* North of the 38th parallel and on the east side of the Korean peninsula is
a large area crowded with steep-sided hills. Most of the valleys are wide enough
for only a stream, a footpath, or a narrow road, and a few tiny rice paddies
terraced in the draws like stair steps. There is not much land suitable for
growing rice, and the houses are few, the settlements scattered. 
Here, troops of the United Nations and the opposing Communist armies
stabilized their lines during the Panmunjom truce talks. Among these wrinkled
and half-barren hills, Noname Ridge was only an obscure finger ridge. Four or
five miles straight east of Heartbreak Ridge and near the northwestern rim of a
volcano-like crater called the Punchbowl, Noname Ridge was in the area between
the friendly front lines and the main defensive position of a North Korean unit.
The only prominent feature about it was a little fresh dirt left exposed by
enemy soldiers who were constructing new bunkers and trenches there. The dirt
was more noticeable because of the snow which, even in early April of 1952,
still covered many of the hills, especially in the low and shaded places. Noname
Ridge was about a thousand yards from the enemy's main lines, and from positions
of the U.S. 35th Infantry (25th Infantry Division). It was within range of
One of these patrols, scheduled for the night of 3 April 1952, fell to
Company A, 35th Infantry, which at the time was manning reserve positions behind
the front lines. If possible, battalion commanders assigned combat patrol missions
to reserve units because they did not like to weaken
their main defenses by using front-line companies for patrolling.
The regiment planned the patrol action on 28 March, naming Lt. John H.
Chandler patrol leader. His mission was to conduct a combat patrol to Noname
Ridge to kill or capture any enemy encountered. For the job, he was to take a
force consisting of two reinforced rifle squads.
Chandler received the patrol plans on the afternoon of 2 April. He selected
two squads from his 3d Platoon and several men from the other squads in order to
have a total of twenty, including himself. The next afternoon (3 April) he took
his nineteen men to a high point overlooking the planned route and briefed them
on the patrol scheduled for that night. He pointed out the objective, one of the
enemy construction sites on Noname Ridge, and explained that he hoped to
surprise an enemy working party while it was digging and unarmed. If possible,
the patrol would capture one or more North Koreans, or kill them if capture were
Using available maps, Lieutenant Chandler had constructed a sand model
outlining the most prominent terrain features and the objective patrol. Aerial
photographs were not available, and consequently, there were features of the
ridges and the draws he did not include in the model. However, the model was
good enough to plan the routes of advance and withdrawal and to show the known
characteristics of the objective area. Just before the briefing ended,
Lieutenant Chandler reminded the men of the battalion's rule concerning
"Casualties, dead or wounded," he said, "are never left by the rest of the
patrol. If any man is left on the field, the entire unit will return to find
him and bring him back."
When the patrol assembled after supper, Lieutenant Chandler divided the men
into two sections: an assault squad of 8 men and himself, and a fire support
squad of the other 11 men.
Two men of the assault squad carried automatic rifles. For mutual assistance
and for protection, Chandler paired each BAR man with another man armed with a
carbine. The other members of the assault squadChandler, an assistant patrol
leader, the two scouts (one of whom was an ROK corporal serving with the 3d
Platoon), and the radio operator also carried automatic carbines.
In the fire-support squad the leader (Cpl. David Mitchell) and the assistant
squad leader (Cpl. Robert Kirschbaum) both carried Ml rifles, each with a
grenade launcher and two flares. Two men carried light machine guns, two were
armed with BARs, and the other five had carbines. In this squad also Chandler
paired each of the automatic weapons with a carbine for mutual support.
One man in each squad carried an SCR-300 radio; a man in the support squad
had a sound-powered telephone and two reels of light wire. Both
238 Combat Actions in Korea
wire and radio were tied in with communications at an observation post of
Company C on the main line of resistance. From this observation post
manned by Company C's commander, a liaison officer from Company A, and a
forward observer from the 64th Field Artillery Battalion there was direct
communication by both radio and telephone with the 1st Battalion's command post.
The battalion commander (Lt. Col. Philip G. Walker) wanted to be able to direct
the actions of both the patrol and the supporting artillery if it became
necessary to do so.
After satisfying himself that all details of his patrol were in order,
Lieutenant Chandler a man who was both careful and thorough waved his men
forward. The patrol crossed the main line of resistance at 2100. As Chandler led
his men down the finger toward the stream bed, the 105-mm howitzers of the 64th
Field Artillery Battalion fired their usual harassing and interdiction missions.
In planning the patrol, the regimental staff had timed the departure to coincide
with this evening fire, hoping it would keep the enemy under cover until the
patrol was in defilade.
In spite of the difficulty of moving on the steep, snow-covered slope, the
men maintained an orderly open column as they worked their way toward the draw.
At 2130 Lieutenant Chandler reported to Company C's observation post that he had
reached the first check point, located about halfway down the slope. After this
first descent the going was easier and the patrol reported from the second check
point twenty minutes later. The patrol was now about halfway to its objective.
The snow, which interfered with walking part of the time, also reflected enough
light to make it easier for the men to see. The moon, in its first quarter, came
up at about the time the patrol left the second check point and, since the night
was clear, there was good visibility thereafter.
This second check point was near the base of a draw. From this point, the
fingers leading up to Noname Ridge looked quite different from the way the
terrain had been shown on the map used in planning. In spite of Lieutenant
Chandler's careful planning, he was still in doubt as to which of two fingers he
should follow. After studying the ground for a few minutes, he chose one and
decided to follow it toward Noname Ridge. If this were the correct finger ridge,
he would find his objective point close to the top of it. If it were not the
correct one, the added elevation would enable him to check his position against
When the patrol reached the crest of the finger, Chandler led his men up the
slope of the ridge, through old communication trenches and close to enemy
bunkers. There was no sign of the enemy either sound or movement. The
infantrymen knew the enemy had maintained an outpost line of resistance on the
ridge and it seemed strange to them to be so close to enemy positions and yet to
find nothing to indicate that anyone else was near. After going about ninety
yards, Chandler concluded that he had chosen the wrong ridge. He turned down the
steep side of one ridge, crossed a sharp draw at the bottom and, with the rest of
the men following in single file, started up the face of the next ridge, which
he now realized was his original objective Noname Ridge.
By the time the patrol reached the crest of the second finger ridge it was
almost half an hour past midnight. Chandler reported his position to the
observation post, using the radio because all wire for the soundpowered
telephone had been used. The patrol, after traveling out of its way, had not
backtracked to recover the wire. Moreover, the telephone had not worked
satisfactorily after the patrol member carrying it had spliced the two reels of
wire. Perhaps the splice was faulty, or perhaps the thin wire lacked sufficient
insulation when the wire lay in wet snow.
By the time the patrol reached the objective, it had been out for about three
and a half hours. When Chandler reported to the observation post, it had made no
contact with the enemy, nor had it found any indications that there were enemy
soldiers in the area. When this report reached Colonel Walker, he instructed
Chandler to continue with his original mission.
"Get a prisoner if you can," the battalion commander told the patrol
leader. "If you can't, shoot 'em up. Decide upon the route you are going to
take to make contact, move forward a hundred yards, then report
When Chandler had made his decision, he called back to give it to Colonel
Walker so the battalion commander could continue to plot the patrol's course.
The patrol moved forward without incident. Colonel Walker told Chandler to go
another hundred yards and report again.
After the second move, the patrol members saw and heard movement in the
direction of the enemy's main defensive line. It appeared that enemy soldiers,
still some distance away, were coming down toward Noname Ridge. Chandler called
for artillery. In a few minutes, thirty-six 105mm shells fell in the area where
the enemy movement had been. The movement stopped with the incoming rounds, but
Lieutenant Chandler and his men could still hear voices from the vicinity of the
impact area. Though the patrol had now made some contact, it had not yet
accomplished its mission of capturing a prisoner. Cautiously, Chandler led his
men another hundred yards upward to a point about fifty yards from the very top
of the ridge.
Here the men stopped and listened. They could hear noise above them. There
were bunkers near the top of the ridge, and the men could hear North Koreans
talking and laughing. There were other noises which Chandler's men identified as
the sounds made by men while eating. Lieutenant Chandler called back over the
radio to Company C's observation post: "We're going on radio silence from here
on, so there won't be any chance that the radio will give us away before we're
Then he spent some time trying to determine the outline and construction of
the enemy's position.
From the patrol's location below the crest of the ridge, the men could see a
large bunker that would be a little to the left of the patrol's route of
approach. On each side there were other smaller bunkers.
Lieutenant Chandler formed the patrol into two lines facing the enemy's
position. The assault squad was disposed with an automatic-rifle man and another
man with a carbine on each flank, and the other men quite close together in the
center. Chandler and Cpl. Kim Bae were out in front; Sgt. William Schell
(assistant patrol leader), Pvt. Johnnie R. Banks (scout), and Cpl. Anthony
Darbonne (radio operator), were close behind them. The fire-support squad, with
its weapons posted in about the same pattern, stayed about twenty yards behind
the assault party.
In this formation the patrol moved stealthily ahead, the men walking upright
but ready to start crawling when necessary. When the patrol had covered about
twenty-five of the remaining yards to the enemy's position, PFC Van D. Randon,
carrying the BAR on the right flank of the assault squad, turned to PFC Charles
H. Baugher, who was walking behind him.
"There's wire right in front of you," Randon muttered. "Be
Baugher stepped over the wire. There was an explosion that threw him to the
ground, tipping him over on his right side. The other men of the patrol were not
much later in hitting the ground. It was about 0210.
In the immediate silence that followed, Baugher, who had apparently stepped
on a booby-trapped concussion grenade, felt for his foot and found it to be all
right although numb. The rest of the patrol lay quietly, waiting for the enemy
to come out of the bunkers to see what had tripped the grenade. Nothing
happened. The sounds of laughing, talking, and eating continued.
After waiting several minutes to make certain the North Koreans had ignored
the noise, Lieutenant Chandler crept forward with his assault squad. As Chandler
and his South Korean interpreter (Cpl. Kim Bae) approached the large bunker in
the center, they came upon a communication trench that joined at least the five
bunkers the patrol members could see. Chandler and Kim Bae jumped into the
trench. As they did so a North Korean came out of the big bunker a few feet away
to their left. Chandler and Kim Bae climbed back out of the trench.
The North Korean muttered a few words in guttural Korean, apparently a
challenge. Kim answered in Korean, but apparently the enemy was still
suspicious. When he first spoke he had unslung the burp gun he carried on his
shoulder; now he raised it to the ready position and fired. Several men from the
assault squad opened fire at the same time. Kim Bae threw a grenade. The North
Korean fell after he had fired about three rounds. No one there knew who had
killed him. With the need for silence past,
the men of the squad began shouting, breaking into a loud and profane argument
about "who killed the son of a bitch."
Back on the main line of resistance, half a mile away, men of Company C saw
the tracers scratch the night, and heard the sudden shouting. The fire fight was
Six North Koreans came streaming out of the big bunker. The assault squad
killed the first five with carbine and automatic-rifle fire; the sixth ducked
back into the bunker. One of Chandler's men threw two grenades into the big
bunker and after that no one came out, but for several minutes there was the
sound of yelling and screaming from inside.
There were other bunkers, however two on each side of the large one and North
Koreans from these soon appeared in the communication trench. But the BAR men on
the flanks (Private Randon and Cpl. Wilbur Harris) either killed them or drove
them back into protected positions. Maintaining a heavy rate of fire, the squad
managed to hold the initiative.
The North Koreans began throwing grenades. A heavy machine gun opened fire
from the patrol's left, from a position above the enemy's bunkers. But the gun
had to fire upward and in clearing the ridge put its bursts three or four feet
too high. In spite of the ineffectiveness of the enemy's gun, Cpl. James A.
Byrd, operating the light machine gun on the support squad's left flank, fired
back until his gun jammed. Corporal Mitchell moved over to help him clear the
piece, then continued firing until it jammed again. Lieutenant Chandler, still
in front, watched the tracers from both guns disappear harmlessly into the
"Stop firing the machine gun!" Chandler shouted to Mitchell. "You can't hit
Mitchell and Byrd then threw grenades over the crest in the direction of the
enemy gun, and the firing stopped.
A couple of North Koreans from the left bunkers attempted to work their way
along the communication trench. Harris, firing the BAR at that end of the line,
killed them. Chandler's men tossed several grenades in the trench and toward the
bunkers. After a few minutes three or four North Koreans tried to get around the
patrol's right flank. As they appeared silhouetted against the skyline, Cpl. Kim
Soo turned his light machine gun in that direction and saw three of them drop.
He had placed his gun so that he had grazing fire.
The North Koreans relied mainly on grenades. There had been some ineffective
small-arms fire at the beginning of the action, but Chandler's men silenced
these weapons. The enemy preferred to remain in defilade beyond the crest of the
hill or around the edge, and throw grenades into the patrol. The assault squad
had some protection from these missiles by its nearness to the enemy. Men of
this squad were so close to the trench the front of the enemy's position that
the enemy apparently hesitated to toss
grenades into that area. Also, because of the short range between the assault
squad and the North Koreans and because of the slope of the hill behind the
squad, most of the grenades passed over it, to fall behind and below in the
space between the two squads.
Nevertheless, concussion grenades wounded both radio operators and put their
radios out of commission. This happened early in the action Neither man was
seriously wounded. There were two other casualties, both in the support squad. A
grenade seriously wounded the assistant leader of the support squad (Corporal
Kirschbaum). Besides wounding him in both legs, the explosion blew off part of
his right foot. Grenade fragments also wounded the BAR man on the left flank
(PFC Emmett Hancock). Of these four men, all but Kirschbaum were able to
After thirty minutes of brisk firing, Lieutenant Chandler's men began to run
low on ammunition. The volume of fire dropped noticeably. At about the same
time, friendly artillery fire began falling on the enemy's main defensive line
several hundred yards from the patrol action.
At about 0245 Chandler decided to withdraw, but when he asked the radio
operators to send back the message that the patrol was breaking contact and
withdrawing, he discovered the casualties and the destruction of the radios. He
ordered the assault squad and the casualties to move through the support squad
and start back toward the rallying point at the foot of the hill in front of
friendly front lines. Several men improvised a litter in which to carry Corporal
Throughout the fire fight Chandler's men shouted and yelled. When they
started to withdraw, however, this noise and the noise of firing dwindled to
such an extent it was noticeable to men watching the action from Company C's
observation post on the main line of resistance. Although these observers had
just discovered they had no radio contact with the patrol, they could see the
fire fight moving toward them and realized the patrol had begun to withdraw.
They relayed this information to Colonel Walker.
The battalion commander immediately called for artillery and mortar
concentrations in the vicinity of Noname Ridge. As Chandler moved back, the
commander of Company C gave Colonel Walker the patrol's position, so far as he
could determine it by observing the small-arms fire from the patrol toward the
enemy. By the same method, he traced the location of the North Koreans as they
attempted to follow the patrol. From this information battalion headquarters
plotted both friendly and enemy positions on a map showing all artillery and
As the engagement moved toward the main line of resistance, Colonel Walker
moved the mortar and artillery concentrations along with it. He did not call for
new concentrations closer in, but rather shifted the original concentrations to
keep the impact area as close as possible to the patrol.
He telephoned his decisions to the forward observer, who relayed them to the
artillery and mortar units. Colonel Walker handled the supporting fires, giving
the corrections himself, because he did not wish to shift to his subordinate
officers the responsibility for directing the fire at night when they had no
communications with the patrol they were supporting.
Just before the patrol reached the rallying point at the foot of the hill,
Lieutenant Chandler sent Corporal Mitchell and Pvt. George Wilson on ahead to
bring back litters and bearers from Company C. On the slippery, snowy slope of
the ridge, it took the two men more than an hour to reach the main line. Once
there, they learned that Company C had already alerted a relief squad and had it
ready to return with them with the required items. As Mitchell and Wilson led
the squad down the ridge, an enemy mortar round landed in the group, wounding
four men of Company C. Mitchell and Wilson helped take these wounded men back
and waited for another squad. They finally rejoined the patrol at about
Meanwhile, after forming a defensive perimeter at the rallying point,
Chandler threw an illuminating grenade in the direction of the enemy as a guide
for the supporting mortars. Colonel Walker shifted the mortar fire closer to the
patrol and kept it well protected from North Koreans who were following with
considerable determination. Besides the artillery fire, several tanks dug in on
the main line fired cannon and heavy machine guns.
By this time it had become light enough for the enemy on Noname Ridge to see
the patrol perimeter. Lieutenant Chandler, using the radio the relief squad had
brought down from Company C, called for smoke on Noname Ridge, south of the
patrol. The bursting shells obscured the enemy's observation posts, and the
smoke, drifting down the draw with a light breeze, screened the patrol after the
smoke had cleared the hill.
In spite of this concealment, the enemy kept the patrol pinned down until
about 0630. After this the men continued on back to their base, moving
The patrol had been out more than twelve hours. Although it had no prisoner,
Chandler had most successfully raided the enemy's position. He had suffered ten
casualties all from grenade fragments during the night's action, but he and his
men believed they had killed at least as many North Koreans, and had wounded
The effective use of more than two thousand artillery rounds on known enemy
positions and on the enemy troops following the friendly patrol back toward its
base prevented further casualties. Patrol members gave full credit to the
artillery support for their successful return. On a small scale, infantry and
artillery had teamed up to make a successful operation.
Lieutenant Chandler displayed a knowledge of the psychology of leadership
when he repeated to his patrol the battalion's rule that no man who became a
casualty would be left. The certainty of help in the event of misfortune
strengthens a man's will. Thus, it is always best to assign both training and
combat missions to organized units rather than to groups of individuals. For the
same reason, replacements should be given a chance to become members of squads
before the squads are committed to action. Lieutenant Chandler used two squads
reinforced by members of his own platoon to form this patrol. He organized a
The preparation before the patrol's departure was excellent. Note should be
made of the time spent. Lieutenant Chandler had more than twenty-four hours to
plan and organize. He was unhurried and thorough. The only possible criticism of
the preparation phase might be directed at the communications plan. With wire
and radio available, Lieutenant Chandler also provided illuminating grenades.
When neither wire not radio communication was available, no use was made of the
signal flares. The reader wonders why they were not used. Perhaps they had been
assigned prearranged meanings that made them useless. Even the most detailed
planning sometimes leaves eventualities unforeseen and uncovered.
Some credit for the success of the patrol goes to the enemy. He must be
criticized for poor security measures and for not reacting to the alert provided
by the detonation of his own booby trap.
Perhaps, as noted in the concluding paragraph of the narrative, major credit
should be given to the supporting arms. Lieutenant Chandler's twenty-man patrol
became a powerful adversary when backed by intelligently controlled fire from
artillery, tanks and mortars.
1. The narrative of this action is based upon a study by Lt. Edgar Denton,
prepared in Korea.