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Holiday Greetings from China - Chris Sarno Memoir

The United States Marines atop hill #1026 continued to coexist within a few yards of the Korean Marines throughout the rest of that winter. They "coexisted" with the Chinese enemy located in that vicinity as well. "The Chinese started serenading us in the daylight hours from across the chasm," Sarno said. They played Christmas carols over tinny loudspeakers. Along with the music, however, they announced continual warnings to the Marines. "The gooks promised that we would all die like good Marines on Christmas Eve," Sarno said. "They guaranteed it." As a result, the Marines were ordered to stand 100% watch. "Sure enough," Sarno said, "They came in hordes as the still night scene exploded with the staccato and authentic sound of gook burp guns and grenades. It was all-out carnage and bedlam in the heat of mortal combat for over an hour in a murderous and bloody firefight on that fateful Christmas Eve. However, the Chinese failed to accomplish their mission. We and the KMCs repulsed another nerve-racking attack. They tried and they died. We didn’t even bother to cross the concertina and apron wires to check on the dead Chinese who lay crucified and frozen in grotesque positions out there. No quarter was ever given. For the remainder of Christmas Day 1951, we crouched in our constrictive and rat-infested bunker. In addition, we looked up pensively toward heaven, counting the seemingly endless crunch of gook 122mm mortars plastering our crest and forward slopes. We were perpetually grateful for our Marine close air support this day that kept the enemy at bay out of fear with napalm and strafing sorties."

Sarno said that the Marines holed up in the mountaintop bunker celebrated Christmas Day with a secular holiday tune. "We had a relic of a Jap windup Victorola," he said, "and it was able to play a scratchy 78rpm recording of Jingle Bells. We were cruddy with baked-on sweat and we listened endlessly to the melody, while wolfing down cold rations. We thought of home, which seemed like a million miles away." If they were lucky, the crew of Tank D-31 would be home for Christmas—next year.


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