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Cold in Korea - Chris Sarno Memoir

The crew of Tank 41 was in combat on both the eastern and western front, but they stayed on the east coast of Korea for several months. During the late autumn, the 1st Marine Division put five Dog Company tanks on five mountain tops facing North Korea. "They provided direct fire right into the goonyland on the trench line," Sarno said. Two or three of the tanks supported Korean Marine Corps regiments. The other two tanks supported U.S. Marine operations. While Dog Company Marines endured the miserable conditions on top of the mountains, Marines in other tank companies were waiting in Reserve, including those in Able Company. Sarno’s company was in Reserve at Wontog-ni from November to the 15th of December 1951. They set up camp adjacent to the Soyang-gang River, which was down to a trickle. The river’s big boulders were visible in the riverbed.

On November 10, as all Marines are wont to do no matter where they are, the members of Able Company marked the anniversary of the Marine Corps’ birth with a traditional birthday cake. It was an especially significant day for Chris Sarno, because he had just received a battlefield promotion to corporal. "I was happy as a pig," Sarno said. "I had some combat time under my belt, and as the youngest Marine in the company, I had the first cut of sweet cake from Top/Sergeant O’Neil, who was the oldest Marine in the company. I got to slice the cake with Captain Snell’s K-bar. After the ceremony ended, O’Neil got me to join the 1st Marine Division Association as a life member for the $25 of script that was in my pocket." Sarno never had any regrets for having spent his last dollars on that life membership that day. The date of November 10, 1951 was, indeed, a good day for USMC Corporal Chris Sarno. "I was still wet behind the ears," Sarno recalled, "but I was one happy, unmarried gyrene who was cocky and brash but, conversely, hardly knew anything about the mystery of life. The older NCOs read me like a book. I was still blinded by an 18-year-old’s immaturity. I was a combat veteran, and to me, my world looked like a bowl of cherries."


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