This is me in Korea, in 1951
2nd Squad, F Co, 2nd Btn, 15th Reg, 3rd Div
Oct 1950 to July 1952
I am a Korean War Veteran. I helped farm and truck until October of 1950. Went into the service with about 8 or 9 from this area. I believe all of us went to Korea. The Korean War started June 25th, 1950. Left my home in Thayer County on October 1950. I went to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train for 17 weeks. They picked every 10th person to go overseas. They sent us home to go overseas. We trained under teh 45th Div of Houma National Guard. I went to Camp Stoneman in California. They didn't think we had good enough training so they sent us to Fort Ord, California for 7 weeks more training and back to Camp Stoneman. Got on a ship with 1800 other GI's.
It took 12 days to cross the Pacific Ocean to Camp Drake, Japan. Then got on a small Kaiser ship to Inchon, Korea. There we loaded on a bus that took us through Seoul, South Korea, NE, about 30 miles. There were quite a few tents set up. There were a lot of Mounds, only to find out it was a Korean grave yard. Koreans bury their people standing up.
I was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, 15th Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Fox Company. When I got to my Company I was assigned to my Platoon, and then the Squad. My Squad Leader put me with a Puerto Rican who just talked Spanish. This just did not work. My Squad Leader soon made a replacement for me. They always put two to a bunker or a foxhole.
I got to our Company in June of 1951, up on the front lines.
We did not have to worry about their air force as our Air Force pretty well took care of theirs. They had a Piper Cub that would fly over our line after it got dark that would drop hand grenades. But that stopped soon after I got there. Don't think they ever hit anyone, just harassment. They called him Bed Check Charlie.
We bombed out all their bridges but they still got supplies.
About the 5th day, our squad had to run a patrol in No Man’s Land. We got fired on but no one got hit. I received my Combat Infantry badge for coming under fire by the enemy.
They moved us to another location. Korea is very mountainous. We were on one side of the valley and the Chinese on the other. They had holes in the mountainside. About 4-5 tanks went ahead of our line and began firing directly in these holes. That afternoon the planes strafed and bombed their positions. The tanks left only to come back the next morning. One tank tried to cross a bridge and the bridge broke down and the tank landed on its side. All got out except one. He got his thumb caught on the breach block of the cannon. He couldn’t get loose. He took his 45 and shot off his thumb and got out just in time, as shells started going off inside the tank.
A few nights later, our squad had to go on an outpost. There was a short bench, only room for 5 so I and someone else had to be placed to guard the row. Sure enough, here they come trying to sneak upon us. We all crowded in the truck and threw about 20 or 25 hand grenades. They took off. We circled around to get back to our Company and I tripped a flare. Lit up the area about 10 minutes.
We got back to our lines again. The next night our Company sent a battle patrol and 2 from our squad to another valley across from where we were the night before. They got attacked and a heck of a fire fight. Eugene McDonell got hit in the chest with 9 burp gun slugs. He was lucky. He carried his small bible in his shirt. A round went clear through it and punctured the skin right over his heart. That small testament saved his life, although the Chinese left him for dead. The rest of the Patrol made it back except one South Korean that was with them. He was captured or gave himself up. They carried Eugene back on a litter.
On October 1st, 1951, our Company was given orders to take hill 460 477 487. We lost a small number of our troops on 460. We took it. There was a trench the Chinese had dug around this small hill. The Chinese dug another trench forward about 3 feet from the main trench every 2 or 3 feet. We didn’t know anyone was left on the hill til night fall. The Chinese dug back into the hillside. There were Chinese in the bunker. Every once in a while the Chinese would throw a grenade in the trench. We would just jump into the forward trench and the grenade would go off and no one got hurt. The grenades they had gave a pop and go off in 3 or 4 seconds. So we had time to move forward in these small trenches that went forward of the main trench.
Then we were given orders to take 477. It was their main line of resistance. G Company Commander said he would not be the lead Company. Captain Arthur, our Company Commander said Fox Company will do it. On October 3rd, the planes dropped about 20 bombs right on their position. We got lined up below the hill and Captain Arthur made the command when a flare was shot in the air that we would all attack bayonets fixed.
We started making the assault and Captain Arthur was looking to the right and did not see the Chinese jump out of the fox hole and throw a large concussion grenade. It went off right on the left side of his face. His cheek was hanging on his shoulder. Blew out all his teeth on the left side and tore his tongue loose. I was only about 20 feet from him when this happened. He did live through it. They did not give him much chance to live. He got the Distinguished Service Cross. We went forward and our Squad took 4 prisoners, 2-82 Mortar and a lot of ammunition and small arms.
That night we used the Chinese trenches. Eugene Montforton from E Company had to take position on the point of the hill. We knew they would counter-attack. He manned a machine gun. Sure enough, soon as it got dark, here they came. Eugene held them off until his machine gun jammed. They got a grenade in his bunker and he really got hurt bad. But he got his machine gun going again and kept them from coming down the ridge line. But by morning he was gone. Eugene also received Posthumous Distinguished Service Cross.
The Chinese went up to 487. A&B Company was going to make an assault only to find out they moved out through the night. I was beside 2 of our men in 18 hours that received the Distinguished Service Cross.
On November 25th, Thanksgiving Day, we were on hill 260. Everything was going fine. That morning we were in reserve position behind 355. 355 was getting a few rounds coming in but this happened every once in a while. The shelling picked up. The 7th Regiment had control of 355. Well they got overrun by about a regiment of Chinese. We were just getting ready to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. Our Squad Leader said our squad was to make a sweep around the rear and see if any Chinese had broken through. When we got back, the chow truck was just going to leave. We got a little food that was left. I didn’t have much of an appetite knowing we were getting ready to try to take back 355. 355 is also called Little Gibraltar. It was the highest peak in the area. You could see miles around it. Then we followed the rest of our Company. It took all night to go about a mile or mile and a half. Finally we got to the base at 355 and started up. Never in my life did I see so much artillery and mortar fire. A round lit righ tin front of Sgt. Brondage from Minnesota. Lost his life right there. I was about 20 feet in back of him. We kept going forward. Man, it was a steep, 60 degree climb. The Chinese thought we would go around and really caught them off guard.
There was a knoll about 60 to 70 yards in front of 355. Our squad was picked to take this knoll. Seven men out of our squad of 10 made it. A sniper got the last two. I thought I would see what was out in front, a sniper hit the rock right next to my face. God, I was lucky. The guy that was beside me said he wanted to see and got hit right in the forehead. Now we lost 4 from that sniper. About 1 or 2 o’clock pm, the shelling let up. They told us to try to get back to the hill to help E Company. We put the injured GI in a sleeping bag and carried him back to the rear slope. He was still alive. We went back down the reverse side of 355 and got to the knoll with all kinds of bunkers around it. The shelling started up again. I and three other GIs crawled in a bunker and got a direct hit on it, nearly covering us up. Here came orders to get back up 355 again. They needed help.
Our squad lined up and a round came in and killed my Squad Leader. The next man, Sgt Bennet from Independence, Kansas, was next. He had 23 pieces of shrapnel in his neck and back. I only got one which is to this day next to my spine in my back. I ended up in Pusan evacuation hospital. They just sewed up the incision and in 15 or more days, back out on the front line.
When I got back, my Company was along the Imjin river. From there we moved back to the right of 355. This is where I spent the last 2 months I was in Korea. When my Platoon Sgt came and told me it was time to rotate home if I could catch Chow truck. This was in March, 1952.
I was so glad to go home. No more outposts, no more listening posts, no night patrols in No Man’s Land, no more clothes frozen to the ground on th outposts on those cold winter nights. Sometimes 20 degrees below! I came back through Seattle, Washington to Camp Carson, Colorado. It was on my birthday, April 5th, 1952. Never had a better birthday present in my life. I was told sometime later our Platoon got pretty well wiped out. Not many survivors on hill 477-487. We only had 88 left in our Company. On hill 355, only had 66 left. In a 3 year war, 33,000 US Soldiers were killed. 103,000 injured.
Mike Lester from E Company and his Squad took over the knoll I almost got hit on. That night the Chinese came around the knoll and he and his squad got captured. The Chinese were taking them back to their lines. This is when Mike and his squad turned on the Chinese and killed them and they came back to the U.N. lines again.
Ed Slater from Kansas City was captured along with 380 troops about 30 days before the war was declared by the U.N. The United States had 2 divisions there when it started. Ed Slater said they were forced to march about 400 miles. If you could not keep u they would shoot you. If you had small feet, they would take your shoes from you. One man had been shot in the leg. They threw him down and sawed his leg off.
One day a plane flew over. It was a US plane. They made them all lay down on their backs, over them, the bombers doors opened. Ed Slater said we knew this was the end. Instead they dropped food and candy boxes! If any of our troops tried to get something, they got shot. The Chinese only gave them one ball of rice a day, the size of a tennis ball.
They did have train and train tracks around South Korea. They ended up near a railroad track. There was a locomotive and something like cattle cars. They put all the prisoners in these cattle cars and headed North. After going North some distance, they were told to get out. They livned them all up and shot the prisoners. Ed dropped like he had been shot. Later they noticed he was still alive and bayoneted him through the head. He passed out. Later he came to only to find the Chinese had left. He was so weak but he managed to get up. Someone in the back row was lying under some other troops. He wanted help. Ed said he was too weak to help him. He would try to see if he could get help. Ed walked a short distance and got to a path. He was stumbling along when all of a sudden a Korean boy was on the path. He asked if he could help. The boy took him down the path and there was a small house. Ed asked him how he could speak English so good. He said he had been helping our soldiers for a long time and did learn some of the language. The Korean boy told him to wait and in about 10 – 15 minutes, the door opened. Ed thought “this is the end of me!” Here it was a US Sgt! Ed told him about the soldier that was lying under the prisoners that were shot. They were the only two survivors out of the 380 prisoners!
I met Ed Slater in Springfield, Missouri at SW Missouri State University about 3 years ago. I, and about 5 others from F Company were on a panel in Dr. Julia Johnson’s History class. Answered questions about the Korean War for about an hour and a half.
I was on the front line during the Korean War from June 1951 to March 1952. In fact, October 3, 1951, I was next to my Company Commander about 9am and beside him when we went and attacked Hill 477-487. Captain Arthur was by my left side about 30 feet from me when a Chinese threw a grenade and hit him in the left side of his face. Blew out his cheek and all the teeth on that side of his face. They took him out by helicopter.
We took 477 and set up a perimeter. That night they counterattacked. Eugene Montforton was on the point of 477 with his machine gun. I knew Eugene very well. I went through basic training with him. He held the Chinese off till they got a grenade in his bunker. He was wounded very bad but he got his machine gun going again and held them off. By morning he was dead. I was probably 150 feet to his right that night.
I was behind Captain Arthur, our company Commander, and Eugene Montforton from Montana, who both received the Distinguished Service Cross in 18 hours. Nearly unbelieveable.
I used to go to the 6th grade class at the local school each year to talk about my War experience, what it was like to be on the front lines, and showed them a video called "We Called it War". This video has been shown on PBS many times. Eugene Monforton's brother was watching this video in Bozeman, Montana, and saw that his brother was in the film. He had not known that before he started watching it. Before he watched it, he had not known what happened to his brother.
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