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Ammo Rationing - Chris Sarno Memoir

In June of 1952, Able Company came out of Reserve and took its turn on the line conducting constant direct fire missions. It was a hot, humid month as it was building up to the monsoon season. Able Company tankers saw battle action daily, and Chris Sarno said that the Marines thrilled on the killing. "When I look back upon the Western Front activity," Sarno said, "I wonder how we stood up physically and mentally."

Unexpected things happened at the most unexpected times, and they could rattle the sturdiest of Marines. One sunny day, for instance, the crew of A-41 went on a direct fire mission. Sarno was driving the tank while the men in the gun turret were firing away with the 90mm at Hill #229, which Sarno said was, "the tallest mountain in Gooney Land." A Korean Marine Corps tank platoon was moving behind them. Sarno said that he was just getting ready to settle down in the driverís compartment for a little sack time when an unexpected visitor arrived at the tank. "The next thing I saw was a pair of hands on my slope plate, and up popped the grinning face of a retarded gook," he said. "I immediately started grabbing for my .45." The Korean quickly identified himself, "No shootee. No shootee. KMC. KMC." Sarno was the brunt of a lot of laughter from his buddies because of his panic. The unexpected visitor was followed by a KMC Sherman tank driver who wanted to see what the interior of an M-46 tank looked like. "His eyes popped out like two big aggies at the difference between our tank and his," Sarno said. "Through pidgin gook talk," he said, "we traded information on the differences between the two tanks."

Earlier that same month, just about a week before the Fourth of July in 1952, a directive had come down from the 8th Army command post that the tankers were not supposed to fire more than nine rounds of 90 mm ammunition due to limited supplies. "Thatís all they told us," Sarno recalled. "Thank god we never got into any serious trouble when we did go up on the line. But then the Fourth of July came, and they said everybody had to fire the whole load except for the anti-tank rounds we had. All of the sudden we could fire 70 rounds, yet for a week we couldnít fire nine. What the hell kind of war was that? Thatís when I thought the Korean War was a war for big business."


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