Dear Pappa, I hope all of my own and the government’s communications arrived in the least jarring
sequence. They probably did not, so I apologize again if news of the events out here caused too much
upset. Since the last two weeks have been pretty crowded, I think the best way to try to describe them is
day by day, since we seemed to do something special and different each day.
Moved out at dawn via trucks to the assembly area. The road distance was 40 to 50 miles to the northeast.
As I believe I said in my previous letter, it was to the sector north of Inje, just north of the "Punch
Bowl", an oval shaped piece of low ground about three miles in diameter.
September 11 and 12
We began receiving our ammo in mid-afternoon. At 6:00 p.m. we moved out of the assembly area, following G
and I companies. We followed the road for a distance, and turned north again. But the blasted river
crossed our route again and we had to walk up the middle of the stream for about 200 yards. The Korean
rivers in September grow chilly at nightfall, I might add.
By now the moon was up and there were enough scattered clouds for the engineers to supplement it with
"artificial moonlight"—searchlight beams reflected forward off the clouds. With both the natural and
artificial types on our side, visibility was good—good enough to make out the white tapes marking our
route which lay through an extensive mine field. By about 10:00 p.m., the first stretchers and walking
wounded began passing us going the other way. As each stretcher passed, we looked to see if the patient’s
face was covered or not. The first four or five passed before one went through covered from head to foot
with a riddled poncho.
The column was moving very slowly by now with frequent halts. We were fully loaded with food and ammo
all of which makes a pack very, very heavy, especially at midnight. We found later that we were moving
into positions held by the Seventh Marines, and as we passed through one of their mortar positions, we
were somewhat shaken to see scores of covered up figures lying on the ground. As we looked closely, we
could see movement or breathing or one would toss and roll in his sleep. Quite a relief. By the time we
made the valley on the other side, dawn was beginning to break and we were nearing our assigned position.
As we moved closer, 76 millimeter shells began screaming in. These were hitting the ridge beyond us as
we crossed the last ridge between us and our position. We went down into another valley, forded another
stream and were at the base of the ridge I show as H Co., 1st Ridge on my attempted map.
It was now full daylight at 6:00 a.m. We had been on the march for just 12 hours—all night—and had
covered only about seven miles.
After a rest we moved up onto the ridge to replace the survivors of H Company Seventh Marines who had
taken the ridge. They brought out about 10 dead as we moved up. The living were gaunt, dirty and staring
as they went down. One was singing a crazily inappropriate song as he moved along, lurching from one side
of the trail to the other. Eighty men out of 240 walked off that hill which had not been held physically
very strongly by the gooks. Mortars and 76s had done the work.
The top of the ridge was heavily bunkered for living quarters—which we took over. There were a number
of Russian burp guns, piles of ammo for them and two heavy Maxim machine guns with their wheeled mounts
and protective armor shields, plus a number of rifles and a .50 caliber antitank shoulder rifle—about 15
We began reoccupying the positions as our artillery companies jumped off at 1:00 p.m. for 1052 using
the ridge line routes I have indicated on the map which converged on the objective. My platoon selected
positions held successively by the gooks and the Seventh Marines and prepared for the night’s activity. My
platoon sergeant selected a smallish bunker for the two of us. To "lie down" in same, we had to recline
almost doubled up with our feet up in the air almost sticking out of the entrance.
Along about evening meal time, true to form, the gooks tossed in a few 82 millimeter mortar rounds, one
of which burst about 25 yards from me nicking my machine gun section leader. Subsequent rounds hit one of
my squad leaders and a rifleman. About this time I began to realize the superficiality of fully 80% of all
"casualties." They are lightly hit by small splinters, but, of course, rate full medical attention. In
fact, speaking from my own experience, to deny it to them would be criminal because once you are hit, all
you can think about is getting the metal removed or taken care of in some way.
As night fell, we could hear light firing before midnight in addition to our artillery support, but
much heavier firing after midnight. The gooks held off their counterattacks until the stroke of midnight.
Then, preceded by the usual bugle call, they stormed down the ridge of I Company’s little perimeter. This
attack and the four successive attacks all executed exactly on the hour, were beaten back with light
losses to the Marines.
Early in the afternoon, my platoon was ordered out to set up an outpost on the ridge in g Company’s rear
so the gooks couldn’t run behind them. I consulted my map and moved out. After a short hike, I arrived at
a place where the ground forms looked exactly like the features shown on the map. My orders were to put
part of my force on top of the ridge, the rest on the trail at the base. I moved ahead of the platoon and
up a trail leading up to the top of the ridge. About 50 yards up, I spotted a Russian trip wire stick type
booby trap set in the middle of the trail. These gadgets resemble a potato masher grenade, with a stake to
fix them in the ground and a cast iron serrated body containing the bursting charge. Kick the trip wire
and off she goes, spraying splinters.
It appeared that the usual approaches—i.e., the little ridges running up the slope—were mined, so my
next guess was to try to draw where the run off and resultant rolling rocks should have cleared out the
mines. By this time, I had four riflemen with me and we began working up a draw. Not many feet further on,
the second man behind me, walking right in my footsteps, kicked off one of the mines, getting a piece in
the back himself, while the man in front was hit lightly in the leg
Mines like this are very mean when one lets go because the men think they are under mortar fire and
throw themselves on the ground anywhere, and are apt to set off other mines. It developed that only the
base of the ridge had been mined so that we were able to install the prescribed outpost on top and settle
ourselves at the base of the ridge for the evening as ordered. In the middle of the night, an infiltrator
sneaked in and nicked tow of the boys in the leg with a rifle.
We evacuated our night’s casualties and went to work improving our holes. Then the battalion 91 millimeter
platoon moved up and informed us that we were in the wrong place—forcing us to move on up the valley to
the position I show as the 2nd OP on the map.
During the night, another infiltrator nicked a man with a grenade. The machine gun section picked up
five prisoners in the valley to the right of the spot where I show the mortar position.
September 15 and 16
About noon, the battalion was pulled back into a reserve assembly area for a stay, we were told, from one
to 30 days, but 45 minutes later we were on our way up to the ridge I designated 2nd ridge H Co.
Before pulling out, we had a giddy sort of reunion with G and I companies. We found ourselves mutually
tickled almost to tears on meeting old friends, whether officers or enlisted men. We exchanged jokes and
close calls and laughed at everything that had happened, then off H Company went again.
The second ridge had been complete devastated—blasted and seared and shredded—by the Seventh Marines’
assault. My hardheaded platoon sergeant found us a bunker that was out of this world. Another
eight-feet-under job, dry, clean, with mats thoughtfully left behind by our enemies.
The new problem – my company’s baby—was to secure the middle portion of Ridge 847 which had been taken by
the ROKs, who had in turn lost the middle lower portion to a counterattack. We were to be able to approach
and jump from the peak of the ridge and run our attack downhill—something new. We moved out early, marched
slowly all day, getting the whole company on top of 847 at about 4 p.m. we expected to be able to rest,
reorganize and prepare ourselves for assault the assault the next morning—but no. Someone got gung-ho and
decided to jump us off as soon as possible, assuming an under strength company could make a mile and a
half advance in one hour of daylight!
As we organized for the assault, my platoon was assigned a follow-up mission behind the leading
platoon. The route of attack starting from the peak of 847 is shown on my map No. 2. It was to start at A,
run down a smaller ridge around point B, turn south and cut east through a saddle at D, run downhill and
curve south again to link up with I Company attacking north. Keep in mind that all these ground forms were
on top of an 800 meter ridge. My third squad had been neatly removed from my command and sent on some
ridiculous security detail so I was way under 2/3 strength, close to half as a matter of fact, before the
shooting started. Dandy!
At possibly 5:30 p.m. we got the word to assault, and the troops jumped over the ridge and started down
the other side.
You would have been very proud, as I was at the moment, to be a member of the same organization as
those guys. Bayonets fixed, with a storm of fire from their rifles, machine guns and auto rifles, they
rushed down the side of the ridge, whooping and shouting defiance and encouragement as the few gooks in
the nearest bunker area to the front opened with rifles, auto rifles and burp guns. A squad leader of the
leading squad was hit in the head and knocked out. The second platoon corpsman rushed to his aid, stepped
on a ROK land mine and was blown up. Both died soon. The Korean stretcher bearers supposed to follow up
and evacuate such cases jumped into holes shivering and refused to function. They were routed out into
action at bayonet point.
The 2nd Platoon’s first rush carried about 125 yards from the jump-off point at A down behind the scant
cover of the little ridge line to b and got up as far as the big bunker on top of the hill at C where they
received a shower of hand grenades, which drove them back to the nose at B leaving several wounded behind.
While this was going on, the gooks trotted out one of their 76 millimeter guns onto a ridge about two
miles to the west to a position where they had a clear direct shot at the attacking formation and at all
activity and observers on top of the main ridge. When they opened up, they put rounds within 25 yards of
where I was behind the 2nd Platoon, but as luck had it, the attackers suffered no losses from it—amazing
because we were completely exposed but possibly hidden by the few trees on the hillside. They went to work
instead on the people they could see near the top of the ridge. One shot killed the company commander.
After another shot, an empty helmet went bounding down the hill—a direct ht on one of my second squad
people who was moving down the slope to join the rest of the platoon. Two of his buddies formed a
stretcher party to get him out—both were hit by another round. Still another broke my platoon guide’s leg.
They kept banging them in while our artillery dawdled. Minutes after their firing stopped, an artillery
concentration fell on the spot where the gun had been—and I’m sure had left.
In the midst of all the commotion, someone ran close past me, connecting with a bullet in the arm as he
did so and spraying me with his blood. All of a sudden I began receiving as yet unnecessary medical
attention until I convinced all concerned—and myself—that it wasn’t needed.
By now, the sun was down, and we decided to dig in on our little salient and renew the attack in the
I have forgotten an episode which almost crowned our initial set-back with complete disaster. Minutes
after we had recoiled to the positions where we spent the night and were trying to collect our wits, a
Marine Corsair, which had been circling over the action, came in on a low pass from west to east. We
thought it was to take a closer look, but as he came boring in we could see a napalm bottle still slung
under his belly. We held our breaths in disbelief, but sure enough, he let it go at us, but it fell short
by about 100 yards bursting with amazing flame and heat, leaving everyone limp with fear.
Things were calm during the morning with only sniping going on. The plan developed that we would try
another assault about noon, and we supplied and prepared ourselves for same. I wasn’t too optimistic about
the success of the move, but move we must.
Let me insert another overdue clarifying detail here. Note that the direction of the company attack was
south, where the overall direction of advance was, of course, straight north. Also, our artillery had to
fire straight north—directly at us—for support. Our 81-mm mortars were east firing over the ridge.
I was able to collect my third squad finally, allowing me to marshal about 30 men out of my original 60
some. We all got more ammo, loaded ourselves with grenades to knock out bunkers, and ate what food we
could lay hands on. We had completely outrun our food supply and were receiving only limited amounts of
ammo. The weather was good, clear and bright and cool—football weather at its best—also fine for our air
strike which began about noon.
The F-51s made their runs from east to west in long flat passes, firing machine guns and rockets into
the hillside. What made us jump for or joy and what insured the success of the first part of our attack
were two superb napalm hits. The first was on the east slope of the little hill marked D under which we
were to pass. One of the air boys, bless him, bored into about 50 and drenched it with two cans of napalm
obviously completely neutralizing it. Seconds later, another came in from southeast to northwest plunking
a can on the hilltop at C, which stopped us the day before, smearing napalm all the way down the nose and
instantly neutralizing it for our passage. Note that this bit was a bare 75 yards to our front—close
support with a vengeance and none too soon. They made a number of additional rocket and machine gun
passes, then departed and the artillery opened.
This was accomplished with 155-mms and they did a terrific job. They "walked" the bursts—tree, ground
and delay—back and forth over the area around D. Keep in mind they were firing almost directly at us from
the south—no long rounds please! The target area became completely obscured by smoke and dust. Splinters
began falling in our position. A dud ricocheted over our position with an amazing moaning noise, a as you
can image. When the artillery shifted its fire further out on the ridge, we jumped off—1st Platoon first
since it hadn’t been in the assault the day before, followed by my 3rd Platoon.
Again the war whoops, yells and shouts, and the storm of fire. We moved up to the napalmed ridge
without opposition, grenading all the bunkers we passed. On the napalm ridge, the 1st Platoon set up a
firing line raking the bunker village in front of them. I moved up and peeked over and could see no return
fire. They were completely pinned down—if anyone was home at all.
Firing continued enthusiastically and resistance was very slight. The machine gunners were firing
merrily at the heels of the leading riflemen, chewing up great spouts of clay, apparently to make sure
they kept moving. Hearing the grenades and the firing, gooks began popping out of bunkers waving surrender
pamphlets over their heads.
I found myself a convenient, I thought, shell hole on top of the ridge form which I could survey the
situation while waiting for the assault platoon leader to decide what he was going to do. He moved one
squad about 50 yards down the slope and promptly lost a man to a certain sniper. He again began calling
for an air strike. While I waited for him to finish negotiating, a bullet cracked into the dirt about 10
feet in front of me causing me to pop back in my hole. He then called for a white phosphorus grenade to
mark out the flank and in a position to toss one somewhere besides down the neck of the people out in
front of us, I ran out, did same and got back in my hole and watched the white smoke billow up. As I faced
out to the objective toward the sun, a flash of sun on copper sparked for a split second about 15 feet in
front of me—and I was had. I’m sure I saw the bullet that hit me.
The boys all pounced on me, looted me of my maps and ammunition in very methodical fashion, and
heedless of further sniper fire, carried me off on a stretcher. I didn’t feel too badly, managing to save
my .45 only with some effort. My platoon sergeant came, noted the disgusting turn of events, and took over
The Doc at the helicopter strip at the foot of the hill pulled a pair of forceps out of his breast
pocket and neatly removed the offending metal as I stood there. I lay down in the sun and took a nap in
lieu of a night’s sleep. After about an hour, three more of my boys—all nicked by the same sniper—came
down to the strip, grinning sheepishly as I guess I was, and poking fun at each other for being so
incompetent as to get hit.
A small, two-basket ‘copter came in, and I was packed into one of the outriggers; the guy who had been
lightly hit on our first ridge and who had not been evacuated, was put in the other. This time he had
stepped on a land mine shortly after I had been removed and it had blown off his left foot.
The flight to the division forward medical company was easy but chilly. My wound was cleaned, bandaged
and I went out to police up some food. All I could find were some apples which put me to sleep and had a
The docs and Navy corpsmen are a hard-working and competently nonchalant crew. They do a fine job. That
forward medical company layout and experience will not soon be forgotten. The seriously wounded, strong
young men out of their heads with fear and pain…
The ambulance ride down here was easy. I rode in the front with the driver. As soon as I was admitted
here, the doctors took me under their wing had I moved into their quarters with them. I should be here too
much longer. This is my fourth day. I think. Rumor has it the boys are digging in up on the hill. I have
tried to keep melodrama out and the facts in throughout. You asked for color—if most of it happened to be
hemoglobin red, it wasn’t because I wanted it that way.
Much love to all.
Please excuse the delay in writing. It was not caused by anything more serious than natural laziness
and inconvenience. I regained the 3rd Battalion on October 1. I discovered that H Company had been
assigned a sector on the battalion left which extends down to the base of the hill and into a valley. My
platoon sergeant had taken over the platoon after I was hit and carried it right on through to the
conclusion of the assault and then set it up in a very good defensive position. He did a fine job then-in
fact from the time I took over the platoon—and I have recommended him for a meritorious promotion to the
next higher grade although he has only been a sergeant for about five months. I also discovered that one
of the squad leaders—the Indian boy named Yellowhead—conducted a wild one-man banzai charge during the
assault, killing a number of gooks and collecting four or five prisoners. For this, he was recommended for
the Silver Star Medal by the other platoon leader present. After getting back to the company, I found a
new C.O. The former exec had been sent to Regt. Having served four months on line and also the 2nd
lieutenant in charge of the 2nd platoon, having been given a job at battalion. The 60 mm mortar officer,
too, was rotated rear-ward to the 4.2 mortars leaving three vacancies. Then the 1st platoon commander was
given an emergency leave home.
I ended up with the 60 mm mortar section in the company. The other day we caught four gooks cooking
rice outside their bunker. I won’t say that we splashed it right into their bowl, but all four were in a
state of collapse when we ceased firing.
To go back to when I first got back to the line, the minute I arrived I could tell that morale was
fair. From a quarter of a mile back, I could hear whooping, laughing, cursing, trees being felled, holes
being dug, trails being hacked out, word of one kind or another being passed up and down the line from
bunker to bunker with yells the gooks across the way could surely hear and probably understood. The boys
all had unnecessarily big grins for me when I trooped the platoon line to see how they were set in. Light
wounds remain a big joke and excellent luck, it seems, especially for rank of any kind.
That night was the last of the very active nights as far as infiltrators were concerned. The whole
company line is inter-connected with telephones so that the nightly frights and jitters can be
communicated from one end of the line to the other with maximum speed. As soon as darkness settles there
is a wait of about a half an hour before the first man gets rattled and heaves the first grenade. Then
someone else hears the bushes shake and heaves two or three, then he gets to a phone and wants a flare so
he can see the charging hordes. If a parachute flare is shot over his head, the hard white light of the
burning magnesium coming from the falling and drifting parachute throws jet back shadows through the trees
which move, creep and jump from side to side just like a gook. The only satisfaction they give is that
they fail to reveal the imagined charging phalanx. One night on the platoon phone watch went something
like this when my platoon sergeant was on the phone.
(Crash of a grenade)
PLT. Sgt.: Did you get him? You better have!
PHONE: Yea – heard his pants rip on the wire!
PLT. SGT.: Never mind pantsing him. Did you kill him?
(Wild confusion on the other end of the line followed by another grenade crash.)
PLT. SGT.: Okay! 60 mm fire coming up.
(A delay of five or 10 minutes while the mortar crew is woken up, gotten to the gun and the rounds
pooped out. They crash into the hillside close in to our lines.)
PLT. SGT.: How does that look to you?
PHONE: Fine! Fine! Only now it sounds—sounds like somebody chokin’ a pheasant!!
PLT. SGT.: Choking a pheasant! How do you know—go back to sleep!
PHONE: OK, OK. Thanks for the mortar fire.
(Half an hour passes)
PHONE: Platoon CP!! Platoon CP! Cee Pee!!
PLT. SGT.: Yea?
PHONE: They’re blowin’ a bugle!!
PLT. SGT.: Oh? – Well – What are they playing?
PHONE: I dunno – I can’t make it out. I tell you they’re blowin’ bugles!!
PLT. SGT.: Who’s blowing bugles?
PHONE: The GOOKS!!
PLT. SGT.: Well – can’t you tell what tune they’re playing? Listen close and see if it’s on the hit
PHONE (squawks and rattling noises then very calmly): I don’t know what they’re playing. All I know is
they’re blowin’ a bugle.
PLT. SGT.: Roger. OK. But if you hear a piano and violin accompaniment, let us know and we’ll come and
help you get back to the rear.
PHONE: Yes, Sgt. (Followed by sputtering noises.)
Later on, one of the boys heard noises in front of him and screamed for a parachute flare. When he got
it, he could see the squirrels which made the noise.
In another hole, having heard a noise, a rifleman prepared to toss a grenade and roused his buddy in
doing so. As he wound up to make the throw the buddy sat up and the grenadier smacked the grenade into the
buddy’s teeth, knocking him cold. This threw his aim off and the grenade flew out, hit a tree, bounced
back and exploded just a few feet from the bunker. The grenadier thought that a gook had tossed it back to
him, so he threw another half dozen grenades in all directions to defend himself. When his panic subsided,
he realized what had happened and helped his buddy look for his teeth in the dark.
Yesterday, October 15, the 7th Marines on our left, under orders from X Corps, had to run a combat
patrol (pronounced "Probing Attack" by the press, I believe) onto the ridge to our front. They trundled up
14 tanks, ran an air strike, and fired artillery and mortars (mine included) in battery and battalion
salvos all morning and early afternoon. In mid-afternoon they were moved through our lines and minefield
and on out into the wide open valley.
From my own CP, I had a 50-yard-seat of the whole show—just like a football game only the other team
not only fought our team, but they shot at the spectators as well. The infantry was preceded by the tanks
which drew fire from a 76mm up on a high ridge about 3 miles to the front. The long rounds from the 76 mm
landed all around my bunker because the tanks thoughtfully parked right to my front. The first round hit
three men in the 3rd Platoon to my right. Another, a dud, missed the new company commander by about 4
feet. Another cut my telephone line to the mortars in effect putting them out of the fight because I
couldn’t shift their fire as the infantry advanced. So we watched. The tanks took up positions out in the
open and began to whack away with their 90 mm at point blank range (about 600 yards) at the little ridge.
The 76 gun put round after round within yards of them. But they nonchalantly stood their ground firing 90s
and machine guns whenever the infantry radioed for it.
I finally spotted the 76 by its peculiar muzzle blast. It took about 17 seconds for the rounds to hit
after being fired—17 seconds to ponder a misspent life and swear never to drink more than 3 Martinis at a
sitting again as long as-I-live-crash—shooting at the tanks that time. Serves them right for moving out in
front of us—crash. Speaking of Martinis—and so on until the infantry broke cover to run across the valley
to go up the ridge. No sooner had they begun their dash when a gook 82mm mortar splashed a fountain of
dust and smoke right at the feet of one of them. A Navy Corpsman who must have nerves of steel and ice
water for blood, whoever he is, rushed to the fallen Marine, in full view of the enemy, in an obviously
"zeroed-in" spot, opened his pack, pulled out his bandages and went to work. In a few minutes a South
Korean stretcher team was coaxed out to pick him up and carry him back.
Another 82 went to work on our lines, joining the 76. They kept firing and we kept firing, both close
support and counter battery on the ridges and ravines of the big hill, 951, to the front.
The attack patrol regrouped under the little ridge to the front and moved up onto it as rapidly as
their equipment would permit. They climbed to a level just under the sky line on our side and moved
quickly toward the known bunkers. The tanks by now were blazing away and were joined by a 75 mm recoilless
higher up on our ridge. A gook popped out of one of the bunkers to see how close the attackers were moving
and the 75 mm slammed one right into him. Another trotted up from somewhere underground and took his
place. When the patrol got to within about 75 yards of the bunker position, he fired a shot with his rifle
and the patrol took cover. Round after round of 90 mm and 75 burst on and near the position and the ridge
from the bunker on up to the right was raked back and forth by tank and infantry machine gun fire, plus 75
recoilless. But every time the patrol tried to move, the little gook, clearly visible in his new green
quilted winter uniform, would pop up, fire a few rounds and duck back underground before a fresh storm of
TNB and steel broke over his head. One gook with a bolt action rifle stopped the platoon cold in its
For some reason, the gooks didn’t drop mortars on the patrol while it was on the ridge. All the fire
seemed to fall on the spot where its route crossed our lines. As the sun went down, the patrol was ordered
to pull back under cover of a heavy white phosphorus smoke screen. Then all the gook fire shifted to our
lines and rear. They dropped a few within 50 feet of the 60 mm section area, but no one in the section was
hurt. Aside form that, today was a beautiful, quiet Indian Summer day.
The surrender propaganda leaflets in another envelope are dropped impartially from airplanes—half to
the gooks—half for us. They seem to work, as the company picks up one or two deserters a day. One of my
agents conned the red bills off one of the deserters who said he had been told that the Russian Army was
coming through here any day now. We also use a loudspeaker set up on a hillside to broadcast propaganda.
It pulled 28 deserters in 2 nights. So much for the war news.
Thanks again for your fine services, and thanks to Carrie for her "get well" note. The wound cases no
inconvenience and is closing nicely. I’ve been on patrol (no shooting) and am doing everything else I am
supposed to do and it causes no trouble whatever. My rugby knee injury will cause me much more grief in
the future than the wound ever will.
Will write again much sooner.