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Battle of the Chosin Reservoir
31st Regimental Combat Team, 11/27/50-12/1/50

History  Bert '53  On Line


The Death of A Regimental Combat Team

About 3000 American soldiers came. Over 1,000 stayed forever. They fought and died on a 10-mile stretch of frozen, snow-covered dirt road on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir.


The Battle of the Changjin

Concentration at Hungnam



1stBtn32ndIR

Principal Officers

Captured Standard

Beijing KW Museum

TFF Breakout Attempt

Step by Step

The core of this account is taken verbatim from the Army report Chosin Reservoir. It is largely supplemented by extracts from a more definitive analysis, "East Of Chosin", Roy E. Appleman, 1987, and Chinese photographs and accounts in their Korean War Museum at Beijing. B.L.Kortegaard

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
     SUN TZU (500 B.C.)

Be ready for what the enemy is capable of doing, not what you think he will do.
     Basic military maxim.



* It was bitter cold. The temperature was below zero. The wind howled. Snow fell-a snow so dry that dust from the road mixed with it in yellowish clouds that swirled about the column of trucks. Tundra-like, bleak, and without vegetation in most places, the land was depressing.

Huddled together in the back of the trucks, the men of the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, stomped their feet on the truck beds in futile attempts to keep their limbs from becoming stiff and numb. Most of them wore long woolen underwear, two pairs of socks, a woolen shirt, cotton field trousers over a pair of woolen trousers, shoepacs, pile jacket, wind-resistant reversible parka with hood, and trigger-finger mittens of wool insert and outer shell. To keep their ears from freezing they tied wool scarves around their heads underneath their helmets. Still the cold seeped through. Occasionally the entire column ground to a halt to permit the men to dismount and exercise for a few minutes. [1]

Lt.Col. Don C. Faith commanded the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry. As part of the 7th Infantry Division and of X Corps (Maj.Gen. Edward M. Almond), the battalion was moving from Hamhung north to relieve marines on the east shore of Chosin Reservoir and then to continue the attack to the Yalu River. A man could take even stinging, stiffening cold if it meant the end of a war. And that was how things looked on this 25th day of November 1950. In fact, just before Faith's battalion left Hamhung some of the men had listened to a news broadcast from Tokyo describing the beginning of a United Nations offensive in Korea designed to terminate the war quickly. Originating in General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's headquarters, the report predicted that U.S. divisions would be back in Japan by Christmas. It had been cheering news. [2]

Having assembled three divisions at the east coast port of Hungnam at the end of October, General Almond had launched his X Corps on an offensive with the objective of reaching the Manchurian border as soon as possible. [3] By the third week of November the corps was scattered across an area of more than four thousand square miles of bare, bleak, and rugged mountains. The 1st Marine Division, attacking along both sides of Chosin Reservoir, was more than fifty miles inland. One regiment of the 7th Division-the 17th Infantry-had gone more than a hundred miles north of Hungnam and had reached the Yalu River on 21 November. [4] Other units of that division were separated by straightline distances of seventy or eighty miles. Road distances, tortuously slow, were much longer. North Koreans had offered only slight resistance against X Corps advances, but the obstacles of terrain and weather were tremendous.

Passing engineer crews working on the twisted, shelf-like road notched into the side of precipitous slopes, the truck column bearing Colonel Faith and his men northward at last reached Hagaru-ri at the south end of Chosin Reservoir. Several Marine Corps units were located in Hagaru-ri. The truck column passed a few tents and small groups of marines huddled around bonfires. [5] When the road forked, Colonel Faith's column followed the right-hand road, which led past the few desolate houses in Hagaru-ri toward the east side of the reservoir.

At least one or two men from each company were frostbite casualties late that afternoon when the battalion closed into defensive positions a mile or so north of Hagaru-ri. The night was quiet. There were warm-up tents behind the crests of the hills and the men spent alternate periods manning defense positions and getting warm.

The morning of 26 November was clear and cold. Since the marines still occupied the area, Colonel Faith waited for more complete orders, which had been promised. Toward noon, the assistant commander of the 7th Division (Brig.Gen. Henry I. Hodes) arrived at Faith's command post with more information on the planned operation. Having flown to Hagaru-ri by light aircraft, he had driven north by jeep. Additional 7th Division units, he explained to Colonel Faith, were then en route to Chosin Reservoir. The commander of the 31st Infantry Regiment (Col. Allan D. MacLean) was to arrive soon to take command of all units on the east side of the reservoir. He was bringing with him his own 3d Battalion, his Heavy Mortar Company, his Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon, a detachment of medical personnel, and the 57th Field Artillery Battalion.

The 57th Field Artillery Battalion would be short one firing battery but would have Battery D, 15th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion-a unit equipped with halftracks mounting quadruple caliber .50 machine guns and dual 40-mm guns. [6]

General Hodes said the Marine regiment would move on the following day to join the rest of the 1st Marine Division in an attack aimed at securing another important road northwest from Hagaru-ri. The mission of MacLean's task force, and thus of Colonel Faith's battalion, was to secure the important road running along the east side of the reservoir and thence north to the Manchurian border. [7]

When Colonel MacLean arrived with his staff later that evening, he stated his intentions of attacking north as soon as his task force arrived. He approved Colonel Faith's plan to take over the northernmost defensive position as soon as the marines vacated it the next morning. [8]

Monday, 27 November, was another clear, cold day. Marine trucks were on the road soon after dawn shuttling troops south. By noon, when the road was clear again, Colonel Faith moved his battalion north. The rest of Colonel MacLean's force arrived that afternoon, moving into position about three or four miles south of Faith's battalion.

CCF 9th Army moves on Chosin

As night fell on 27 November, the first order of business was defense, although a continuation of the northward drive the marines had begun was planned for the next day. Lending greater force to common knowledge that Chinese forces in undetermined strength were roaming the mountains in the vicinity of Chosin Reservoir, the marines had told Colonel Faith that on the day before several Chinese prisoners had revealed the presence of three fresh divisions operating in the area of the reservoir. Their mission, the prisoners had said, was to sever the American supply route. [9] The marines also told Faith's men that on the previous night, in this same location, a Chinese patrol had pulled a marine from his foxhole, disarmed him, and beaten him.

With this in mind, Colonel Faith placed his companies in a perimeter that lay across the road facing north, with the right flank bent south to face mountains that loomed high to the east. During the late afternoon the companies dug in their positions and cut fields of fire through some scrub brush on the hills. After breaking through eight or ten inches of frozen earth, the digging was easy. There were no stones in the ground. Colonel Faith set up his command post in a few farm houses in a small valley less than a thousand yards behind the front lines. It got dark early, still bitterly cold. For an hour or two after dark there was the sound of shell bursts around the perimeter since forward observers had not completed the registration of artillery and mortar defensive fires before dark. For another hour or two, until after 2100, it was quiet.

The battalion adjutant, having driven a hundred and fifty miles that day from division headquarters, arrived with two weeks' mail. A few minutes later an officer from Colonel MacLean's headquarters brought the operation order for the attack scheduled for dawn the next morning. Colonel Faith called his company commanders, asking them to bring their mail orderlies and to report to his command post for the attack order.

The enemy attacked while the meeting was in progress. Probing patrols came first, the first one appearing in front of a platoon near the road. When the friendly platoon opened fire Company A's executive officer (Lt. Cecil G. Smith), suspecting that the enemy force was a reconnaissance patrol sent to locate specific American positions, tried to stop the fire. He ran up and down the line shouting: "Don't fire! Don't fire!" But by the time he succeeded, the enemy force had evidently discovered what it needed to know and had melted away into the darkness. In the meantime, enemy patrols began to repeat this pattern at other points along the defensive perimeter. A few minutes after midnight the patrolling gave way to determined attack. While one Chinese company struck south along the road, another plunged out of the darkness from the east to strike the boundary between the two rifle companies that were east of the road.

CCF 80th Division attacks 1st Btn 32Infantry

The defensive perimeter began to blaze with fire. In addition to directing steady mortar and small-arms fire against Colonel Faith's battalion, the Chinese kept maneuvering small groups around the perimeter to break the line. As one enemy group climbed a steep ridge toward a heavy machine gun operated by Cpl. Robert Lee Armentrout, the corporal discovered he could not depress his gun enough to hit the enemy. He then picked up his weapon, tripod and all, cradled it in his arms, and beat off the attack.

Capt. Dale L. Seever

As the night wore on not every position along the perimeter held as well. Within two or three hours after they first attacked, the Chinese had seized and organized the highest point on the two ridgelines that had belonged to the two companies on the east side of the road. Loss of this ground seriously weakened the defense of both companies, and also permitted the enemy to fire into a native house where Capt. Dale L. Seever had set up his command post. Forced to vacate, he moved his Weapons Platoon and command group to the front line to help defend what ground he had left. On the extreme right flank the Chinese forced two platoons out of position. On the left side of the road they circled wide around the left flank and seized a mortar position.

Wire communications with Colonel MacLean's headquarters and with the 57th Field Artillery Battalion went out soon after the attack started. After establishing radio communication, which was never satisfactory, Colonel Faith learned that the Chinese were also attacking the other units of MacLean's task force. This explained why the artillery, involved with the more immediate necessity of defending its own position, was unable to furnish sustained support to Faith's battalion. [10]

Capt. Edward B. Scullion

Colonel Faith's battalion was still in place when daylight came on 28 November, but there were serious gaps in the line. Although ordered to launch his attack at dawn, when the time came to carry out the order Colonel Faith had his hands full trying to hang onto his perimeter and recover the ground lost during the night. The night attack had been costly in casualties and morale. When it moved to Chosin Reservoir, Faith's battalion had about ninety per cent of its authorized strength plus 30 to 50 ROK soldiers attached to each company. Morale had been good. [11] Although casualties during the night had not been alarmingly high, a disproportionately high number of officers and noncoms had been put out of action. In Company A, for instance, when Lt. Raymond C. Denchfield was wounded in the knee, his company commander (Capt. Edward B. Scullion) set out to temporarily take charge of Denchfield's platoon. An enemy grenade killed Scullion. Colonel Faith then sent his assistant S-3 (Capt. Robert F. Haynes) to take command of Company A. He was killed by infiltrators before he reached the front lines. Colonel Faith telephoned the executive officer (Lieutenant Smith) and told him to take command of the company.

"It's your baby now," Faith told him.

The strength and determination of the enemy attack was also a blow to morale. It now appeared to Faith's men that, in addition to the severe weather, their troubles were to be compounded by fresh enemy troops. The cold weather was bad enough, especially as there were no warm-up tents within the perimeter. During the night, when they had not been engaged in beating off enemy attacks, the men could do nothing for relief but pull their sleeping bags up to their waists and sit quietly in their holes watching for another attack, or for morning. The light machine guns did not work well in the cold. This was especially true during the night when the temperature dropped sharply. The guns would not fire automatically and had to be jacked back by hand to fire single rounds. The heavy machine guns, however, with antifreeze solution in the water jackets, worked all right.

Similar attacks had fallen against the perimeter enclosing Colonel MacLean's force four miles to the south of Faith's battalion. Chinese had overrun two infantry companies during the early morning and got back to the artillery positions before members of two artillery batteries and of the overrun companies stopped them. After confused and intense fighting during the hours of darkness, the enemy withdrew at first light. Both sides suffered heavily. [12]

Colonel MacLean had another cause for concern. Soon after arriving in that area the night before, he had dispatched his regimental Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon to patrol the surrounding area. Twelve hours after the platoon had set out, no member had returned. [13]

Dead Soldiers in Inlet Perimeter Colonel Faith tried all day to recover the ground lost during the night. The most critical loss was the prominent knob at the boundary of the two companies east of the road. Lt. Richard H. Moore led his platoon in counterattacks on 28 November and succeeded in recovering all but the important knob itself. Repeatedly, Moore got his platoon to the bottom of the knob only to have the Chinese, many of whom were firing American-made weapons, drive it back again. The friendly counterattacks were greatly aided by mortar fire and by very close and effective air support by carrier-based Corsairs.

Capt. Edward P. Stamford, USMC

There were planes in the air most of the day. Front-line observers communicated with the planes by the regular assault-wire lines to battalion headquarters, where a Marine tactical air control officer (Capt. Edward P. Stamford) relayed the instructions to the pilots. The planes made some passes so close to friendly troops that several targets were marked with white phosphorus grenades thrown by hand. More frequently the infantrymen used rifle grenades to mark their targets. [14] In spite of these efforts, the Chinese managed to hold the important knob.

Late in the afternoon both Lieutenant Moore and the battalion sergeant major were put out of action by the same burst from an American caliber .45 Thompson submachine gun. One bullet killed the sergeant. Another one struck Moore squarely on the forehead, raised a bump and dazed him for a short time, but did not otherwise hurt him. Unable to recover the main terrain feature within its perimeter, Company C organized a reverseslope defense directly in front of the knob.

A Battery, Inlet Perimeter, 11/28/50 Sixty or more casualties gathered at the battalion aid station during the day. By evening about twenty bodies had accumulated in front of the two-room farm house in which the aid station was operating. Inside, the building was crowded with wounded; a dozen more wounded, some wearing bandages, stood in a huddle outside.

During the afternoon of 28 November a helicopter landed in a rice paddy near the battalion's command post buildings. General Almond (X Corps commander), on one of his frequent inspections of his front lines, stepped out of the craft. He discussed the situation with Colonel Faith. Before leaving, General Almond explained that he had three Silver Star medals in his pocket, one of which was for Colonel Faith. He asked the colonel to select two men to receive the others, and a small group to witness the presentation. Colonel Faith looked around. Behind him, Lt. Everett F. Smalley, Jr., a platoon leader who had been wounded the night before and was awaiting evacuation, sat on a water can.

"Smalley," said Colonel Faith, "come over here and stand at attention.?

Smalley did so. Just then the mess sergeant from Headquarters Company (Sgt. George A. Stanley) walked past.

"Stanley," the colonel called, "come here and stand at attention next to Lieutenant Smalley."

Stanley obeyed. Colonel Faith then gathered a dozen or more men-walking wounded, drivers, and clerks-and lined them up behind Smalley and Stanley.

After pinning the medals to their parkas and shaking hands with the three men, General Almond spoke briefly to the assembled group, saying, in effect: "The enemy who is delaying you for the moment is nothing more than remnants of Chinese divisions fleeing north. We're still attacking and we're going all the way to the Yalu. Don't let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop you." [15]

Inlet Perimeter 2, 11/28/50

Unfolding his map, General Almond walked over and spread it on the hood of a nearby jeep and talked briefly with Colonel Faith, gestured toward the north, and then departed. As the helicopter rose from the ground, Colonel Faith ripped the medal from his parka with his gloved hand and threw it down in the snow. His operations officer (Major Wesley J. Curtis) walked back to his command post with him.

"What did the General say?" Curtis asked, referring to the conversation at the jeep.

"You heard him," muttered Faith; "remnants fleeing north!" [16]

Lieutenant Smalley went back to his water can. "I got me a Silver Star," he remarked to one of the men who had observed the presentation, "but I don't know what the hell for!"

That afternoon Colonel MacLean came forward to Colonel Faith's battalion. Toward evening, however, when he attempted to leave, he was stopped by a Chinese roadblock between the two battalions, thus confronting him with the grim realization that the enemy had surrounded his position. He remained at the forward position.

Just before dark, between 1700 and 1730, 28 November, planes struck what appeared to be a battalion-sized enemy group that was marching toward the battalion perimeter from the north, still two or three miles away. The tactical situation, even during the daytime, had been so serious that many of the units did not take time to carry rations to the front line. When food did reach the soldiers after dark, it was frozen and the men had no way to thaw it except by holding it against their bodies. By this time most of the men realized the enemy was mounting more than light skirmishes, as they had believed the previous evening.

"You'd better get your positions in good tonight," one platoon leader told his men that evening, "or there won't be any positions tomorrow." [17]

As darkness fell on 28 November, Colonel Faith's battalion braced itself for another attack. The most critical point was the enemy-held knob between the two companies east of the road. Lt. James G. Campbell (a platoon leader of Company D) had two machine guns aimed at the knob, and between his guns and the Chinese position there was a five-man rifle squad. Lieutenant Campbell was particularly concerned about this squad. He was afraid it was not strong enough to hold the position.

Enemy harassing fire, fairly constant all day, continued to fall within the battalion perimeter after dark. It had been dark for three or four hours, however, before the enemy struck again, hitting several points along the perimeter. As expected, one enemy group attacked the vulnerable area east of the road. Lieutenant Campbell heard someone shout and soon afterward saw several figures running from the knoll held by the five-man squad. In the darkness he counted five men and shot the sixth, who by then was only ten feet from his foxhole. Expecting more Chinese from the same direction, he shouted instructions for one of his machine-gun crews to displace to another position from which it could fire upon the knoll that the five men had just vacated. At that moment Lieutenant Campbell was knocked down. He thought someone had hit him in the face with a hammer, although he felt no pain. A mortar fragment about the size of a bullet had penetrated his cheek and lodged in the roof of his mouth. He remained with his gun crews. After the first Chinese had been driven back, enemy activity subsided for about an hour or two.

While this fighting was taking place, General Almond was flying to Tokyo at General MacArthur's order. The corps commander reported to General MacArthur at 2200, 28 November, and received orders to discontinue X Corps' attack and to withdraw and consolidate his forces for more cohesive action against the enemy. [18]

Five hours after this meeting, at about 0300, 29 November, Colonel Faith's executive officer (Major Crosby P. Miller) went to the frontline companies with orders from Colonel MacLean to prepare at once to join the rest of his force four miles to the south. Because of the enemy roadblock separating the two elements of his task force, Colonel MacLean ordered Faith to abandon as much equipment as necessary in order to have enough space on the trucks to haul out the wounded, and then to attack south. [19] All wounded men-about a hundred by now-were placed on trucks that formed in column on the road. Because of the necessity of maintaining blackout, it was not practical to burn the vehicles, kitchens, and other equipment to be left behind.

CCF occupy Inlet Perimeter, 11/29/50

When the withdrawal order reached the rifle platoons, the plan for withdrawing the battalion segment by segment collapsed as the men abruptly broke contact with the Communists, fell back to the road, and assembled for the march. Enemy fire picked up immediately since the movement and the abrupt end of the firing made it obvious to the Chinese that the Americans were leaving.

Colonel Faith directed two companies to provide flank security by preceding the column along the high ground that paralleled the road on both sides for about two miles. Movement of the 1st Battalion column got under way about an hour before dawn, 29 November. Because Captain Seever (CO, Company C) had been wounded in the leg the day before, he instructed one of his platoon leaders (Lt. James 0. Mortrude to lead the company. Slipping and stumbling on the snow-covered hills, Mortrude and the rest of the company set out along the high ground east of the road. Company B was on the opposite side. Mortrude could hear the vehicles below, but could see nothing in the dark. He encountered no enemy. The column moved without opposition until, at the first sign of daylight, it reached the point where the road, following the shoreline, turned northeast to circle a long finger of ice. The Chinese roadblock was at the end of this narrow strip, and here enemy fire halted the column. The battalion's objective, the perimeter of the rest of MacLean's task force, was now just across the strip of ice and not much farther than a mile by the longer road distance.

Halting the vehicular column, Colonel Faith sent two companies onto a high hill directly north of the strip of ice with orders to circle the roadblock and attack it from the east. At the same time, he told Lieutenant Campbell to set up his weapons on a hill overlooking the enemy roadblock. Carrying two heavy machine guns and a 75-mm recoilless rifle, Campbell's group climbed the hill and commenced firing at the general roadblock area. From this hill he and his men could see the friendly perimeter on the opposite side of the narrow strip of ice, and to the south beyond that they could see enemy soldiers. A hundred or more Chinese were standing on a ridgeline just south of the friendly force. About a dozen Chinese, in formation, marched south on the road. They were beyond machine-gun range, but the recoilless rifle appeared to be effective on the ridgeline.

Col. MacLean

Down on the road, Colonel Faith's column suddenly received fire from the vicinity of the friendly units across the finger of ice. Believing that the fire was coming from his own troops, Colonel MacLean started across the ice to make contact with them and halt the fire. He was hit four times by enemy fire-the men watching could see his body jerk with each impact-but he continued and reached the opposite side. There he disappeared and was not seen again.

It now became evident that the fire was Chinese. Colonel Faith assembled as many men as he could and led them in a skirmish line directly across the ice. As it happened, a company-sized enemy force was preparing to attack positions of the 57th Field Artillery Battalion when Faith's attack struck this force in the rear. Disorganized, the Chinese attack fell apart. Faith's men killed about sixty Chinese and dispersed the rest. In the meantime, the two rifle companies approached the enemy force manning the roadblock. Now surrounded itself, the roadblock force also fell apart and disappeared into the hills. With the road open, the column of vehicles entered the perimeter of the other friendly forces. [20]

After a search for Colonel MacLean failed to discover any trace of him, Colonel Faith assumed command and organized all remaining personnel into a task force. Friendly forces, although consolidated, still occupied a precarious position. During the afternoon Faith and his commanders formed a perimeter defense of an area about 600 by 2,000 yards into which the enemy had squeezed them. This perimeter, around a pocket of low, slightly sloping ground, was particularly vulnerable to attack. Except for the area along the reservoir, Colonel Faith's task force was surrounded by ridgelines, all of which belonged to the Chinese. There were firing positions on a couple of mounds of earth within the perimeter and along the embankments of the road and single-track railroad that ran through the area. Several Korean houses, all damaged, stood within the perimeter. There were many Chinese bodies on the ground, one of which wore a new American field jacket that still had its original inspection tags. [21] Rations were almost gone. Ammunition and gasoline supplies were low. The men were numbed by the cold. Even those few who had managed to retain their bedrolls did not dare fall asleep for fear of freezing. The men had to move their legs and change position occasionally to keep their blood circulating. Automatic weapons had to be tried every fifteen to thirty minutes to keep them in working order.

Three factors prevented the situation from being hopeless. First, airdrops were delivered on the afternoon of 29 October. The first drop landed on high ground to the cast, and friendly forces had to fight to get it. They recovered most of the bundles, and captured several Chinese who had also been after the supplies. A second drop went entirely to the Chinese, landing outside the perimeter to the southwest. A third drop was successful. One airload consisted of rations, the other of ammunition. The second factor was the Marine tactical air support, which constantly harassed the enemy with napalm, rockets, and machine-gun fire. Throughout 29 and 30 November the black Corsairs hit the enemyeven during the night between the two days, when they operated by bright moonlight. Pilots later reported that so many enemy personnel were in the area, they could effectively drop their loads anywhere around the perimeter.

The third factor was the hope that friendly forces would break through the Chinese from the south and effect a rescue. There was talk that the assistant commander of the 7th Division (General Hodes) had even then formed a task force and was attempting to join them. This was true.

Colonel MacLean had asked for help the day before (28 November) when he realized he was surrounded. In a message to X Corps he had asked that his 2d Battalion, then at Hamhung awaiting orders from corps, be dispatched to him at once, even if it had to fight its way north. [22]

Although corps failed to act promptly upon MacLean's request, it did form a task force from several small units then located at Hudong-ni, a small lumber town about a third of the distance north between Hagaru-ri and Colonel MacLean's force. Under command of General Hodes, this task force started north at mid-morning, 28 November, but a strong enemy force halted it just north of the village, and forced it to withdraw. [23]

The 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry, meanwhile waited for orders. Late on the afternoon of the 28th, corps ordered it to set up a blocking position at Majon-dong, a third of the distance from Hamhung to Hagaruri. It was to move by rail, with its trucks following by road. A little later corps changed the orders. The 2d Battalion was to move by rail to Majon-dong, the next morning. From there X Corps would furnish trucks to haul the battalion north to help Colonel MacLean. The battalion arrived at Majon-dong and spent the entire day waiting for X Corps trucks. None came. When the battalion's own trucks arrived, as part of the initial plan for establishing a roadblock in the village, X Corps ordered them off the road. Because of confusion at X Corps headquarters, the battalion's own trucks were not released to it, even though the promised X Corps trucks did not arrive. [24] Thus, two entire days passed without progress in providing relief for Colonel MacLean's surrounded battalions. It was while his 2d Battalion waited at Majon-dong that Colonel MacLean disappeared at the enemy roadblock.

Finally, on the morning of 30 November, the relief battalion got under way. Before it had gone halfway to Hagaru-ri, it came under enemy attack itself, and did not reach Koto-ri until the following morning. By then, the road between Hagaru-ri and Hamhung was threatened by the enemy and it became necessary to divert the 2d Battalion to help protect the entire corps withdrawal route, and it was therefore held in Koto-ri. [25]

Ten miles above Hagaru-ri, Colonel Faith's task force beat off enemy probing attacks that harassed his force during the night of 29-30 November. The Chinese concentrated on the two points where the road entered the perimeter, and on the south they succeeded in overrunning a 75-mm recoilless rifle position and capturing some of the crew. There were no determined attacks, however, and the perimeter was still intact when dawn came. It was another cold morning. The sky was clear enough to permit air support. Inside the perimeter, soldiers built fires to warm themselves and the fires drew no enemy fire. Hopefully, the men decided they had withstood the worst part of the enemy attack. Surely, they thought, a relief column would reach the area that day.

A litter-bearing helicopter made two trips to the area on 30 November, carrying out four seriously wounded men. Fighter planes made a strike on high ground around Task Force Faith, and cargo planes dropped more supplies, some of which again fell to the enemy. As the afternoon wore on, it became apparent that no relief column was coming that day. Colonel Faith and Major Curtis organized a group of men to serve as a counterattack force to repel any Chinese penetration that might occur during the coming night. As darkness settled for another sixteen-hourlong night, commanders tried to encourage their troops: "Hold out one more night and we've got it made." [26]

On 30 November, again beginning about 2200, the Chinese made another of their dishearteningly regular attacks. From the beginning it showed more determination than those of the two previous nights, although it did not appear to be well coordinated, nor concentrated in any one area. Capt. Erwin B. Bigger (CO, Company D), in an attempt to confuse the Chinese, hit upon the idea of firing a different-colored flare every time the enemy fired one, and blowing a whistle whenever the enemy blew one. [27]

Soon after midnight, when the enemy attack was most intense, a small group of Chinese broke into the perimeter at one end. Faith sent his counterattack force to patch up the line. From then until morning there were five different penetrations, and as many counterattacks. One of the penetrations, just before first light on 1 December, resulted in enemy seizure of a small hill within the perimeter, thus endangering the defenses. Battalion headquarters called Company D to ask if someone there could get enough men together to counterattack and dislodge the Chinese.

Lt. Robert D. Wilson, a platoon leader, volunteered for the job. "Come on, all you fighting men!" he called out. "We've got a counterattack to make."

Lieutenant Wilson

During the night Lieutenant Wilson had directed mortar fire, but the ammunition was gone by this time. Assembling a force of 20 or 25 men, he waited a few minutes until there was enough light. His force was short of ammunition-completely out of rifle grenades and having only smallarms ammunition and three hand grenades. Lieutenant Wilson carried a recaptured tommy gun. When daylight came the men moved out, Lieutenant Wilson out in front, leading. Near the objective an enemy bullet struck his arm, knocking him to the ground. He got up and went on. Another bullet struck him in the arm or chest.

"That one bit," he said, continuing. A second or two later, another bullet struck him in the forehead and killed him.

SFC Fred Sugua took charge and was in turn killed within a few minutes. Eventually, the remaining men succeeded in driving the Chinese out of the perimeter. [28]

Even after daylight, which usually ended the enemy attacks, the Chinese made one more attempt to knock out a 75-mm recoilless rifle that guarded the road. In about two-platoon strength, they came up a deep ditch along the road to the south. Lieutenant Campbell rushed Corporal Armentrout forward to plug the gap with his machine gun. Hit by a mortar round the night before, the water jacket on the machine gun was punctured and, after several minutes, the gun jammed. Armentrout sent his assistant back for the other heavy machine gun, the last good one in the section. With it, and by himself, Corporal Armentrout killed at least twenty enemy soldiers and stopped the attack. [29]

At 0700, 1 December, as Lieutenant Campbell was telling the battalion S4 (Capt. Raymond Vaudrevil) that everything was under control, a mortar shell landed ten feet away and knocked him down. Fragments sprayed his left side, and wounded two other men. Someone pulled Campbell under a nearby truck, then helped him to the aid station. The aid-station squad tent was full; about fifty patients were inside. Another thirty-five wounded were lying outside in the narrow-gauge railroad cut where the aid station was located.

Dazed with shock, Lieutenant Campbell lay outside about half an hour. Colonel Faith appeared at the aid station, asked all men who could possibly do so to come back on line.

"If we can hold out forty minutes more," the Colonel pleaded, "we'll get air support."

There was not much response. Most of the men were seriously wounded.

"Come on, you lazy bastards," Faith said, "and give us a hand."

That roused several men, including Campbell. Because he could not walk, he crawled twenty yards along the railroad track and found a carbine with one round in it. Dragging the carbine, Campbell continued to crawl to the west. He collapsed into a foxhole before he reached the lines, and waited until someone helped him back to the aid station. This time he got inside for treatment. The medical personnel had no more bandages. There was no more morphine. They cleansed his wounds with disinfectant, and he dozed there for several hours.

As it was everywhere else in the perimeter, the situation at the aid station was most difficult. Near the medical tent a tarpaulin had been stretched over the railroad cut to shelter additional patients, and other wounded were crowded into two small Korean huts. Company aid men, when they could, assisted the medical officer (Capt. Vincent J. Navarre) and three enlisted men who worked continuously at the aid station.

Two thirds of the No. 2 medical chests were lost during the withdrawal from the first positions. The jeep hauling them had simply disappeared. Thus, most of the surgical equipment was gone. Aid men improvised litters from ponchos and field jackets. One splint set was on hand, however, and there was plenty of blood plasma. The aid station had one complete No. 1 chest. When bandages were gone, aid men used personal linens, handkerchiefs, undershirts, and towels. They gathered up parachutes recovered with the airdropped bundles, using white ones for dressings and colored ones to cover the wounded and keep them warm. Sgt. Leon Pugowski of the Headquarters Company kitchen had managed to save two stoves, coffee, and some cans of soup. He set the stoves up in the aid station, and the seriously wounded got hot soup or coffee.

Task Force Faith had been under attack for eighty hours in sub-zero weather. None of the men had washed or shaved during that time, nor eaten more than a bare minimum. Frozen feet and hands were common. Worst of all, the weather appeared to be getting worse, threatening air support and aerial resupply. Few men believed they could hold out another night against determined attacks.

Captain Seever (CO, Company C) sat on the edge of a hole discussing the situation with Major Curtis (battalion S-3). An enemy mortar shell landed 10 to 15 feet away and exploded without injuring either of them. Seever shrugged his shoulders.

"Major," he said, "I feel like I'm a thousand years old." [30]

A single low-flying Marine fighter bomber appeared over the surrounded task force about 1000 on 1 December. Establishing radio contact with the tactical air control party, the pilot stated that if the weather improved as forecasted, he would guide more tactical aircraft into the area shortly after noon. He also stated that there were no friendly forces on the road between Faith's perimeter and Hagaru-ri.

Colonel Faith decided to try to break out of the perimeter and reach Hagaru-ri in a single dash rather than risk another night where he was. He planned to start the breakout about 1300 so that it would coincide with the air strike. He ordered the artillery batteries and the Heavy Mortar Company to shoot up all remaining ammunition before that time and then to destroy their weapons. He placed the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, in the lead, followed by the 57th Field Artillery Battalion, the Heavy Mortar Company, and the 3d Battalion of the 31st Infantry. Halftrack vehicles of Battery D, 15th AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion, were interspersed throughout the column. To minimize danger from enemy attack, Colonel Faith wanted the column to be as short as possible -only enough vehicles to haul out the wounded. All other men would walk. Vehicles, equipment, and supplies that could not be carried, or that were not necessary for the move, he ordered destroyed. The men selected twenty-two of the best vehicles-2 1/2-ton, 3/4-ton and l/4-ton trucksand lined them up on the road. They drained gasoline from the other vehicles and filled the tanks of the ones they were going to take. Then they destroyed the remaining vehicles with white phosphorus or thermite grenades.

About noon someone roused Lieutenant Campbell and said, "We're going to make a break for it."

He and the other wounded men-several hundred of them by this time-were placed in the vehicles. They lay there for about an hour while final preparations for the breakout attempt were made. Enemy mortar shells began dropping in the vicinity.

Colonel Faith selected Company C, 32d Infantry, as advance guard for the column. Lieutenant Mortrude's platoon, the unit least hurt, was to take the point position for the company. Supported by a dual 40-mm halftrack, this platoon would clear the road for the vehicle column. Lieutenant Mortrude, who was wounded in the knee, planned to ride the halftrack. Company A, followed by Company B, would act as flank security east of the road. There was no danger at the beginning of the breakout from the direction of the reservoir, which was to the west.

Friendly planes appeared overhead. Mortrude moved his platoon out about 1300. Lieutenant Smith led out Company A. The men of these units had walked barely out of the area that had been their defensive perimeter when enemy bullets whistled past or dug into the ground behind them. At almost the same time, four friendly planes, in close support of the breakout action, missed the target and dropped napalm bombs on the lead elements. The halftrack in which Mortrude planned to ride was set ablaze. Several men were burned to death immediately. About five others, their clothes afire, tried frantically to beat out the flames. Everyone scattered. Disorganization followed.

Up to this point, units had maintained organizational structure, but suddenly they began to fall apart. Intermingling in panic, they disintegrated into leaderless groups of men. Most of the squad and platoon leaders and the commanders of the rifle companies were dead or wounded. Many of the key personnel from the battalions were casualties. Capt. Harold B. Bauer (CO, Headquarters Company), Major Crosby P. Miller (battalion executive officer), Major Curtis (battalion S-3), Capt. Wayne E. Powell (battalion S-2) and Lt. Henry M. Moore (Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon leader) had all been wounded. The same was true of the important non-coms. No one had slept for several days. One thought drove the men: they had to keep moving if they were to get out. Even those who were not wounded were strongly tempted to lie down and go to sleep; but they knew they would be lost if they did.

Lieutenant Mortrude gathered ten men around him and proceeded to carry out his orders. Firing as they advanced, they dispersed twenty or more enemy soldiers who fled. As they ran down the road screaming obscenities at the enemy, Mortrude and his men encountered several small Chinese groups, which they killed or scattered. One such group was putting in communication lines. Another was repairing a wrecked jeep. Out of breath and hardly able to walk on his wounded leg, Mortrude and those men still with him reached a blown-out bridge two miles or more south of the starting point. Attracting no enemy fire, they stopped there to rest and wait for the column. A little later a Company A platoon leader (Lt. Herbert E. Marshburn, Jr.) came up with a group of men and joined them. Together they crossed under the bridge and moved to the east, then south, to reconnoiter. Enemy fire came in from the high ground to the northeast. Most of the men fell to the ground to take cover. Lieutenant Mortrude wondered why the vehicles were not coming down the road, since he had expected the column to follow closely. As he lay on the slope of the ridge, a bullet struck him in the head and knocked him unconscious.

The main body of the column, meanwhile, waited until Colonel Faith could reorganize it. Since Company C and part of Company A were disorganized by the burning napalm, he ordered Company B to take the lead and to advance with marching fire to the blown-out bridge. The vehicular column moved slowly down the road, keeping abreast of Company B, which was sweeping the high ground. Air cover was continuous.

It was mid-afternoon or later when the truck column stopped at the blown-out bridge where it was necessary to construct a bypass over the rough and steep banks of the stream. A half-track towed the trucks across while the able-bodied men with the column took care to prevent them from overturning. In the middle of this tediously slow process, Chinese riflemen began firing at the trucks and men. One truck-the one in which Lieutenant Campbell was lying-stalled in the middle of the stream bed. Enemy fire struck some of the wounded men in the truck. Campbell, figuring it would be better for him to get out and move under his own power, crawled out of the truck. He started walking up the ditch toward the lead vehicles, which had stopped again a third of a mile ahead. After he had gone about two hundred yards enemy riflemen began shooting at him, forcing him to the ground. He discovered his head was clear now, and the feeling of weakness had vanished. Although his leg and side pained him, and although his cheek and mouth were swollen from the wound he had received three days before, he felt pretty good. When a 3-ton truck came by after about twenty minutes, he got on it. He never did learn what happened to the truck he had left.

Back at the blown-out bridge the column moved forward as fast as the halftrack could drag the trucks through the bypass. The battalion motor officer (Lt. Hugh R. May) stood in the road supervising the operation. He appeared to be unconcerned about the enemy fire, which remained heavy as long as there were men and trucks at the roadblock. It was late in the afternoon before the last truck was across. [31]

When Lieutenant Mortrude regained consciousness on the slope of the ridge, he noticed friendly troops moving up the hill in the area south of the blown-out bridge. An aid man (Cpl. Alfonso Camoesas) came past and bandaged his head. Then Mortrude stumbled across the ridgeline, passing many American dead and wounded on the slope. Dazed and in a condition of shock, he followed a group of men he could vaguely see ahead of him. The group went toward the reservoir and walked out onto the ice.

While all of this was taking place, another enemy roadblock halted the lead trucks in the column at a hairpin curve a half mile beyond the blown-out bridge. At least two machine guns and enemy riflemen kept the area under fire. Colonel Faith, a blanket around his shoulders, walked up and down the line of trucks as he organized a group to assault the enemy who were firing from positions east of the road. Each time he passed his jeep in the center of the column he fired several bursts from the caliber .50 machine gun mounted on it. Heavy enemy fire also came from the west side of the road, from the direction of the reservoir. This fire raked the truck column, hitting the wounded men in the trucks. Darkness was not far off. Colonel Faith was desperately anxious to get his column moving and the wounded men out before the Chinese closed in on them. He got some wounded into the ditch to form a base of fire and then organized several groups to assault the enemy positions.

One group of men, under Captain Bigger (CO, Company D), was to clear out the area between the road and the reservoir. Colonel Faith instructed the S-2 of the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry (Major Robert E. Jones), to gather all available men and move them onto the high ground south of the hairpin curve, while he himself organized another group to move onto the high ground just north of the roadblock at the hairpin curve. They would then attack from opposite directions at the same time. [32]

Captain Bigger, blinded in one eye by a mortar fragment and wounded in the leg, supported himself on a mortar aiming stake and waved his group up the hill, hobbling up himself. Like Captain Bigger, the majority of his group was walking wounded.

It was almost dark when Major Jones and Colonel Faith, each with a hundred men or less, launched their attacks against the roadblock and knocked it out. Colonel Faith, hit by grenade fragments, was mortally wounded. A man next to him, hit by fragments of the same grenade. tried to help him down to the road, but was unable to do so. Some other men came by, carried him down to the road, and put him in the cab of a truck. [33]

Colonel Faith's task force, which had started to break up soon after it got under way that afternoon, now disintegrated completely because those men who had commanded the battalions, companies, and platoons were either dead or wounded so seriously they could exercise no control. The task force crumbled into individuals, or into groups of two or ten or twenty men. Major Jones, with the help of several others, took charge of the largest group of men remaining-those who stayed to help with the trucks carrying the wounded. Enemy fire had severely damaged the truck column. Several trucks were knocked out and blocked the column, and others had flat tires. The time was about 1700, 1 December, and it was almost dark.

Those who were able, now removed all wounded men from three destroyed 2 1/2-ton trucks which blocked the column, carried the wounded to other trucks, and then pushed the destroyed vehicles over the cliff toward the reservoir. Someone shouted for help to gather up all men who had been wounded during the roadblock action. For half an hour the able-bodied men searched both sides of the road. When the column was ready to move again the wounded were piled two deep in most of the trucks. Men rode across the hoods and on the bumpers, and six or eight men hung to the sides of each truck. After re-forming the truck column with all operating vehicles, Major Jones organized as many able-bodied and walking wounded men as he could-between a hundred and two hundred men and started south down the road. The trucks were to follow. [34]


Task Force Faith Survivors on ice of Chosin Reservoir, 12/1/50

The group of men that had gone with Captain Bigger, after having run the Chinese off of the high ground on the west side of the road, found that there were still enemy soldiers between it and the road. Rather than fight back to the road, Bigger led his men west and south to the reservoir shore, and then out onto the ice. Another group of about fifteen men, including Lieutenant Smith (who had commanded Company A), Lt. Richard E. Moore (one of his platoon leaders), and Lieutenant Barnes (an artillery forward observer), after knocking out one of the enemy machine guns on the same side of the road, watched Captain Bigger and his men heading toward the ice. They debated what they should do. They could see the trucks stalled along the road. They were out of ammunition. Deciding there was no reason to go back, they continued toward the reservoir ice. A group of 15 or 20 Chinese, trying to head them off, came as far as the reservoir bank and fired at them without effect. One enemy soldier, however, did follow them out on the ice to bayonet a man who had fallen behind. Six men of this group, including Smith, were wounded or had frostbitten feet.

Lieutenant Campbell stayed with the column of trucks following the men with Major Jones. Just before leaving the last roadblock position, Campbell happened to meet his platoon sergeant (MSgt. Harold M. Craig). Craig was wounded in the middle of his back and was about to throw away his carbine and rely on his bayonet. Figuring that he would have to make a break for it as soon as darkness came, Craig felt his carbine would encumber him. Campbell gladly accepted the carbine. It had a "banana clip" in it, with thirty rounds. As the trucks moved forward he found one with a place on the side to which he could cling. There were five other men clinging o the same side. It was a ragged and desperatelooking column of men and vehicles. Those following Major Jones had little semblance to a military unit. Without subordinate leaders, without formation or plan, they were a mixture of the remnants of all units, a large percentage being walking wounded. About 15 of the original 22 trucks were left.

A mile or two beyond the roadblock two burned-out tanks partly blocked the road and delayed the column until men could construct a bypass. Beyond that, the column made steady but slow progress for another mile or so. Some of the men began to believe they were safe. There were stragglers along the road-men who had struck out for themselves during previous delays. Some of them swung onto the passing trucks. By this time, it was nearly 2100 and the column, having covered more than half of the approximate ten miles between the last defensive perimeter and Hagaru-ri, approached Hudong-ni, the small lumber village. As the leading truck, which was some distance ahead of the rest of the column, entered the town, Chinese soldiers opened fire and killed the driver. The truck overturned and spilled out the wounded men, a few of whom managed to work back up the road to warn the rest of the column. At this point Major Jones decided it would be advisable to get away from the road and follow the railroad tracks south. The railroad paralleled the road but was closer to the reservoir shoreline. Some of the men followed him. [35]

About 75 to 100 men stayed with the vehicles. An artillery officer collected all who could walk and fire a weapon, and led them forward. At the edge of the village they began to receive fire from rifles and at least one automatic weapon of an enemy unit of undetermined size. After returning the fire for a few minutes, the group returned to the vehicles. They picked up several wounded men from the overturned truck and took them back. The trucks moved a little closer to the village and halted. It was then 2200 or later, 1 December.

A group of officers and men decided they would wait where they were. Word of their situation, they argued, must surely by then have gotten through to Hagaru-ri. Aid would undoubtedly arrive soon.

They waited about an hour or so until the rear of the column began to receive small-arms and mortar fire. Then they decided to make a run for it. Lieutenant Campbell was still hanging to one of the trucks. "We'll never make it through," he thought.

As the column proceeded through the village, moving slowly, enemy fire killed the drivers of the first three trucks. The column halted and an enemy machine gun immediately raked it at point-blank range. Jumping off the tailgate of the third truck, Lieutenant Campbell scrambled for the right side of the road where an embankment separated it from a small plot of cultivated ground eight or ten feet beneath. In the darkness he could see only outlines of the trucks on the road and the flashes of a machine gun firing from a hill on the opposite side of the road. Leaning against the embankment, he fired his carbine at the machine gun's flashes. A body, an arm torn off, lay nearby on the road. The overturned truck, its wheels in the air, rested in the small field below the road. Someone pinned under it kept pounding on the truck's body. Wounded men, scattered nearby, screamed either in pain or for help. Up on the road someone kept yelling for men to drive the trucks through. Chinese soldiers closed in on the rear of the column. Campbell saw a white phosphorus grenade explode in the rear of a truck at the end of the column.

"This is the end of the truck column!" he said to himself.

Someone yelled, "Look out!"

Campbell turned in time to see a 3/4-ton truck coming over the embankment toward him. As he scrambled to one side, the truck ran over his foot, bruising the bones. Someone had decided to try to get the lead vehicles off the road. Pushed by the fourth, the first three trucks, without their drivers, jammed together, rolled off the embankment, and overturned. Wounded men inside were spilled and crushed. The frantic screams of these men seemed to Lieutenant Campbell like the world gone mad. He fired his last three rounds at the enemy machine gun, headed for the railroad track on the opposite side of the tiny field, and dived into a culvert underneath the railroad. It began to snow again-a fine, powdery snow.

Everyone scattered. Corporal Camoesas (company aid man) found himself in a group of about fifteen men, none of whom he knew. Carrying six wounded, the group reached the reservoir. As Camoesas walked out on the ice, he looked back. Several trucks were burning.

Lieutenant Campbell crawled through the culvert. He found a man, wounded in the leg, who could not walk. Two other soldiers came over the embankment and joined him. Dragging the wounded man, the group walked in a crouch across the rice paddy to a large lumber pile in the middle of the field. There, two more soldiers joined them. At the edge of the reservoir, three quarters of a mile away, several others joined Campbell's party. Staying close to the shoreline, the men walked on the reservoir ice. Campbell was not sure where Hagaru-ri was, but he felt they would reach it if they followed the reservoir shore.

The reservoir ice was not slippery. The wind had blown off most of the snow, leaving a rough-surfaced crust, and it was so thick that 76-mm shells had ricocheted off without appreciable effect.

At a North Korean house, an ROK soldier with them asked where the marines were. He was told that American jeeps came down the road every day. Some of the group, suspicious of the North Koreans, wanted to continue across the reservoir, but Lieutenant Campbell thought he recognized the road. He led off, and the rest followed. By then, he had seventeen men with him, of whom three were armed. Two miles down the road, the group reached a Marine tank outpost, and the tankers directed them to the nearest command post, where a truck took them to a Marine hospital in Hagaru-ri. Lieutenant Campbell arrived there at 0530, 2 December. The shell fragment in the roof of his mouth began to bother him.

Individuals and other groups straggled into Hagaru-ri for several days beginning on the night of 1 December. Lieutenant Smith and those men with him, who had left the column at the second roadblock, reached a Marine supply point at Hagaru-ri about 2200 that night. A plane had dropped a note in a canteen instructing them to keep away from the shoreline and continue across the ice. A little later that night, Captain Bigger hobbled in with his group.

The men who went with Major Jones, after following the railroad tracks for some distance, had been fired on by an enemy machine gun. Many of the men took off toward the reservoir and began arriving at the Marine perimeter soon after midnight.

Most of the men who had served with Task Force Faith were left where the truck column stopped near the lumber village of Hudong-ni, or were strewn along the road from there to the northernmost position. When those few men who could move had left, the others were either captured or frozen.

PFC Glenn J. Finfrock (a machine gunner from Company D) became unconscious from loss of blood about the time the truck column came to its final halt. It was daylight on the morning of 2 December when he regained consciousness again. He moved down the road a short distance until he found several wounded men trying to build a fire by one of the trucks-the one in which Colonel Faith had been placed the previous evening. His frozen body was still in the cab. Since the truck appeared to be in good order, Finfrock and another man tried unsuccessfully to start it. As they were working on the truck some Chinese walked toward them from the village, and several of the men ran toward the ice. Other were captured. The Chinese gave morphine to several men, bandaged their wounds and, after caring for them for several days, freed them. [37]

Lieutenant Mortrude, wounded in the knee and in the head, walked to Hagaru-ri from the blown-out bridge. It was 0330 on 2 December when he reached friendly lines.

Corporal Camoesas (the aid man) and his group carrying the six wounded men, after hiding in brush near the reservoir shore in order to rest, followed the railroad track until they came to the road leading toward Hagaru-ri. About 0800 they met a Marine tank, and three hundred yards beyond were trucks and ambulances waiting to take them to the rear. All day other men made their way back to friendly lines.

On 4 December, when most of its survivors had returned, the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, counted only 181 officers, men, and attached Republic of Korea troops, of the original 1,053 that had begun the operation. The other battalions in the perimeter had suffered equal losses. [38]

This was not the immediate end of trouble, since the enemy still controlled much of the road between Hagaru-ri and the port city of Hungnam. But at Hagaru-ri the 1st Marine Division had a solid perimeter that included the airstrip, and there were food and ammunition and medical supplies. From Hungnam the more seriously wounded were evacuated by plane. For the others, ten days of fighting lay ahead.





This Chinese photograph shows the Task Force Faith convoy destruction.

All the equipment and vehicles of two Infantry Battalions, the 57th Field Artillery Battalion and D Battery 15th AAA AW Battalion were lost in the fighting east of Chosin between November 27 and December 2, 1950. Not a single vehicle, artillery piece, mortar or machine gun of these units was saved. This debacle is in grim contrast to the withdrawal of the gallant Marine Regiments who successfully fought, and broke through, the same enemy, under the same conditions, bringing out most of their equipment and dead, and nearly all their wounded.

The reasons for this disaster, given the obvious heroism of many individual officers and men of 31RCT, are still debated but must call into question the preparation of 31RCT by X Corps command, training methods of Army Infantry in general, and command leadership of the US Army. Specifically, as compared to the USMC. Specifically, as compared to the USMC. A most telling statistic regarding the difference in fighting attitude between Army and Marine Corps personnel is the ratio of casualties to MIA. 50% or more of Army casualties were usually MIA, whereas the Marines usually had virtually none. Compare the numbers in the Chosin campaign, alone.

1stMarDiv C.O. General O.P. Smith and his battle-hardened Regimental Commanders had deliberately slowed their advance into the Taebecks in spite of demands for haste from X Corps commander Army General Almond. In their view, any advance must always be based on adequate preparation and support. This procedure subsequently allowed 1stMarDiv to coordinate its infantry, artillery, armor and air units during the fight-out, even preparing a crude air-field at Hagaru-ri for logistical support. Among other activities, this airfield enabled evacuation of over 4,000 wounded and frost-bitten Marines and Soldiers during Dec 2-5. This included more than 1500 7th Division troops, with all 31RCT survivors unfit for duty. Without the stubborn professional approach of the experienced Marine command staff and its veteran leadership at all fighting levels, the tragedy east of Chosin would have been a much more general disaster too terrible to contemplate.

As one veteran said, "Thank God for the Marines."



* NOTES

[1] Unless otherwise noted, this account is based on a narrative prepared in Korea by Capt. Martin Blumenson. To this account the Army author has added some information obtained from official records, and some obtained by supplemental interviews or by letters from men who participated in the action.

[1-a] The major additions are based on more extensive analysis in Roy E. Appleman's "East of Chosin" and Chinese Army photographs and accounts in their Beijing Korean War Museum. (Note by B. L. Kortegaard)

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