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  #1  
Old 08-29-2007, 04:43 AM
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Interesting Army Story about Korea

May 20, 2001

By Arthur J. King

The sixth of August 1929, I was born in Marion, Mississippi. After the Korean war started in 1950, I joined the US Army. They put me in the 15th Infantry, Third Division, and trained me to be a rifleman, then later, a mortarman.

After training, we shipped out of Navy Pier 91 in Washington state and went to Tokyo, Japan for seven days of cold-weather equipment familiarization. They gave us Mickey Mouse boots with leather tops and rubber bottoms. Or, something like that. Then we went into Pusan, Korea, in January 1951.

This is where I started sharpening my shovel. You see, all our forces were run down from the North to the Pusan Perimeter. We were trapped there. We had to fight our way out of there.

Pincer

But General MacArthur had inserted the Marines near the source of the Han River in a pincer movement. Ahh, the North Koreans and hordes of Chinese Army were then being attacked from two points. It was working in our favor. But, all our American made shovels were manufactured with dull edges.

This is how I did something on my own to make the sharpest shovel in Korea. Where ever I marched, I dug a foxhole. Then, I would dig a latrine for the officers. Then, I would dig a latrine for us enlisted guys. When we fought our way Northward, I dug a new foxhole at our new position. Then I would dig another latrine for the officers. Then another one for us again.

There was a lot going on besides shoveling. When we fought our way up to converge with the Marines, our two units fought side-by-side all the way to where the Han River passes by outside of Seoul, the capital city.

But we were still in foxholes. Foxholes have to be dug around the Command Post to protect it. At night, we take turns standing watches and sleeping. In daylight, we fortified our positions with camouflage, and by weather-proofing them so as not to stand or sit in water. If we moved up, as we always did, we dug in again and did it all over.

Tough it out

Living in foxholes, our WW II Combat Rations were brought to us. Not often, but sometimes mail would come through. No foxhole was ever comfortable. On occasion, I could look out to sea and see the USS Missouri steaming across the horizon. Her big 16 inch guns could blast off a hillside with one salvo. I used to imagine those sailors going down to wash up, eat, and sleep in soft bunks after a battle. Ahh, that must be nice. But they didn't have any sharp shovels.


Remember, this was January, February, March and April of 51. Every few weeks I would hop on a truck which took us back a number of miles where we could get a shave, shower, clean clothes and new boots.

The first time, I made the mistake of looking in a mirror. Lord! You never saw such an image looking back in all your life. I was ashamed. I could have died from filth.

Back in our foxholes, we learned something the hard way. We learned that the Marines used the command "saddle up" for getting out and moving forward. We knew that we'd use it, too.

Saddle up'

So when us boots heard it we jumped out of our foxholes ready to go. The Platoon Sergeant yelled, "What are you doing?" We explained that we heard the command to "saddle up." "No you didn't." He barked at us. "That's a Doodle bird. Get used to it." That Doodle bird's call sure sounded like "saddle up," to me. I wondered if it was the Chinese making that call.

When Gen. MacArthur, Gen. Ridgeway, and Gen. Van Fleet came to the front lines to see how things were going, I marveled at how clean they were in a war zone. They had clean shaves, a sharp crease in their uniforms, and the shiniest boots ever. But they also made me mad. They would have us fight for territory, then a few days later, withdraw. I cursed.

Next, we'd fight for that same territory again. That was a lot of digging in. What I didn't realize was that tactic spread out the enemy. The Air Force would then bomb and strafe them. That reduced their numbers so they would have less to overwhelm our units.

Ahh, good Officers.

Passing through towns and villages, the people came out and waved American flags at us. Except for the little kids. They waved both American and North Korean flags because they didn't know which set of warriors were trouncing through their towns this time.

I got chewed out for feeding them some of my rations. But they were very hungry, and cold. Bless their little souls.

Arthur J. King, Korea veteran, is a resident of Meridian.
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:59 PM
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Interesting, but somewhat confused. If he was with the 15th Inf., then he could not have taken part in the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, at least not in January 1951. That took place Sept '50 after we landed at INCHON. As far as I know, the 3rd Inf. Div. first went into action in Nov-Dec. 1950 with the Tenth Corps. I was attached to 1/15 with a Naval Gunfire team from ANGLICO, 1st SigBn, 1st MarDiv. We covered the withdrawal from CHOSIN and the evacuation from HUNGNAM until 24 Dec 1950. The UN Forces in early 1951 were hardly 'trapped'. Recovering and reorganizing after the disaster of the Autumn of 1950, yes. It seems the original writer was presenting an over-all view of the first 9-10 months of the war. Still a nice description of the joys of owning a sharp entrenching tool.
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:12 PM
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Thumbs up

Thank you for setting the record straight, GunnySan. These things are good to know.
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:08 PM
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Wink A BIT OF MANGLED MEMORY...

...Yep, GunnySan--The old GI has confused the Pusan Perimiter with the regrouping after MacArthur's mad dash for the Yalu failed...
...From your Bio, it appears you might have come ashore at Pusan with the 1st Marine Brigade in August, 1950. That's when the tide turned against the North Korean advance. The Brigade stopped it, pushed it backward, and the whole 1st Division landed in full force at Inchon on September 15th--which slammed the NKs reeling back to where they had come from...
...By late October, they were finished, driven out of Pyongyang and into their farthest northern frontier. Thereafter, the fateful decision was made to race on to the Yalu River--with the US 8th Army heading up west of the Taebaek Mountains, and the 1st Marine Division crossing over from the Choisin Reservoir...
...The Marines had already hoofed it about 85 miles on yak trails to the Reservoir, and it was another 75 miles over the mountains to join the 8th Army on the other side...In temperatures which hit 20-30 degrees below zero...
...The Chinese were waiting in massive ambush on both flanks of the mountains. Don't think it has ever been explained, how those thousands of PLA troops managed to swarm across the frozen river and set up their dual traps undetected...
...Don't think you guys had Mickey Mouse boots that early either. Unless my memory is doddery too, they replaced Duck Boots in late 51 or possibly 52...My feet still agonize when my brain recalls the swollen-numbing pain of those freezing wet tootsies begging for heat--A stream of warm piss on them was one option...
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:10 PM
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Correction

...Pusan Perimeter...
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:55 PM
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BuckStripes,
You're right. I went over with 1/5. No Mickey Mouse. we had those damn Shoepacs. The idea was good, if you had the time to change the inserts. Most people couldn't, so everyone ended up with some level of cold injury to the feet. The unlucky ones got a heavy frostbite and lost toes, feet or worse.
The PLA was able to move in because they moved only at night and did not use roads. They holed up during the day in the hills and waited until they had enough troops in position. The brains in Japan didn't believe the Chinese threat so they didn't recon for them. Even after we captured some in October and reported, they didn't believe. 'Just a few isolated Volunteers'. Even after we reported that they had practically wiped out a ROK division up north of Hamhung, they didn't believe.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:04 PM
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...Frostbite...

...GunnySan: A few years ago, a Choisin vet from 7th Marines told me the VA finally relented--Gave disability benefits for frostbite damages to everyone who could prove they were at the Reservoir...
...Lottsa ills cropped up afterward, diabetes etc. Anyway, most of the severely burned guys were already dead when the disabilities were awarded. Might be something there for you, in case you didn't know about it...
...Shoepacs=DuckBoots. Always reminded me of footgear worn by duck hunters...
...MacArthur told Harry Truman: Marines only ran into a few scraggly bands of Chinese volunteers on their way up the Peninsula in October...
...After the debacle of November-December, Truman believed MacArthur flat-out lied to him--which was the beginning of Caesar's downfall...
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Old 09-06-2007, 01:44 PM
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BuckStripes,
That's right about the Cold Injury. The battle for recognition was fought mainly by members of The Chosin Few. Some had their feet and hands checked at the reunion in Portland, OR, 1996. Membership in The Chosin Few practically guarantees favorable consideration, also anyone who fought in the Battle of The Bulge in WWII. It is usually just a matter of determining the degree of injury. Anyone who served in the colder parts of Korea during the war could have cold injury.
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Old 10-15-2007, 05:38 PM
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...Huh?
....
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