* Chipyong-ni was defended because the commanding general of Eighth Army (Lt.
Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway) decided to make a stand there against the Chinese
In the chronology of Korean battles, the fighting for Chipyong-ni
followed the withdrawal from northern Korea at the end of 1950, a brief Eighth
Army offensive that began on 5 February 1951, and a full-scale Chinese
counteroffensive that struck a week later.
The 23d Regimental Combat Team made the decisive defense of Chipyong-ni on 13
and 14 February 1951. This action followed the patrol ambush and the subsequent
battle for the Twin Tunnels area some high ground three miles southeast of
Chipyong-ni. After the Twin Tunnels operation, the 23d Infantry Regiment (2d
Infantry Division) proceeded on the afternoon of 3 February to the town of
Chipyong-ni and set up a perimeter defense. Chipyong-ni was a small crossroads
town half a mile long and several blocks wide, situated on a single-track
railroad. Besides the railway station there were several other brick or frame
buildings in the center of the town, but most of the buildings were constructed
of the usual mud, sticks, and straw. At least half of the buildings were already
reduced to rubble as the result of previous fighting in the town.
Encircling Chipyong-ni were eight prominent hills that rose to an average
height of 850 feet above the rice paddies and buildings in the valley. These
hills provided excellent defensive positions, but to have occupied them would
have stretched the front-line defensive positions along 12 miles of ridgelines
and formed a perimeter with a 3- to 4-mile diameter. Instead, the regimental
commander (Col. Paul L. Freeman) stationed his infantrymen on
lower ground around a tight perimeter about a mile in diameter. On three sides
of the town the line followed small hills; on the northwest section the
infantrymen dug their holes across a half-mile strip of rice paddies.
During the ten days after going into position at Chipyong-ni, Colonel
Freeman's regiment dug in and strengthened its positions. The 37th Field
Artillery Battalion (attached to the regiment) arrived on 5 February. Battery B,
82d Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, joined the regiment,
adding six M16 and four M19 flakwagons to the defense of the town. Several days
later Battery B, 503d Field Artillery Battalion (a 155-mm howitzer unit), was
attached to reinforce the fires of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion. 
The infantry companies dug in their machine guns, registered their mortars,
sowed antipersonnel mines, and operated daily patrols to the encompassing high
ground. The regimental Heavy-Mortar Company divided he fires of its platoons and
sections among the sectors of the perimeter, the artillery registered on all
probable avenues of enemy approach, and all units established good
communications lines. There was time to coordinate the infantry, artillery, and
air support into an effective combat team. 
This narrative describes the fighting for Chipyong-ni that occurred in that
sector of the 2d Battalion's perimeter defended by Company G, 23d Infantry. As
it happened, the howitzers of Battery B, 503d Field Artillery Battalion, were in
position at the bottom of Company G's hill so that the artillerymen were drawn
into the same battle. The commander of the 2d Battalion (Lt.Col. James W.
Edwards) placed all three of his rifle companies on the front line to cover the
sector assigned to his battalion. This was the south rim of the perimeter.
Within the companies, two company commanders committed their three rifle
platoons. The other company (F), to which Colonel Edwards assigned the center
and smallest sector, manned its part of the line with only two platoons, leaving
its support platoon as the battalion reserve. 
The narrow supply road leading southwest from Chipyong-ni went under the
railroad on the south edge of the town and then, within a third of a mile,
passed two embankments of red clay where the road cut through the two ends of a
U-shaped hill. Company G started at the second of these two road cuts and
extended left (east) along the southern side of the U. It was not much of a hill
only a couple of contour lines on the map. Infantrymen could climb the smooth
hump of earth in a few minutes. The 1st Platoon of Company G held the right end
of the hill next to the road cut. The 3d Platoon had the center position (the
highest part of the hill) and extended its line left to the bend of the U. The
2d Platoon was down in the rice paddies between the 3d Platoon and Company F.
Men from the two platoons on the hill dug their holes just over the top
of the forward slope. The positions restricted the fields of fire somewhat
but provided good observation, especially for the 3d Platoon, which could see
all areas to the south except for a dead spot in a dry creek bed just in front
of its right flank.
There were two other significant features near the 3d Platoon's area.
At the foot of the hill and just beyond the dry creek bed was a cluster of 15
or 20 buildings that made up the village of Masan. The second feature was a
narrow spur of ground that formed a link between the 3d Platoon's hill and a
large hill mass to the south. The 2d Platoon in the rice paddies lacked
satisfactory observation but had good fields of fire across the flat land to its
In addition to its own Weapons Platoon, Company G's supporting weapons included
a section of 75-mm recoilless rifles, a section of heavy
machine guns from Company H, and a platoon of 88-mm mortars which was dug in
near the edge of the town and had a forward observer stationed with Company G.
There were also forward observers from the regimental Heavy-Mortar Company and
from the 37th Field Artillery Battalion with Company G. During the daytime men
from the 75-mm recoilless rifle section manned their weapons, but at night they
replaced them with two caliber .50 machine guns to prevent having their
positions disclosed at night by the back-blasts of the recoilless rifles.
The Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon set up two fougasses (drums of napalm),
the first on the road just south of the road cut, and the second in the rice
paddies in front of the 2d Platoon. The 1st Platoon, which was next to the road,
also strung barbed-wire entanglements across the road and in front of its
position. There was not enough wire available to reach across the company front.
 Colonel Edwards supervised the siting of all weapons, and the digging of the
holes which he insisted be of the standing type and deep enough for good
When Battery B, 503d Field Artillery Battalion, arrived, its 155-mm howitzers
went into position in the small bowl formed by the U-shaped ridge of which
Company G occupied one side. The howitzers were laid by platoon to support the
east, north, and west sectors of the regimental perimeter. To the rear of the
howitzers, the artillerymen set up a tent for the fire direction center (FDC)
personnel. Behind that, near the bottom of Company G's hill, were several other
tents for the mess and supply sections. A liaison officer from the 37th Field
Artillery Battalion to Battery B (Capt. John A. Elledge), and the commander of
Company G (Lt. Thomas Heath) worked out a plan for joint defense of the sector.
This plan provided for the use of the artillery's machine guns on the front line
and, if necessary, the use of some artillerymen as riflemen while skeleton crews
manned the howitzers. The two officers also set up an infantry-artillery
machine-gun post in the road cut with a six-man crew to operate two machine guns
one caliber .50 and one caliber .30. This road cut was also the dividing line
between Colonel Edwards's 2d Battalion sector and that of the French Battalion
(a regular battalion of the 23d Infantry).
In the meantime, while the 23d RCT built up its defenses, an Eighth Army
general offensive got under way on 5 February with X Corps, in the center of the
line, attacking to make a double envelopment of the town of Hongchon, an
important enemy build-up area. The attack moved slowly until the night of 11
February, when the Chinese launched a full-scale counteroffensive with two
columns driving south aimed at the towns of Hoengsong and Wonju in X Corps'
sector.  The vigorous enemy attack drove through two ROK divisions and turned
the United Nations' attack into a withdrawal that rolled the front lines south
between 5 and 20 miles.  Before the Chinese attack, the front lines of X
Corps were well ahead of Colonel Freeman's Chipyong-ni perimeter, but as the units went south,
sometimes fighting through enemy roadblocks, Chipyong-ni became a conspicuous
bulge on the left of the corps' line.
At the 23d Infantry's perimeter, the usual patrols for the daylight hours of
13 February reported increased enemy activity crowding close to Chipyong-ni on
three sides north, east, and west. The Air Force observation plane operating
with the RCT reported enemy groups moving toward the perimeter from the north
and east. Observers called for artillery fire against those enemy columns within
reach, while the tactical air control party directed forty flights of aircraft
against other enemy groups beyond artillery range. 
Another indication of enemy strength and dispositions came from the 2d
Division's Reconnaissance Company. Reinforced by a rifle company, it was ordered
on the morning of 13 February to patrol the road from Iho-ri straight north to
Chipyong-ni a distance of 15 to 18 miles. Even on this road there were Chinese
in sufficient strength to halt this force and turn it back. 
Faced with this growing threat of encirclement, Colonel Freeman wanted to
give up his positions and go back to Yoju, fifteen miles south. The commander of
X Corps (Maj.Gen. Edward M. Almond) flew into Chipyong-ni by helicopter at noon
on 13 February and discussed with Colonel Freeman the advisability of such a
withdrawal a move that had the approval of the corps and division commanders. At
noon Colonel Freeman recommended that his regiment go south on the following
morning (14 February). However, within an hour and a half after General Almond
returned to his command post to relay this recommendation to General Ridgway,
Colonel Freeman changed his mind and his recommendation. The report from the 2d
Division's Reconnaissance Company describing enemy opposition to movement on the
main supply road south convinced Freeman that it would be better to leave as
soon as possible, and he presented his request to division headquarters. In the
meantime, however, General Almond had submitted the original recommendation and
request to leave Chipyong-ni on the following morning to General Ridgway.
General Ridgway adamantly refused permission to abandon Chipyong-ni. 
Colonel Freeman immediately started to strengthen his position. He asked for
air strikes and airdrops for the next day, set up a secondary perimeter to be
manned at night by a company of engineers, positioned his tanks near the outer
perimeter, and ordered all gaps mined or blocked by lanes of machine-gun fire.
 During the early part of the evening of 13 February, Colonel Freeman called
his unit commanders together to warn them that the movement of enemy troops
probably meant that they would soon be surrounded and attacked by the
"We'll stay here and fight it out," he said. 
The early part of the evening was quiet. At Battery B's position Lt. Robert
L. Peters was sitting in a tent writing a letter. The battery executive (Lt.
Randolph McKinney) went to bed after having decided to remove his shoes but to
sleep in his clothes in case troubled started. Most of the men of Battery B were
inexperienced replacements who had joined the battery after the action at
Kunu-ri, where more than half of the men and all equipment had been lost. Before
Lieutenant Peters finished his letter he heard a burst of fire from what seemed
like several thousand yards away. He stepped outside to look. To the southwest
he could see what appeared to be six torches along a trail leading from a large
hill. In a short time the machinegunners in the road cut opened fire at figures
they could distinguish moving across the rice paddies to the south. Peters
called back to Lieutenant McKinney: "Get up, McKinney; this is it!"
On the east end of Company G's sector, PFC Donald E. Nelson and Pvt. Jack
Ward (members of the 2d Platoon) were sitting in their foxhole in the rice paddy
arguing over which one of them had to stay awake during the first part of the
night. The company was required to be on a fifty percent alert at all times,
which meant that one man in each foxhole had to be awake while the other slept.
Suddenly they heard the sound of digging. It sounded as if it were several
hundred yards away.
Soon after this, two squads of Chinese soldiers attacked the center of
Company G's line, hitting its 3d Platoon (Lt. Paul J. McGee). One of these enemy
squads crawled along the spur of ground that led to the center of the 3d
Platoon's position. The enemy threw three grenades at a machine gun manned by
Cpl. Eugene L. Ottesen, and then opened with rifles. Corporal Ottesen began
firing his machine gun. The other enemy squad, two hundred yards to the west,
taking advantage of the dead spot in the dry creek bed, climbed the hill and
attacked the 3d Platoon at the point where it joined the 1st Platoon. It was
about 2200 when the first firing broke out.
Hearing the firing, PFC Herbert G. Ziebell awakened his foxhole buddy (PFC
Roy F. Benoit) and said: "There's some firing going on. Get up and get
Ziebell did not fire immediately because he could see nothing to shoot, and
he was afraid the flash of his rifle would draw enemy fire. Along the line other
men heard the firing and sat in the darkness waiting for the attack.
When Lieutenant McGee heard Corporal Ottesen's machine gun open fire he
immediately telephoned his company commander (Lieutenant Heath). He then called
his squad leaders by sound-powered telephone and informed them of the attack. In
order to conserve ammunition, he ordered his men to fire only when they could
see the enemy. Apparently making only a probing attack, the enemy withdrew after
a few minutes. Except for some firing by the 2d Platoon, there was a lull for
about an hour.
Around 2300 a Chinese squad worked up close to the center of the 3d Platoon.
An enemy tossed a grenade in the hole of one of Lieutenant McGee's squad leaders
(Cpl. James C. Mougeat), wounding him.
Corporal Mougeat crawled out of his hole and, shouting, "Lieutenant McGee,
I'm hit!" started west along the hilltop toward the platoon's command post,
twenty yards away.
The enemy threw several grenades at him, one of which knocked his rifle from
his hand and tore off the stock. Fortunately for Mougeat, two men from his squad
shot the Chinese. Recovering his damaged rifle, Corporal Mougeat ran on to the
command post. There Lieutenant McGee calmed him down, and Mougeat decided to
return to his squad.
"I'm not hit bad," he said.
Lieutenant McGee was watching several men about twenty yards below the
platoon's position. One of them called his name.
"Who is that?" he asked a BAR man beside him.
"It's a Chink," the BAR man said.
McGee tossed a grenade down the hill. The explosion apparently wounded the
enemy soldier who rolled down the slope. Lieutenant McGee borrowed the BAR and
Main activity near Battery B's position centered around the machine guns at
the road cut. As soon as these began firing, one of the artillery officers (Lt.
John E. Travis) and his machine-gun sergeant (Cpl. William H. Pope) grabbed
several boxes of ammunition and went to the road cut. The rice paddies in front
of these machine guns were completely covered with snow. On previous nights when
Travis had gone there to check the position, that area had been smooth and
white, but now there were lines of dark forms moving across the fields. They
were barely visible in the dark but appeared plainly when illuminating flares
hung over the area.
Lieutenant Travis and Corporal Pope had been at the outpost position only a
short time when a mortar shell exploded in the cut, killing the two men closest
to them, and wounding six, including Travis and Pope. Travis headed for the fire
direction center tent and began yelling for some men to help-six to man the
machine guns and another six to carry back the wounded.
Captain Elledge (the liaison officer) gathered up ten men and told them to
follow. Enemy mortar shells were also falling in the battery's area at this time
so that the artillerymen, most of whom were in action for the first time, were
reluctant to leave their holes. Five of the men followed Captain Elledge; the
others dropped off on the way and went back to their foxholes. When they reached
the outpost position, the caliber .50 machine gun was jamming, so Captain
Elledge and PFC Leslie Alston returned for another gun, carrying one of the
wounded men back as they went. They then made several trips between the
battery's position and the outpost, carrying ammunition out and wounded men
These two machine guns fired steadily for several hours, although no close
action developed until about 0200 on 14 February when a platoonsized group of
Chinese made an attack against the French Battalion just to the right of the
machine-gun outpost. The enemy soldiers formed one hundred or two hundred yards
in front of the small hill which the French occupied, then launched their
attack, blowing whistles and bugles, and running with bayonets fixed. When this
noise started, the French soldiers began cranking a hand siren they had, and one
squad started running toward the Chinese, yelling and throwing grenades far to
the front and to the side. When the two forces were within twenty yards of each
other the Chinese suddenly turned and ran in the opposite direction. It was all
over within a minute. After this incident it was relatively quiet in the rice
paddies near the road cut.
The firing battery, meanwhile, kept up a normal volume of harassing and
interdiction fire, and also fired an illuminating round every five minutes for
the sector on the opposite side of the regimental perimeter. The gun sections
had L-shaped trenches near their howitzers where the men stayed until Lieutenant
Peters or Lieutenant McKinney called out a fire mission.
During the night the enemy, signaling with whistles and horns, launched four
separate attacks against Lieutenant Heath's company. Most of the action fell
against the 3d Platoon. Toward morning the artillery battery commander (Lt.
Arthur Rochnowski) sent twenty men up to help on Company G's line.
At first light on the morning of 14 February, there were Chinese near the
front line in front of the 3d and the 1st Platoons, although only three enemy
soldiers actually reached it. One of these was killed and the other two captured
soon afterward. Five or six Chinese remained near the road cut machine-gun
outpost until daylight, then tried to crawl back across the rice paddies. At the
limiting point between the 1st and the 3d Platoons, which had been under enemy
pressure for several hours, a small group withdrew, leaving 12 or 15 bodies on
the south slope of the hill. The platoon sergeant of the 3d Platoon (Sgt. Bill
C. Kluttz), in a foxhole next to the one occupied by Lieutenant McGee, spotted
several Chinese in the creek bed just in front. He fired several times at them.
Suspecting the presence of other Chinese, Lieutenant McGee ordered him to have
the rocket launcher fired into the creek bed. Sergeant Kluttz fired the launcher
himself. The rocket hit a tree, making an air burst over the creek bed. About
forty Chinese came out of the creek bed and began running across the rice
paddies in front of the 1st Platoon, which opened fire on them. By the time it
was completely light, all enemy activity had stopped.
During the day of 14 February, the artillerymen and infantrymen rebuilt their
defenses in preparation for another attack. At 0900 Lieutenant McGee took out a
patrol which captured 5 Chinese hiding in a culvert and 17 others who were
wounded and lying in the rice paddies south of the company's position. McGee c
ounted 18 enemy bodies. Near Masan, he walked up to a
small haystack. Near it was an abandoned enemy machine gun. As a wounded Chinese
raised up in the haystack to shoot the platoon leader, Sergeant Kluttz shot and
killed the enemy soldier. Another Chinese, although handicapped by a badly
wounded leg, was still trying to operate a Soviet burp gun when Cpl. Boleslaw M.
Sander killed him.
Captain Elledge and several other artillerymen set out to examine the area
around the battery's position. Eight hundred yards west of the machine guns in
the road cut, there was a house that Captain Elledge decided should be destroyed
before the Chinese could occupy it if they attacked that night.
Since the house was visible from the howitzer position, the 5th Section (Sgt.
James Webb) took it under direct fire, using white phosphorus shells.
After the third round the house began burning, and about fifteen enemy
soldiers ran from it across the flat ground. The two machine-gunners and men
from the French Battalion killed eight of them; the other Chinese escaped.
During the day the artillerymen dug new and deeper holes and personnel
trenches around the howitzers, since they found many of the holes they had dug
unsatisfactory during the first night's attack. The battery commander also
relaid his howitzers so that, instead of the usual two platoons of three
howitzers each, they were laid in pairs. The two howitzers on the left were laid
on an azimuth of 5,600 mils, the center laid on 6,400 mils, and those on the
right were laid on 800 mils. The normal volume of harassing fires was scheduled
for the night of 14 February, about 250 rounds for the battery.
During the afternoon the commander of Company G (Lieutenant Heath) went over
to Battery B's fire direction tent to work out plans with Lieutenant Rochnowski
and Captain Elledge for the defense of the company and battery position. After
the experience of the night before, all were confident of being able to hold if
the enemy renewed his attacks. They decided the Chinese were most apt to attack
the center of the company's front the highest part of the perimeter where
Lieutenant McGee's 3d Platoon was situated and to reinforce that area as much as
possible. Lieutenant Rochnowski agreed to set up three outpost positions and two
BAR teams on the 3d Platoon's right flank near the saddle directly behind his
battery. This was in addition to the two machine guns the artillerymen manned on
the front line. If it became necessary, he offered to send some of his
artillerymen up to fight with Heath's men. Rochnowski planned to send half of
the men from one platoon up on the hill first; if more were needed he would then
split up the other platoon and thereby contribute a total of about forty men.
Skeleton crews would continue to fire the howitzers.
During the day the 23d RCT received twenty-four airdrops of ammunition. There
were also several air strikes, including three south of the
Chipyong-ni perimeter where there appeared to be increased enemy activity.
Inside the perimeter enemy mortar rounds fell intermittently.
Company G had a quiet day. Hot meals were served. Some of the men thought
that perhaps the Chinese had withdrawn. That hope disappeared soon after dark.
First, flares appeared in the southern sky; then followed the sound of bugles.
After about half an hour or longer, while the men of Company G waited tensely in
their holes, a small enemy group opened fire on the machine gun in the center of
Lieutenant McGee's platoon, wounding the gunner. The previous night the enemy
had opened the fighting by firing on the machine gun. A squad-sized group of
Chinese was trying to reach Corporal Ottesen's gun by working along the spur
connecting the 3d Platoon's hill with the enemy-held Hill 397 to the south. An
enemy machine gun fired overhead cover for the small force. Enemy flares popped
in front of the company, and the firing built up rapidly into a furious and
noisy fight with the strongest enemy thrusts apparently aimed at the center of
the 3d Platoon and at the saddle between it and the 1st Platoon. Tracers arched
over the artillery's gun position.
Down at Company G's kitchen tent members of the mess crew heard the firing.
They had neglected to dig foxholes and now the closest and best protection was
the garbage pit. Eight men crowded into it. None of them made any funny remarks
about the odor. An artilleryman with no protection of his own set out looking
for any unoccupied foxhole. He finally found one with a man stretched out in the
bottom, and jumped in.
"There ain't no room in this hole," the first man said; "not for
"No room hell!" said the second man. "We'll make room!"
Up on the hill two squads succeeded in penetrating the front line at the left
end of the 1st Platoon, occupying several foxholes next to the saddle.
The line was further weakened when these Chinese, having gained a foothold on
the hill, planted pole charges in two of the 1st Platoon's holes; the resulting
explosions killed four men. The enemy, now in control of the left side of the
1st Platoon's sector, set up a machine gun and started firing across the area of
Lieutenant McGee's 3d Platoon. The leader of the 1st Platoon had his command
post in a hut a short distance from another hut being used by the company
commander. Without informing Lieutenant Heath, the leader of the 1st Platoon
remained in his hut after the fighting started and did not join his platoon on
the hill. He did maintain wire communication with his platoon sergeant (Sgt.
Donald R. Schmitt) on the hill.
Because of the fire coming from the 1st Platoon's area, Lieutenant McGee
began to suspect that platoon had lost some foxholes in its sector. He called
the company commander on the telephone.
"Heath," he asked, "is the 1st Platoon still in position?"
Heath at once called the leader of the 1st Platoon, who in turn called
Sergeant Schmitt on the hill. Schmitt was on the right end of the 1st Platoon's
position, next to the road cut, still holding and unaware that the
enemy had taken the opposite end of the platoon position. He claimed the line
was still solid. Lieutenant Heath relayed the information to McGee.
Lieutenant McGee, however, still had his doubts. He and his platoon sergeant
(Sergeant Kluttz) shouted over to the 1st Platoon area, "Anyone from the 1st
There was no answer.
Activities in his own area now took up Lieutenant McGee's interest as enemy
soldiers overran one of his own foxholes. On the right flank of his platoon's
sector, next to the saddle, he could see four Chinese soldiers with shovels
strapped on their backs crawling on their hands and knees. They were about
fifteen feet above and behind a hole occupied by the squad leader on the
platoon's right flank.
By this time the sound-powered telephone line to the squad leader was out, so
McGee shouted across to him: "There are four of them at the rear of your hole.
Toss a grenade up and over."
A burst from a machine gun in the 1st Platoon's area one now manned by the
enemy prevented the squad leader from standing up to lob the grenade. Lieutenant
McGee and the other occupant of his foxhole (Pvt. Cletis Inmon, a runner),
firing a BAR and rifle, respectively, killed the four enemy soldiers. The time
was now about 2200.
The right-flank squad leader's troubles were not yet over. Lieutenant McGee
looked down the slope and saw a group of Chinese crawl out of the dry creek bed
and start up the hill toward the squad leader's hole.
McGee called to him, "About fifteen or twenty of them are coming up to your
With the enemy-manned machine gun firing frequent short bursts over his hole,
the squad leader did not want to stand up high enough to see and fire at the
enemy. Although Lieutenant McGee and Inmon kept firing at the Chinese, they
could not stop them, and the enemy continued to crawl up toward the squad
leader's hole, which was on the 3d Platoon's right flank next to the saddle. The
Chinese began throwing potato-masher grenades toward the hole, which the squad
leader shared with two other men. The squad leader and one of the other men a
sergeant climbed out, ran to McGee's hole, and jumped in on top of him and
Inmon. The sergeant was hit on the way over. The enemy then threw a satchel
charge into the hole they had just left and killed the man who had remained
With these men on top of him, Lieutenant McGee could neither see nor fire.
"Get the hell out of here, and get back with your squad!" he yelled.
The squad leader did not budge, and McGee repeated the order. The squad
leader then jumped out and was immediately shot through the shoulder. Lieutenant
McGee called for a litter team, and the two men-the sergeant and the squad
leader were evacuated under fire.
By this time other enemy soldiers had started crawling up the slope
toward Lieutenant McGee's position. One of them threw three grenades at McGee
before the lieutenant killed the Chinese with a BAR he had taken from one of his
men who had just been hit. The BAR was jamming on every tenth round. Lieutenant
McGee used his pocket knife to extract the case. Finally he dropped the knife
and was unable to find it in the dark. Quickly, he abandoned the automatic rifle
and tried to fire his carbine at a Chinese who had crawled up to within ten feet
of his hole. As the enemy soldier raised up on his knees, McGee pulled back the
bolt to load the carbine, but at this critical moment the cold oil on the
mechanism stopped the bolt from going home, and the weapon would not fire. McGee
grabbed the operating handle and slammed the bolt in, fired four rounds at the
Chinese, killing him. Men in nearby holes killed three other enemy soldiers who
got close to Company G's front line.
It was now close to 2300. Lieutenant McGee needed help. Since wire
communications were out, he ordered his platoon runner (PFC John N. Martin) to
return to the company's command post and inform Lieutenant Heath that the
platoon urgently needed men, ammunition, and litter teams.
After receiving this request, Lieutenant Heath stepped outside and shouted
over to the artillery fire direction center asking Lieutenant Rochnowski for
help up on the hill. The battery commander, in turn, called to is sections. In a
few minutes fifteen artillerymen assembled. The runner (Martin) led them up
toward the 3d Platoon's hill. As they crossed the crest of the hill the enemy
opened fire on them. Lieutenant McGee watched with a sinking sensation as a
mortar round killed one and wounded another, and the rest of the reinforcing
group turned and ran back down the hill. Martin then returned to the rear area
to guide the company's wire team, which was carrying ammunition up to the
Lieutenant Heath stopped the artillerymen at the bottom of the hill, reformed
them, and led them back up the hill himself. By this time, fighting on the hill
had erupted into a frenzy of firing, with the enemy in full possession of that
sector of Company G's line near the saddle. Near the top of the hill Lieutenant
Heath's group fell apart again, the men running hard toward the bottom. With his
men all gone, Heath started back after them. He was angry, and was yelling so
loudly the men in the fire direction center tent could hear him. Halfway down
the hill he stopped and stood there. Yelling for more help, ordering the men to
return and re-form their line. When they didn't, he ran on to the bottom.
Heath grabbed a couple of the men by their clothing, yelling: "Goddammit, get
back up on that hill! You'll die down here anyway. You might as well go up on
the hill and die there."
Tracers from the enemy machine gun stretched along the hilltop like red
beads. Flares popped overhead. The area was alternately dimly lighted, and dark
as if someone were turning street lights on and off. When the artillerymen tried
to find cover, Lieutenant Heath ran back and forth yelling and pulling at the
men to persuade them to stand up and move. It was now
between midnight and 0100 on 15 February.
Captain Elledge heard Lieutenant Heath calling for help. He went out in the
gun park and yelled for men to help fight. The inexperienced artillerymen
responded slowly. Captain Elledge went around the howitzers, pulled several men
from their holes and, with a force of about ten men, set out for the left flank
of the area still held by the 1st Platoon. Reaching the forward slope of the
hill he found the caliber .30 machine gun there was silent; its three-man crew
had been killed. Elledge stationed three men in the machine-gun pit and spread
the others along the hill, then examined the machine gun. It was binding,
apparently having been hit. There was no ammunition. Captain Elledge put the
machine gun on his shoulders and ran down the hill with it, after telling his
men there that he would bring another one back immediately. He exchanged the
damaged gun for an extra caliber .50 machine gun of Battery B. With it and a box
of ammunition, he returned to the hill. He set up the weapon, turned it over to
the three men, and then continued along the ridge, moving to the right toward
the road cut. He wanted to see what the situation was.
Positions still manned by the 1st Platoon were a few yards down the forward
slope of the hill, below Captain Elledge. Toward the west end of the hill he
heard some odd noises, and stopped beside a three-foot-high grave mound near the
top of the hill. Nearby were several men whom he suspected were Chinese. He
could not see them, but he could hear them making low whistling sounds, like an
owl, probably as a signal to other enemy soldiers. He waited there on his hands
and knees, listening. In a few moments he could hear someone crawling over the
crusted snow. Raising to look over the mound, he came face to face with an enemy
soldier who was also peering over the mound. Captain Elledge was holding his
carbine in his right hand. It was set to operate on automatic and was pointed in
the general direction of the Chinese. He pulled the trigger and hit the man in
the chest. Right behind this Chinese was another whom Captain Elledge shot
through the head. A third enemy soldier threw a small "ink bottle" grenade which
exploded and hit Elledge in the shoulder. With his arm numb, and figuring he was
badly hit, Elledge slid on down the hill and went back to the battery's mess
Soon after 2200, Lieutenant Heath's main line of resistance began to break up
when the enemy seized and held part of the 1st Platoon's sector. The three hours
that followed were filled with fighting as intense and as frantic as any in
which the infantrymen had participated. Although the entire regimental perimeter
was under attack, it appeared then that the main effort was directed against
Company G. And within that company, the 1st and 3d Platoons were standing
athwart the two routes by which the enemy tried to reach the top of Company G's
hill. One of these routes followed the spur that led from Hill 397 into the
center of the 3d Platoon; the other route ran from the dead space in the creek bed to the saddle at the
boundary between the 3d and 1st Platoons. Loss of this saddle early in the night
seriously weakened the company's defenses, especially when the leader of the 1st
Platoon, not knowing that the enemy had wrested these foxholes from his men,
claimed to be in possession of the area for an hour or two after the enemy had
been firing the American machine gun from there. This gave the enemy ample time
to organize the saddle before the Americans counterattacked.
Lieutenant Heath used all the supporting fire he could get. He had mortar
fire from his own light mortars, the 81-mm weapons from Company H, and some help
from the regimental Heavy-Mortar Company. The explosions from these shells, most
of which fell in the area immediately south of Company G, sounded almost
humdrum. The 37th Field Artillery Battalion shelled the slope of Hill 397 1,500
yards south of Company G. Enemy mortar shells fell on the north side of the
hill, among Battery B's 155-mm howitzers, and on the French Battalion across the
road. At frequent intervals illuminating flares appeared in the sky, and one
time a plane dropped three large parachute flares which hovered in the sky above
Battery B. They burned for thirty seconds or longer, turning the natural bowl
from which the battery was firing into a large room flooded with bluish light.
By this time the Chinese had a machine gun operating in the saddle and swung it
toward the howitzers, raking the area.
Up on the hill the main weapons were small arms, grenades and explosive
charges. The Chinese were fighting for each foxhole, receiving heavy casualties,
but also taking some of the holes on Lieutenant Heath's front line and killing
and wounding men from Company G and Battery B. The walking wounded slid down the
hill and gathered at the building used as the company's command post or at one
of the tents set up by the artillerymen, or walked toward the medical clearing
station in Chipyongni.
Lieutenant Heath, realizing that the enemy now held the saddle and the flank
of both the 1st and the 3d Platoons, tried unsuccessfully to form a
counterattack force from the artillerymen. Several groups of artillerymen were
fighting determinedly, including a caliber .so machine-gun crew and individuals
along the line. But those men Heath tried to build into a counter-attacking
force were the artillerymen who had been on the front line and left when heavy
fighting commenced, or others who had avoided getting into combat in the first
After the first three attempts to reach the top of the hill failed,
Lieutenant Heath went to the artillery commander for more men, and then
organized his line for another counterattack.
"We're going up that goddam hill or bust," he wept yelling.
While Heath struggled to hold his men together and counterattack, McGee's 3d
Platoon gradually lost more men and foxholes. The enemy machine gun, firing from
a position in the former sector of the 1st Platoon, sent a bullet through the
left eye of Private Inmon (the platoon runner in
McGee's foxhole). He started shouting: "I'm hit in the face! I'm hit in the
face! Get me back off this hill!"
Blood spurted from his eye as the platoon leader tried to calm him down.
Lieutenant McGee told him to lie down. "I can't take you out now," he said. He
shouted across to his platoon sergeant for the medic. "Inmon's been hit."
Within a few minutes the aid man came over and bandaged Inmon's head.
Lieutenant McGee wanted Inmon to keep on firing his rifle but the wounded man
said he could not see well enough, so McGee asked him to load clips for his
carbine while he fired.
The 3d Platoon's strongest weapon was Corporal Ottesen's machine gun located
in the center of its sector. It fired along the spur over which the enemy
crawled toward Company G's line, and enemy soldiers had tried repeatedly to
silence it. Some time after midnight two enemy soldiers managed to flank
Ottesen's hole and tossed in two grenades, knocking out the gun. Corporal
Ottesen became missing in action.
No longer hearing the machine gun, Lieutenant McGee called to his platoon
sergeant (Sergeant Kluttz) who was between him and the gun.
"What's happened to the machine gun?" he asked. "It's quit
Sergeant Kluttz told him the position had been overrun and that Chinese were
coming through between Corporal Ottesen's squad and Cpl. Raymond Bennett's
squad. Bennett's squad, holding the left flank of the platoon, had not been
attacked. McGee called him on the sound-powered telephone and ordered him to
shift several men over to fill the gap left by the knocked-out machine gun. He
also sent his other runner (PFC John Martin) to find Lieutenant Heath and ask
for ammunition and for replacements to fill the empty holes along his defensive
line. Heath, in turn, called Colonel Edwards, who immediately sent a squad from
Company F's uncommitted platoon to bolster Company G's line. 
While this squad was on the way, Corporal Bennett succeeded in closing the
gap where Corporal Ottesen's machine gun had been. A group of Chinese was still
trying hard to seize that part of the hill. There was a bugler in the group whom
Bennett shot as he tooted his second note. In the melee, however, Corporal
Bennett was hit by a hand grenade which blew off part of his hand. Then a bullet
hit him in the shoulder, and shortly thereafter a shell fragment struck him in
the head. The soundpowered telephone went out, and Lieutenant McGee lost contact
with Bennett's squad.
It was nearly 0200 when Sgt. Kenneth G. Kelly arrived with a squad from
Company F's support platoon. This squad had the mission of recovering the part
of Company G's line that had fallen to the enemy, especially the saddle between
the two platoons. Sergeant Kluttz guided the men west toward the enemy-occupied
foxholes and immediately started a fire fight that wounded or killed the entire
squad from Company F within ten minutes.  After killing two Chinese who fired burp guns at him but missed,
Sergeant Kluttz returned to tell Lieutenant McGee what had happened.
"Lieutenant," he said, "we've got to stop them!"
The enemy attack continued without let-up. It was not one calculated to
overrun the entire hill but a persistent, gnawing assault that progressed from
one hole to the next. The Chinese held most of the holes on that part of the
hill between the road cut and the saddle, and those on the right flank of the
weakened 3d Platoon. Then, between 0200 and 0300, the 2d Platoon, which was not
under heavy fire, pulled back its right flank from its position in the rice
paddies, thus breaking contact with Lieutenant McGee's platoon and taking away a
machine gun that had been supporting the 3d Platoon. Only a few men from the 3d
Platoon were left.
Lieutenant McGee shouted over to Sergeant Kluttz to ask how Corporal
Bennett's squad was making out.
"I think three or four of them are still left," the Sergeant answered.
McGee's platoon was low on ammunition and Sergeant Kluttz was having trouble
with the machine gun he was firing.
Growing discouraged, Lieutenant McGee called to his platoon sergeant, "It
looks like they've got us, Kluttz."
"Well," Sergeant Kluttz called back, "let's kill as many of these sons of
bitches as we can before they get us."
Once in possession of part of Company G's hill, the Chinese fired into the
bowl-shaped area among the artillery and mortarmen, causing several casualties.
The leader of the 4th Platoon (Lt. Carl F. Haberman) moved his mortars to a
ditch a hundred yards or more to the rear. He then set out to find men to help
retake the hill and eliminate the enemy fire. He walked into a squad tent filled
"Hell," he said, "a squad tent won't stop bullets."
Haberman persuaded five or six men to accompany him. They went outside with
him but none would climb the hill.
Some time between 0230 and 0300 Company G lost the rest of its hill. Sergeant
Schmitt and the remainder of the 1st Platoon came down from the west end of the
company's sector. In the center of the company's front, Sergeant Kluttz's
machine gun jammed. He and Lieutenant McGee decided to try to get out. They
called to the other men, threw what grenades they had left, and climbed over the
crest of the hill. Lieutenant McGee and five other men, all who were left from
the 3d Platoon, walked on down the hill.
Lieutenant Heath called his battalion commander (Colonel Edwards) to report
the loss of his company's position. Since a break occurring anywhere around the
small regimental perimeter was serious, Colonel Edwards ordered a counterattack
and promised to send help. His battalion reserve now consisted of the support
platoon of Company F less the squad that had been lost while attacking the saddle. After ordering this platoon to move to
Company G's area, Edwards appealed to Colonel Freeman (CO, 23d Infantry) for
more help. Colonel Freeman was fixed no better for reserve strength. An attached
Ranger company constituted his reserve, but because of another severe enemy
thrust at his 3d Battalion, Colonel Freeman was reluctant to commit his entire
reserve in Company G's area. He agreed to furnish one platoon from the Ranger
company and a tank. 
Since so few of Company G's men were left, Colonel Edwards decided to put one
of his battalion staff officers (Lt. Robert Curtis) in command of the two
platoons. Curtis set out to meet the Ranger platoon and guide it into
While these two platoons were on the way, Lieutenant Heath attempted to form
a defensive line along a four- or five-foot rib of ground that crossed the
center of the bowl-shaped area just behind the artillery position. At the fire
direction center several artillerymen were firing an illuminating mission when
they heard Heath's voice outside. Heath was now speaking in a normal voice as he
stationed one of his men on the new defensive line.
"We'll form our line right along here," he explained to the man, "just back
of this tent."
The artillerymen looked at one another for a few seconds.
"I guess it's time to get out of here," one of them said.
They pulled a blanket over two wounded men who lay on the ground, and
prepared to leave. Just then the telephone rang. It was the S-3 of the 37th
Field Artillery Battalion inquiring about the illuminating mission he had
"Where the hell are my flares?" he asked.
"Excuse me, sir," answered the artilleryman, "but our position is being
He dropped the telephone, followed the others outside, and crossed to the
opposite side of the road in front of the howitzers. A three-foothigh embankment
there afforded good protection. Other artillerymen were already behind it. The
artillerymen did not abandon their howitzers; they could still cover the
battery's position by fire.
Lieutenant Curtis, with the platoon from Company F and the Ranger platoon,
reached Company G about 0330.  Lieutenant Curtis took command of the two
platoons but immediately encountered trouble from the commander of the Ranger
company. The latter officer had come with the platoon from his company. He
claimed that the platoon, being a part of regimental reserve, was to take orders
only from the regimental commander. Curtis immediately called his battalion
headquarters to explain the situation to Colonel Edwards, who solved the problem
by putting another staff officer this time a captain in command of the composite
It was between 0345 and 0400, 15 February, when Capt. John H. Ramsburg left the
long, tin-roofed building that housed the battalion's command
post and set out for Company G's area. Except for Company G's sector where there
was brisk firing, the regimental perimeter was relatively quiet at the time. A
quarter of a mile beyond the railroad tracks Ramsburg turned left, following a
trail that led from the road to the house where Lieutenant Heath had established
his command post.
Along the trail there was a quad caliber .so halftrack. An hour or two before
the crew with the vehicle had accidentally run into a ditch, nearly tipping the
halftrack over. Unable to get it into firing position, the crew had abandoned
the weapon and vehicle. Lieutenant Curtis was standing near he halftrack. There
was enough light in the area for Captain Ramsburg to recognize him at a distance
of ten or fifteen feet.
"Christ, John," Lieutenant Curtis said, "but I'm glad to see you here!
Can't do anything with these Rangers."
He went on to explain that the commander of the Ranger company objected to
having a platoon from his company attached to another unit, to having it
participate in a counterattack, and that he refused to take orders from anyone
but the regimental commander.
Captain Ramsburg went first to Lieutenant Heath's command post where he
called Colonel Edwards in order to report that he and both platoons were at the
position. He then talked with the commander of the Ranger company to establish
his position as commander of the infantry units in that sector.
At the time the few men left from Company G and those from the platoons from
Company F and the Ranger company were all mixed together just a line of bodies
on the ground firing against the hill to discourage the enemy from attempting a
further advance. Captain Ramsburg had the platoon leaders separate their units
and sort out the artillerymen whom he sent across the road where most men from
the battery had assembled. Since none of Company G's communications facilities
was working at the time, Captain Ramsburg asked Lieutenant Curtis to send men to
Chipyongni for more radios. He then asked Lieutenant McGee to have the mortars
moved closer to the line of departure so that he could call out orders to the
In the meantime, the two platoon leaders re-formed their men. There were 36
men in the platoon from the Ranger company, 28 in the platoon from Company F. In
addition, there were 6 or 7 mortarmen, 2 machinegun crews, and 4 or 5 men left
from Company G. To the two platoon leaders he outlined his plan: following a
short mortar concentration, the two machine guns would commence firing at the
top of the ridge and over the heads of the attacking men who were to move on
Captain Ramsburg's signal. The Ranger platoon, on the right, was to attack the
hill formerly held by the 1st Platoon of Company G, while the platoon from
Company F was to assault Lieutenant McGee's former position.
It was still dark when a man returned with three SCR-536 radios one each for
Captain Ramsburg and his two platoon leaders. The enemy was fairly quiet at the
time and had not interfered with organizing the attack. After testing the radios
and getting all men in position on the line of departure, Captain Ramsburg
called for mortar fire. The first round, fired from a range of not more than 150
yards, landed squarely on the crest of the ridge.
"That where you want 'em?" one of the mortarmen asked.
"That's exactly right," Captain Ramsburg yelled back. "Now go ahead and
sweep the hill in both directions."
He asked for a five-minute concentration. The mortarmen doubted that their
ammunition would last that long. After two or three minutes, Captain Ramsburg
signaled for machine-gun fire. The two guns went into action, but after a few
bursts enemy mortar rounds landed nearby, and both the friendly mortars and the
machine guns had to cease firing. Eight or ten rounds landed between the line of
departure and the mortar crews about twenty yards behind it. The explosions
wounded at least six men, including the leader of the platoon from Company
The commander of the Ranger company, thinking that friendly rounds were
falling short, called for the mortar crews to cease firing. The shouting
interfered with efforts to get the attack under way. Captain Ramsburg became
angry. He ordered the Ranger commander to gather up and evacuate his wounded
men, hoping thereby to get rid of the commander as well as the wounded men.
The platoon sergeant took command of the platoon from Company F, the machine
guns opened fire again, and Captain Ramsburg signaled for the jumpoff.
"OK, let's go!" he shouted.
The men stood up, commenced firing, and walked forward through crusted snow
which, in the low ground in front of the hill, was knee-deep in places. In a
minute or two the advancing line, with Captain Ramsburg moving in the center,
started up the hillside, the Rangers in the lead since men from that platoon,
all yelling loudly, pushed their attack fast.
Several enemy mortar rounds and a few grenades exploded on the slope of the
hill. In the middle of the attack, two guns located near the French Battalion's
hill fired into the Ranger platoon. The guns appeared to be either automatic
rifles or light machine guns, but Captain Ramsburg could not tell if the French
were firing by mistake, or if Chinese soldiers had set up guns in that area. Nor
did he later learn who was firing. The first burst was a long, steady one a
solid string of light from the gun to the Ranger platoon. After that there were
short bursts for a minute or longer while Captain Ramsburg and several other
men, believing this to be friendly fire, screamed to have it stopped. Several
Rangers were wounded by this fire.
Just before the attack jumped off, Lieutenant Curtis had gone to each of the
three tanks in that area to tell the tankers of the counterattack plans, and to
warn them not to fire without orders. He had just returned when the machine gun
fired into the Ranger platoon. One of the tank crews, having apparently decided
the machine gun firing from the French Battalion's hill was friendly and the
Rangers were enemy, disregarded orders and also opened fire, aiming the tank's
caliber .50 machine gun at the Ranger platoon. While Captain Ramsburg yelled at
the tankers, Lieutenant Curtis raced back and halted the machine gun, which had
fired for 20 or 30 seconds, only long enough to sweep across the hill once.
Besides creating more confusion, this caused additional casualties among the
Rangers, the remaining ones of whom, by this time, were near the top of their
hill still yelling among themselves.
Another gun this one definitely manned by the Chinese had meanwhile opened
fire into the left flank of the platoon from Company F, causing serious damage
in that area. The gun was in the rice paddies near the place where the 2d
Platoon of Company G had been, and gave the attacking force its first indication
that friendly troops had vacated that position. The commander of Company F
spotted the tracers from this enemy gun and directed mortar fire at it but was
unable to knock it out. As he afterward learned, the Chinese crew had been there
long enough to dig in and provide overhead protection for the gun.
Captain Ramsburg, occupied with the machine-gun fire hitting the right flank
of his line, did not know of the trouble the platoon from Company F was
experiencing on the opposite end. Lieutenant Curtis succeeded in silencing the
tank's fire. Several men from the Ranger platoon were already on top of their
objective shouting for help.
"We're on top!" they yelled. "Come on up! Get some men up
Other members of that platoon were still climbing the hill, but a third or
more were casualties by this time, the result of either friendly or enemy
A grenade exploded beside Captain Ramsburg just as the tank's fire ended and
he turned to go on up the hill. A fragment struck him in the foot. At the moment
he was holding a caliber .45 submachine gun in his right hand and at first he
thought that, in his anger and excitement over the machine-gun fire from his own
tanks, he had squeezed too hard on the trigger and shot himself through the
foot. He wondered how he would explain the accident to Colonel Edwards. He then
realized his gun was on full automatic and, had he pulled the trigger, it would
have fired several times. He also recalled seeing a flash and decided he had
been hit by a grenade fragment. He removed his glove and sat down to examine his
foot. The two machine-gun crews came by on their way to the top of the hill
where they were to relocate their guns. A little later Lieutenant Heath came up
the hill and stopped where Ramsburg was sitting.
(data lost here, sorry) permission to fire from the infantrymen. At the command post, Captain
Ramsburg had just given the order to pull out.
"Go ahead and fire," he told Captain Elledge. "No one's left up there."
Captain Elledge returned to the quad .50 and swept the length of the
enemy-held hill. The tank commander (MSgt. Andrew Reyna) appeared at that time
to ask for help in recovering sixteen wounded men artillerymen and infantrymen
who had been left at Battery B's supply tent near the foot of the hill and
directly under the enemy's guns. While Captain Elledge kept pounding the enemy
hilltop with fire from his four machine guns, Sergeant Reyna and his crew drove
the tank under the fire to the base of the hill, carried the wounded men from
the tent, piled them on the tank, and returned.
Captain Elledge had been firing so steadily that, in the first gray light of
the morning, artillerymen across the road could see heat waves shimmering above
the four guns.  Elledge scanned the area, looking for targets. He noticed
several enemy soldiers standing on the hill between the saddle and the road cut,
and suddenly realized they were preparing to fire a 75-mm recoilless rifle that
the 1st Platoon of Company G had left there. It was aimed directly at him.
Captain Elledge could see daylight through the tube. He watched as the Chinese
shoved a round into the breech, then he quickly turned his machine guns in that
direction and destroyed the enemy crew. 
Two wounded men had been left under a blanket in the fire direction center
tent. While one tank, firing from the road, covered the rescue, PFC Thomas S.
Allison and PFC Isaiah W. Williams (both members of the artillery wire section)
drove a 3/4-ton truck to the tent, loaded the two wounded men onto it, and
backed out again.
Lieutenant Curtis urged the remaining wounded men to start walking toward
Chipyong-ni, then ran to the road to tell the artillerymen that the infantrymen
were pulling back.
"You're the front line now," he told them.
The artillerymen, concerned about the safety of their howitzers, decided to
stay behind the road embankment where, by fire, they could keep the Chinese out
of their battery's position. Two tanks on the road separating the artillerymen
from their howitzers regularly fired short machine-gun bursts into the
blackened, chewed-up top of the hill.
At the command post only nine wounded men were left not counting Captain
Ramsburg, who stayed behind to supervise the withdrawal. All nine were seriously
wounded and waiting for litters and a vehicle to carry them to the battalion's
aid station. They were lying on the ground near the straw-roofed buildings. As
Lieutenant Curtis returned to the command post, a bugle sounded and he saw 10 or
12 Chinese soldiers coming down the highest hill the one originally defended by
Lieutenant McGee's platoon. Curtis pointed out the enemy to the wounded men.
"If you fellows don't leave now," he told them, "you'll never leave. There
aren't enough men left to protect you."
All nine men left, somehow or other moving with only the help they could give
one another or get from Lieutenant Curtis, who followed them, heading back to
the new defensive position. 
Only two men both sergeants remained at the command post with Captain
Ramsburg. The sergeants pulled out the telephones and the three men started
toward Chipyong-ni, moving across the frozen rice paddies. Before they had gone
far, however, an enemy machine-gunner fired at them. They broke into a run.
Captain Ramsburg, disregarding his broken ankle which was now stiff and sore,
sprinted the entire distance to the new hilltop.
The quad .50 still manned by Captain Elledge and the three tanks pounded the
enemy hill with machine-gun fire. One of the artillery officers yelled for a gun
crew to man a howitzer, and half a dozen men scrambled over the road embankment
and dashed to one of the 155-mm howitzers. Turning it around, they fired six
white phosphorus shells that blossomed into white streamers of smoke and fire
along the hillside. At such close range, the sound of the propelling charge and
the sound of the shell burst were barely separated. 
At the new position, Captain Ramsburg joined the survivors of the ten hour
enemy attack, as well as the remaining two platoons of the Ranger company
attached to Colonel Edwards's battalion. All of the men experienced a feeling of
relief when daylight came on 15 February, because the enemy soldiers usually
withdrew then. This time, however, the Chinese did not withdraw. They conducted
a determined defense against an attack made by the Ranger company and Company B,
supported by air strikes, artillery, and tanks, and directed by Colonel Edwards.
It was evening before the enemy was defeated and withdrew.
Several inches of snow fell during the night of 15-16 February, covering
several hundred Chinese bodies on the hill originally defended by Lieutenant
Heath's Company G. At Chipyong-ni the Chinese suffered their first defeat since
entering the Korean war.
(BK: Maybe by Army troops. The 7th Marines had earlier met and defeated an entire CCF division)
If the commander of an attacking force disregards casualties, he will usually
be able to attain at least local successes. The commander of defending troops
faced with such an opponent must be prepared to limit any such successes. He
holds the shoulders of any penetration. He uses supporting fires and positions
in depth to blunt, slow down, and finally to stop the spearhead of the attack.
Once the penetration has been contained, the defending commander then
counterattacks to eliminate it.
A counterattack plan is based on the answers to these questions: When?
Where? How many?
Prematurely launched counterattacks meet the enemy head on,
before the enemy attack has lost its impetus, and before the enemy has been
softened by fire. Tardy counterattacks meet the enemy entrenched and reinforced.
Thus, ill-timed counterattacks no matter how gallantly executed often fail.
Terrain and the disposition of the enemy within the penetration probably will
dictate where the counterattack should strike. But a knowledge of all the many
factors that go to make up both the enemy and friendly situation is necessary to
determine the strength of the counter-attack. The entire reserve should not be
committed to action unless necessary. Nor should "a boy be sent to do a man's
Some highlights of the action at Chipyong-ni bear emphasizing by
Note that Company G was first alerted to an attack by the sound of digging.
Note also the use of the machine gun to replace the recoilless rifle at night a
move that not only kept the rifle blast from disclosing the position but also
used the available personnel to the maximum with a weapon much better suited to
the requirements of close-in night fighting.
The reprehensible actions of some of the men of Battery B, 503d Field
Artillery Battalion, cannot be attributed to inexperience alone. Few men will
perform well when they are formed into an impromptu group of individuals to do
an unfamiliar job. The infantry squad needs teamwork and an interdependence
within itself attributes that must reach the maximum in assault combat. An
infantry squad will fight its best only when each member has confidence in all
other members and in the commanders and leaders over it. Twenty artillerymen who
have not demonstrated to one another their individual abilities as infantrymen
and who are placed under the leadership of a stranger cannot be expected to
behave with distinction. Captain Elledge, who obviously enjoyed the fight, is of
a type that occurs not very often. If artillerymen are to be used as infantry,
they must be so trained and so organized.
- 2d Division Artillery: S-3 journal, entry J6, 110910, February 195l.
- 2d Division, command report: 23d Infantry Regiment, February 1951,
appendix 1, section D.
- Lt.Col. James W. Edwards, "The Siege of Chipyong-ni" (unpublished
manuscript on file in OCMH), p. 1.
- Edwards, op. Cit. (Sketch maps of these positions prepared by Colonel
Edwards, battalion commander at the time of the action, on file in OCMH).
Unless otherwise noted, that part of this account describing the actions of
Company G, 23d Infantry, is based upon a manuscript by Major Edward C.
Williamson ("Chipyong-ni: Defense of South Sector of 23d Regimental Combat
Team Perimeter by Company G, 13-l5 February 195l"), prepared in Korea from
interviews with personnel of the battalion. That part describing the
activities of Battery B, 503d FA Battalion, is based upon interviews by the
author with key personnel of the battery, and upon several with Capt. John A.
Elledge, 37th FA Battalion.
5. Edwards, op. cit., pp. 15-l6.
6. Edwards, loc. cit.
7. X Corps: command report, February 1951 (narrative section). See also map z
in that report.
8. Ibid. See also map 4 in that report.
9. 2d Division, command report: 23d Infantry Regiment, February 1951.
10. X Corps: command report, February 1951 (Enclosure 1, "Battle of
Chipyong-ni"); hereafter cited as X Corps: Chipyong-ni.
11. For details on the question of holding Chipyong-ni, see X Corps:
Chipyong-ni; 2d Division: G3 journal, entry J79, 131422 February, entry J80,
131428 February, and entry J56, 131055 February 1951.
12. X Corps: Chipyong-ni.
13. Statement by Capt. John A. Elledge.
14. Capt. John A. Elledge, in an interview by the author upon which this
account is based.
15. Edwards, op. cit., p. 29.
16. Edwards, loc. cit.
17. Edwards, op. cit., p. 3o.
18. Capt. John H. Ramsburg, in an interview by the author. Unless otherwise
noted, the account of the second counterattack to retake Company G's sector is
based upon that interview. For more details on the difficulties created by the
commander of the Ranger company, see Edwards, op. cit., and Lt Robert Curtis,
letter to the author, 22 July 1952.
19. Lt. Donald 0. Miller, letter to Major Roy E. Appleman, 18 October
20. Curtis, op. cit.
21. Ramsburg, op. cit.
23. Ramsburg, op. cit., Elledge, op. Cit. 24. Ibid.
25. Elledge, op. cit.
26. Curtis, op. cit.
27. Ramsburg, op. cit.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation
The Foundations of Freedom are the Courage of Ordinary People and Quality of our Arms