detachment was enjoyable and had its perks, it was not soldiering according to my definition. I was an infantry soldier and would always be an infantry soldier. My desire was to be in a rifle platoon, a rifle company, a rifle battalion, and a rifle regiment. I had looked forward to being stationed at Fort Benning and serving with a rifle regiment perhaps even at Sand Hill. When I decided to leave the Army, I informed Headquarters. The CO inquired as to what I intended to do as a civilian. I explained about my marriage and that my wife would finish college in a year. I would re-enlist at that time or perhaps go to college.

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Discharge

I had thought about re-enlisting in Sasebo, Japan, with Paul Taylor, but decided I would re-enlist stateside. One night about 10:30 when the OD, a Lieutenant Colonel visited our guard detachment, I joined the OD and Master Sergeant Guy in his NCO room. During the conversation, he learned that I was twenty years old, a sergeant first class, and had combat experience. He encouraged me to apply for a Direct Commission. It was tempting, but I had committed myself to Janet and our marriage. I wanted to, but declined.

I gave notice and reported to one of the three large brick quadrangles on the Main Post. There was a minimal three-day discharge process since I was leaving with good intentions and was not required to attend re-enlistment talks. I was discharged on 22 August 1952, having served three years, two months and twenty-one days. There was a bit of a problem with $13.07 unsatisfied indebtedness. To correct this I would have to revoke my discharge and be discharged three days later. But we were pressed for time as Janet had to enroll for her senior year at Concord College. I received my DD214 and discharge signed by Cortlandt K. Krams, Colonel Infantry. We left early the next morning for Athens, West Virginia.

There was no reason for me to go wild as some soldiers did when they returned from Korea. Many GIs purchased a car on their return, had no driving experience, and little concept of speed and coordination. I started driving while working at the dairy farm in 1945 when I was fourteen. Before I joined the Army, I had experience driving a farm tractor, a 1938 Chevrolet truck, and a 1937 Chevy sedan that needed some repair on the steering that had considerable slack while driving.


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Final Reflections

College Years

Though I left the Army, the Army did not leave me. Adjusting to civilian life was quite easy since we had so many things to do with Janet enrolling for her senior year at Concord College, setting up housekeeping, and my seeking employment with no success. As a last resort, I enrolled in Concord College so I would have some income from the GI Bill. The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill, was passed into law to provide various benefits to returning WWII veterans.  I contacted the Veteran's Administration and entered Concord College in the Fall of 1952.  I had to pay my tuition, but was paid a monthly stipend through the GI Bill.  When I was later declared a Disabled Veteran, I had the opportunity to change to Public Law 16. However, it was more restrictive and under Public Law 16 I would have to list all of my objectives and goals. My tuition and supplies would have been paid for, but I would have made less money. Therefore I declined to change from the GI Bill. The Veterans Representative explained to me that if I declined Public Law 16 it would no longer be available to me.

I could count eight hours of credit for my Army service towards a degree in Physical Education. I liked Art, so I selected Art as my major and Physical Education as my minor. Later I was informed that Physical Education could not be declared as a minor, so I had a double major.  At times this caused scheduling conflicts, but they were resolved.

To my surprise, my advisor was Dr. R.E. Klingensmith, my high school principal who used to paddle me for cutting classes and general misbehavior. He left the high school to be Head of the Education Department at Concord College. I asked Janet to inquire if I could get another advisor. She was unaware of my academic past. We hit a stone wall, or rather, I hit a stone wall as he had to be my advisor. To my surprise, he did not ask me to bend over for five licks with the paddle. To his surprise, I took three classes from him--two Educational Psychology classes and a Philosophy class. He was a good teacher. Too bad I did not have him as a teacher in high school.

My first year I floated along with the average amount of effort. My grades were one B, one D, and the rest C's. I broke even on honor points. So far, so good. When I had time off between semesters, I worked for my cousin, Vesper Martin, or Bob Woods, another cousin’s husband, painting houses and commercial buildings. Janet’s parents’ farm joined the college campus, so we walked to our classes. I attended college year round, graduating in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Education and a Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Art. If I had taken two more classes is Psychology, I would have had a minor in Psychology.

We lived with Janet’s parents on their farm until she graduated from Concord College in 1953. She was offered several teaching positions in high schools in Hinton, West Virginia and Pocahontas, Virginia, but opted for a teaching position in Math and English at Beaver High School in Bluefield, West Virginia for the 1953-54 academic year. Beaver High School was the flagship school in Mercer County and southern West Virginia. Dr. Andy Kozak, Chairman of the Math Department at Concord College, before going to teach at Penn State University, developed an experimental program at Beaver High School known as Calgametrics.  It integrated Calculus, Geometry and Algebra, and involved Janet and Mrs. Virginia White as teachers.

In the summer we purchased a Spartan Aircraft trailer from Tabor Trailer Sales owned by J.A. Tabor and moved it to his parents’ trailer park and store located on Frederick Street and Cherry Street cut-off in Bluefield. We were expecting our first child in December 1954. Janet resigned her position at Beaver High School and we moved our trailer to her parents’ farm. My father-in-law had chickens, two hogs, a horse, and a cow that had a calf. This calf was now a milk cow, which he gave to us. I milked the cow every morning before walking up over the hill to my classes at the college and again in the evening. I plowed a garden spot up the hollow quite a distance from the house where we planted a variety of garden vegetables. The garden was adjacent to the meadow on the hill which I plowed with the horse, Dan, and planted three acres of corn for winter food for the cows and horse. This large meadow, the best part of the farm, was later purchased by Concord College (now University) for a baseball field. Our first child, Stella Mae was born in the Bluefield Sanitarium.

J. Arthur Butcher, Head of the Art Department, talked me into going to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio to get a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Art. I sold our cow so we could pay to have our trailer moved to Athens, Ohio, where I enrolled in Ohio University. Lawrence C. “Pappy” Mitchell, my advisor, was Head of the Art Department. At Ohio University, I earned an MFA with a major in Painting and a minor in Ceramics and Art History.

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Career in Art

After graduating in 1956, I was offered several teaching positions in Ohio. I opted for a school in Jefferson County, Alabama--McAdory High School in McCalla. Since Birmingham was a steel city, I had to compete with steel workers who made $700 a month.  I received $300 a month teaching.  Janet was due with our second child in early September, therefore her doctor required that she fly to Birmingham. We sold our steer to purchase her plane ticket from Bluefield to Birmingham via Charleston, West Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia on Viscount Airlines. She flew in late August and our son, Christie, was born on September 4th at Birmingham Baptist Hospital.

In the spring of 1957, J. Arthur Butcher phoned me about a summer position in the Art Department at Glenville State College in Glenville, West Virginia. I accepted the position offered by Dr. Somerville, Academic Dean of Glenville State College. During the last term of summer school, Dr. Somerville informed me of a position in the Marshall College Laboratory School, for which I was interviewed by Dr. D. Banks Wilburn, Dean of Teacher Education.

While teaching at Marshall, I was also employed by the Huntington Art Galleries to teach ceramic classes to adults on Wednesday nights and to children for a half day on Saturdays. After teaching two years at Marshall and the summer sessions at Glenville, President Harry Heflin wanted me to teach full-time at Glenville starting the fall term in 1959.  By this time we were expecting the birth of our third child. RuthAnn was born in Weston at the Osteopathic Hospital. Two years later our fourth child, Irving, was born in the same hospital.  Dr. Wilburn was not pleased when I resigned my position at the Marshall College Laboratory School. However, some years later when he came to Glenville State College as President, he exhibited no hard feelings toward me.

While at Glenville State College, I was awarded two Fulbright Professorships. The first was to the Southport College of Art and Design in Southport, England for the 1985-86 school year. The second was to Anglia Polytechnic in Brentwood, England for the 1990-91 school year. In 1992 I participated in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Workshop for State Teachers. Also, while at Glenville State College, I taught two summer sessions--painting and photography, on location at Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1974 and 1979. 

In 1980, a sabbatical leave was granted for me to travel to England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, India, Thailand, China, Korea and Japan to visit individual potters and museums. In England I visited the Leach Pottery in St Ives, as well as Michael Cardew at his pottery in Winfried Bridge. In Korea I visited the potter Woo Dong.

During my career, I was a member of several professional art organizations, with the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts most important to me. While at Glenville State College I had several articles published in Ceramics Monthly magazines, beginning with my work being featured on the front cover in May 1969. The articles included “Reed Handles" in November 1972, “Plaster Bats” in February 1973, and “Casting and Using Lid Bats” in June 1979. My work was featured in Vista USA, an Exxon publication, in the Winter 1965-66 edition.

In addition to the publications, I was selected to enter my ceramic work in various invitational shows around the country. Twice (1979 and 1987) I was invited to enter work at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC. In 1974 I was invited to enter work in the American Crafts Council Invitational Exhibition, Greenville Museum in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1978 I participated in the Union Carbide Show, New York, New York. Also in 1993, I was invited to the Year of American Crafts Invitational, Arts and Letter Series.  The State of West Virginia called upon me to demonstrate and exhibit my work representing the State at the following: 1964 – West Virginia Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York, New York, 1968 – Arcade of Pogue’s in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1971 – Armory Travel Show in Washington, DC, and 1972 – Artist’s Convention at Astro Hall in Houston, Texas, just to name a few.

My work, which was entered in various exhibits, won many awards over the years. Many awards were won in West Virginia and many were won outside the state such as: 1966 – Craftsmen USA '66, Museum of Contemporary Crafts, National Merit Award, 1963 and 1970 – Appalachian Corridors, Purchase and Merit Award, 1966 – 24th Ceramic National, Syracuse, NY, 1966 – 9th International Exhibition of Ceramic Art, Smithsonian Institute and 1972 – Marietta College Craft Regional, Purchase and Merit Award.

Many of my art students at Glenville State College entered graduate school upon graduation to earn an MFA and or Doctorate Degree in Art Education. Many of these artists now have their own businesses in Ceramics, Computer Graphics and Design. In 1997 I retired from Glenville State College as full Professor of Art and Head of the Art Department.

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World Travelers

Prior to and after retirement, Janet and I have travelled the world and have visited nearly 40 countries. We have been in all 50 states and most of the Canadian provinces. In the summer of 1970, I took the family on a camping road trip to Alaska. I drove the Alcan Highway and we returned via the Inside Passage on the MV Matanuska from Alaska to British Columbia. On the way back to West Virginia we visited with my cousin, Oscar Scott, who at the time was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. During the 1983-84 winter break while at Glenville State College, we went to Austria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

Upon retirement we went to Australia and New Zealand for three months in 1997. We have been in every province in Australia. In 1999 we visited Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada before returning to Australia and New Zealand for over a month in 2000. In the Fall of 2000 we took our grandson Jason to Finland, Sweden, and England prior to his study abroad with Virginia Tech’s architectural program based in Italy.

Due to a medical condition which I developed, it was inconvenient for me to travel abroad so we took several road trips in the United States. The most memorable one was travelling Route 50 to California, driving down the California coast to Los Angeles and returning via Route 66. In 2009 I was ready to travel internationally again and we took the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok. In 2010 we returned to Korea and in 2013 we sailed from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale through the Panama Canal.

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Nurturing Children

Janet and I decided that it was best for her to be a stay-at-home mom and raise our four children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. She was a substitute teacher in the Gilmer County School System for a few years in the early 1970s.

Our daughter, Stella, married Gary Moon and they have four children: Jason, Joshua, Jonathan and Janice. Our son, Christie, married Lisa Jones and they have three children: Julie, Joe and Jennie. We have six great grandchildren.

Both of our daughters graduated from Glenville State College with Business Degrees. Six of our grandchildren have earned degrees from State Colleges and Universities.  Christie passed away in 2005 from pancreatic cancer during his career at DuPont in Charleston, West Virginia.

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Searching for Clarity

Little did I realize that a repertoire of answered and unanswered questions followed me from Korea, embedded to plague me in searching for clarity. I grew up during WWII, which was so diametrically different from the Korean War, both at home and abroad at the fighting front. In WWII there was more national unity. During the Korean War there was more disunity with the government politicians in Washington and Generals in the Pentagon.

During the Korean War President Harry S. Truman called it a Police Action and Dean Acheson, Secretary of State, referred to it as the Korean Conflict, so the Korean War as a war never gained much traction except with the infantrymen fighting for their life in combat in Korea. On the 45th day of the Korean War, at age nineteen, I got off the deuce and a half (truck) at The Notch, a noted landmark in a mountain pass near Chungam-ni. A company runner met us and we followed him up the steep mountainside to the CP of C Company.  Though it was twilight, the heat and humidity were oppressive.  We met the Company Commander, Capt. Bonnie Pannell, who welcomed his first replacements. He spoke briefly about C Company’s combat policy before sending us to the 1st Platoon. To me, he was very impressive as a CO - one I could trust – one who would have the best interest of his men.

I entered a rifle squad of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Eighth Army. When I entered the 1st Platoon there were only 17 men in the platoon instead of the 42 men that should have been in a rifle platoon, according to the Table of Organization (T/O). There were 121 enlisted men and four officers in C Company instead of the 206 men that should have been in a rifle company, according to T/O. The 35th Infantry Regiment had two under-strength battalions instead of three battalions, according to T/O. This was due to the drawdown to meet the budget which required the reduction of one battalion of twelve regiments.

We lost many fellow soldiers (KIA and WIA) due to the shortage of men and equipment caused by the cutback of funding for the military ordered by President Harry S. Truman and Louis Johnson, Secretary of Defense. They had all but crippled our military with less than 600,000 men in uniform. We went to war with what we had, but not to war with what we needed. We were expected to cover a front much greater than was assigned to a rifle regiment in WWII. Much of our equipment and weapons was worn-out leftovers from WWII.  I had a new M1 Garand rifle, but old ordnance. The second hand grenade I threw in a night attack in our perimeter was a dud.

The media was never concerned about our plight to stand or die, but were busy defending the Administration in Washington and the Pentagon. They reported that our performance was due to lack of training, soldiers of low mentality, physical unfitness, and poor leadership at all levels in Eighth Army--glossing over the spending cuts while we withdrew into the Pusan Perimeter with our backs to the wall. It was evident they did not have anything at their disposal to cover the backs of us who fought and lived in jeopardy every day. Even the Pusan Perimeter was not small enough to expand our manpower or the equipment shortage we faced.

As a rifleman, I can only speak for myself and our platoon. The following was our considered opinion about the leadership from squad level to the Division Commander. In the 1st Platoon, we had excellent dedicated squad leaders – Sergeants James E. Gammons, Frank Winniman, Bartolome Ribac, Richard Bean, and Louis Boitano. Our Platoon Sergeant, MSgt. James R "Pappy" Mills, exhibited innate leadership qualities and battle savvy. He was highly respected by his men in the platoon. The company officers, Lieutenants Louis J. DeVito, Arthur B. Evans, and Joe D. Spann, were excellent. Our Company Commander, Capt. Bonnie Pannell, commanded the best company in the 35th Infantry Regiment. He had a command presence and was highly respected by his men, who considered him to be the best CO in the Eighth Army. Pannell saw action in the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, came up through the ranks, was a no-nonsense commander, was short on words but long on results, and had the utmost concern for his men. The two Battalion Commanders, Lt. Col. Bernard G. Teeter and later Lt. Col. Lloyd Huggins, were exceptional commanders. A 1945 West Point graduate, Lt. Sydney B. Berry, later Lieutenant General, a Platoon leader in A Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, replaced the Company Commander of A Company, whose performance in combat was poor.

Within a few weeks he turned A Company around through his excellent leadership, personal courage, and impeccable integrity to become the best company or equal to the best company in the regiment. I saw him often when he visited our Company Commander when we were in reserve. After leaving the Army, I corresponded with General Berry by letter and phone. He always spoke highly of Col. Frank Fisher, the 35th Infantry Regiment Commander, and the rigorous, demanding, and purpose-driven training in Japan that made the 35th infantry win battles in Korea. Another outstanding leader of note was Col. Gilbert J. Check, 1st Battalion Commander, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. To insinuate that we had poor leadership in the 27th and 35th Infantry Regiments was misinformed reporting.

The 35th Infantry Regiment Commander, Col. Henry G. "Hammering Hank" Fisher, commanded the 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division in WWII. He possessed the knowledge and skill of employing weapons, deployment of troops and tactical astuteness. His peers judged Colonel Fisher to be the best Regimental Commander in Eighth Army. Maj. Gen. William B. Kean, Commander of the 25th Infantry Division, was recognized as the superior Division Commander in Korea. There is no question as to the greatness of the great Gen. Douglas MacArthur in every aspect of his life and in the military. He had many critics both in the government and in the military. Of critics, Thomas Newberry wrote, “Jealousy is the little soul’s grouch at seeing its own ideals rejected and realized in another. Envy is the unwilling respect that inferiority pays to superiority.” History has proved that General MacArthur was right over and over again on almost every issue. The Inchon landing and its success was proof of his military ability and genius.  We sensed a few of the high ranking officers who served in the European Theater of Operation (ETO) and Pacific Theater during WWII had attitude problems expressed in hypocrisy, evil speaking, guile, malice, and envy. The considered opinion in our platoon and many others in the company was that some who served in the ETO had a superior attitude to those who served in the Pacific Theater. At the platoon level we did not have time to knit-pick the performance of each other. If such were the case, it would have to have been a glaring issue. We fought as a team--it was all for one and one for all.

A subtle but effective scheme was launched, both partly political and partly militarily, to oust Gen. Walton Walker and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Several political and military people were selected from the Administration and Pentagon to visit Eighth Army. Gen. Matthew Ridgway, Averell Harriman, Lauris Norstad, and aides visited General MacArthur in Tokyo. The delegation flew to Taegu, Korea to visit General Walker and staff. Their visit was to find fault with General Walker’s performance as Commander of Eighth Army that would coincide to substantiate the predetermined report they were to submit of their findings. General Ridgway criticized Eighth Army’s lack of initiative and leadership in combat. The staff did not project an aggressive fighting spirit. General Ridgway wrote a condemning report on General Walker’s leadership, being unable to name some of his staff and various negative statements that the Korean Army was doing much better than Eighth Army. The day this delegation flew in to Taegu, on the 7th of August 1950, the first major counter offensive of the Korean War was launched consisting of 5th Marines, 5th and 35th Infantry Regiments, and various supporting elements known as Task Force Kean to capture Chinju. This aggressive action was not mentioned by General Ridgway. Did he not view Task Force Kean as an aggressive action? He sought only the negative things, not the positive things that had been successful. When General Walker was killed in an accident, General Ridgway replaced him. His presence with his military combat uniform and its accoutrements did not change the complexion of the war or impress the riflemen in our platoon or the enemy platoons, but brought fresh initiatives to the media to give him utmost coverage. He commented that he took over the defeated and dismal Eighth Army.

My return to the 1st Platoon in late November 1950 was a happy occasion with everyone greeting me back to the platoon. They were a very upbeat bunch of men, some in their teens, in a forlorn, dull, frigid and forsaken landscape in North Korea.  They did not fit General Ridgway’s description of men in our company or the 35th Infantry Regiment in Eighth Army. At last the talking war had their men in positions for an exit out of the Police Action or the Korean Conflict to satisfy the Administration and the Pentagon. A truce was the welcome outcome. Would it not have been better to solve the problem and unite the two Koreas as was the intent of General MacArthur?

General James A. Van Fleet should have been the one to replace General Walker as Commander of Eighth Army instead of General Ridgway. He was a fighting field soldier instead of a desk officer. He did not subscribe to President Truman’s policy to maintain Eighth Army approximately along the 38th Parallel and seek a compromise settlement with the enemy. General Van Fleet was not a political soldier, but a professional soldier. He was liked by his division and corps commanders.

The United Nations Units for the most part were not combat units. Many of them were poorly trained and equipped. Lack of communication was a main hindrance. Many times they were assigned to noncombat roles. The British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealanders could be relied on, but the fact of the matter is, the Americans did the bulk of the fighting.

I was assigned to the 1st Platoon on 7 August 1950. I served in every position in a rifle squad – Rifleman, 1st Scout (Point Man), Assistant BAR Man, BAR Man, Assistant Squad Leader, and Squad Leader. When I rotated to the States, Hank Bulger became Squad Leader. We discussed who would serve in his position as Assistant Squad Leader. We made our choice not on friends or favors, but based on who was best qualified to serve the best interest of our squad. As men in a rifle squad, no one wanted our job or wanted to show us how to do our job. I served with the 1st Platoon until 10 August 1951 except for 45 days in the Tokyo Army Hospital from 29 September – 12 November 1950 recovering from grenade and gunshot wounds. I left the 1st Platoon at age twenty.

While one cannot train for actual combat, my fourteen weeks of Basic Training at Fort Knox, the Leadership School at Fort Hood, and soldiering with A Company, 12th AIB at Fort Hood were most helpful. The seven months in A Company, 12th AIB on maneuvers and field exercises week after week involving tanks, halftracks and infantry proved valuable in Korea. After conversing with other soldiers and working with them, I realized that my Basic Training was superior at Fort Knox compared to some other training centers.

The policy of our government at the time, as I understood it, was to contain Communism and its expansion. But not all in Washington held this view and sought a more liberal policy. In fact, they wanted to hold talks on various national security issues seeking delay or appeasement to confuse the issues. The liberals convinced our government not to upset our allies or other countries. I believe it was important to intervene in the North Korean invasion of South Korea. More support, not less support from our government, of General MacArthur was needed in prosecution of the war to unite the two Koreas, a blunder of WWII. Both the government and many of the Generals in the Pentagon in Washington sought to thwart the operation after the first 100 days of the war, seeking favors and friends for personal advantage or political gain.

The United Nations was of little or no help in Korea. Many of the various nations committing troops to the cause in Korea committed only small units and those were not combat units. The UN units that took part in combat were poorly-trained and lacked combat equipment. Communication problems arose and often many of the UN units were in the way. America did most of the fighting with the largest commitment of troops, supplies and equipment. Today the United States must keep troops in Korea to prevent what has happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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Impact of War

The Korean War has had considerable impact on my life, which I was unaware of for some time. A few of the things I am certainly aware of is my environment, space, and surroundings--such as sounds, both low and high, peripheral movements, slow or fast or without sound, when my back is not covered or my vision is hindered frontally. Also, I experience concentration and diminished attention span. Others are not aware of the impact on me unless it is conspicuous.

Upon my return to the States in 1951, I was required to take all the various tests that I had taken prior to Basic Training because my records were lost in Korea. During my discharge proceedings at Fort Benning in 1952, a clerk typist asked me questions as he typed the information on my DD214 form. I answered the questions to the best of my memory. Some of the information is incorrect due to the clerk typist’s ineptness or my lack of ability to make the answers plain. He appeared to be working on a time schedule. I was separated from the service on a Temporary Service Record and Dischargee’s Affidavit.

In 1953, my brother Jack, a WWII vet, told me about a Disabled American Veterans (DAV) meeting at the Memorial Building in Princeton that I should attend. I did and a form was filled out by a DAV Service Officer. I went to Huntington, West Virginia, for a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination and was awarded a 30 percent service connected disability. Some years later I asked for another evaluation and it was denied. Some recent adjustments have upgraded evaluations for compensation. In the autumn of 1953, I went to Saint Luke’s Hospital in Bluefield, West Virginia. The doctor examined me but said it was not appendicitis. I had occasional pain in the upper right side of my abdomen. In 1967-68 I went to the VA Hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia, concerning severe pain in my upper abdomen. The doctor put me in a surgical ward. They did many tests on me and after 17 days, discharged me from the hospital.

A few days later, I got a letter from the hospital to return for a consultation. The surgeon, Dr. Catalino Mendoza, said that I had Amoebiasis, which is an intestinal infection.  He said that I could not be admitted to the hospital for treatment, but he would write a prescription for drugs and for a civilian doctor to give me the shots. One prescription was Emetine and the other was Carbasone. Both are anti-protozoal drugs. Dr. Charles Lively in Weston, West Virginia, gave me the six injections of Emetine. I took ten Carbasone tablets for ten days. I was checked by the State Health Department by sending stool specimens for testing. They were negative. I still have some stomach problems occasionally. I only know of two persons who have had Amoebiasis. One was a WWII vet who served in the South Pacific and the other was a man from Chicago. I contracted the Amoeba in Korea.

I am a disabled veteran and receive compensation for grenade wounds to my wrist, upper arm, neck and head and for a gunshot wound to my right shoulder. I have been satisfied with the treatment for medical conditions at the veteran’s hospitals. Some recent tests that I took at the veteran's hospital confirmed that I have a service connection for residuals of traumatic brain injury directly related to military service. VA examination and service records show I sustained shrapnel wounds with reported loss of consciousness during active service.

As mentioned earlier, in 1980 I visited South Korea on a sabbatical leave. I had corresponded with a North Korean who had fled south and was an interpreter for Eighth Army. After the war he worked for some missionary groups and was converted to Christianity. We met with Korean Christian students who attended Seoul National University. We certainly enjoyed the Christian fellowship we had with them. I also met a Korean potter who was a Korean National Treasure. We arranged for him to come to America to exhibit his work and conduct workshops at Glenville State College and Brooke County High School in Wellsburg, West Virginia. He donated some of his work to officials and institutions.

Again we visited Korea in 2012. The Christians in Korea have grown at a phenomenal rate since the Korean War. I seek to help some of them in various ways. The group that assisted me on this visit consisted of about 220 assemblies, meeting in various parts of the country. The assembly we had most contact with was in north Seoul with about 450 believers in fellowship. In fact, as of this date (February 2015) we are having visits with three Korean girls--one who stayed with us for several months in 2011. I have had two books, The Great Salvation by F.B. Hole and The Believer Established by C.A. Coates, along with a pamphlet, What do I Learn from Scripture? by J.N. Darby, translated into Korean and published (1000 copies each) in Korea for free distribution in the Christian assemblies. There are many missionaries from Korea that take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to Southeast Asia.

Some fifty plus years ago a colleague gave me a magazine, and the cover picture was of a locomotive engine and an engineer looking at the drive wheels. Inside the magazine was a quiz. The engineer noticed a spot on the outer rim of one of the wheels, which was six feet in diameter, and wondered, “How far does the spot travel in a mile?”

I worked out my answer and sent it to the editor.  I got a card back from the editor stating I had the correct answer.  A point on the outer rim of the wheel will travel a greater distance than the circumference on each revolution and is known as a cycloid

I first learned about cycloids as a young child from my brother, Jack.

Life perhaps can be equated to the revolution of a wheel – the wheel of life. The beginning of the revolution and the end of the revolution equal the span of life. Both the circumference and the cycloid begin and end on the track. The circumference of a wheel never leaves the track, whereas the cycloid leaves the track and travels a greater distance than the circumference.

Many lives appear to be characterized by inconsequential experiences or ordinary living that fill up the circumference. Some lives, like mine, are characterized by a life that cannot be compressed into a circumference, but are characterized by a cycloid.

My life from childhood to my current age of eighty-four has been filled with variety – a full spectrum of experiences that cannot be compressed into a circumference. My experiences have afflicted me with extreme sorrow, and with unspeakable joy and with despair.

No chance has brought this ill to me
‘Tis God’s sweet will, so let it be.
He seeth what I cannot see,
There is a ‘need be’ for each pain;
And He will one day make it plain;
That earthly loss is Heavenly gain.
         - Author Unknown

The cherished memories of childhood
Do not fade away.
Neither do they take flight
But reappear to cheer us through the day
And a comfort refrain at night.
          - RA13328908

I trust these experiences will continue to prompt me to emulate what is written below.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. - Philippians 4:11-13

 

 

 

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