Morning Calm Broken:
Letters from a forgotten front line
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by Robert C. Janes
The following excerpts are from letters written by me while serving on the front line during the Korean
War. I was a 20-year old Private First Class with the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The
letters were written to my wife and father-in-law while I was serving with the 5th Marine Regiment, First
Marine Division, April 5, 1951-April 10, 1952, at which time I was rotated home and honorably discharged
from active duty as a Sergeant.
I served with Easy (E) Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, April 5, 1951 through July 17, 1951. Some of
the heaviest fighting of the Korean War took place during this period of the two phases of the Chinese
Spring Offensive and the United Nations Counter-offensive. My unit was the 3rd Light .30 caliber machine gun
section (two machine gun squads totaling 17 men at full strength), supporting the 3rd rifle platoon of Easy
Company. The First Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its performance during
On July 17, 1951, I was transferred to H&S Company, 5th Marines to serve as Assistant to the Protestant
Chaplain, traveling with the Battalion Aid Stations. In this assignment, I served as needed with three
Chaplains of the 1st, 3rd, and 2nd Battalions (respectively) of the 5th Marines. The warrant for
promotion to Corporal submitted while serving with the machine gun squad was granted around January 1st.
Shortly thereafter the promotion to Sergeant as a Chaplain's Assistant was given. I returned home May
The letters were gathered from various sources over a four-year period. Letters to my wife were found by
her in a cedar chest and presented to me in 1990 (we were divorced in 1985). Many letters written during
this period have not been found.
In early 1993, my former father-in-law, Lee Hess, found two letters stashed away in a drawer. Then later,
a deteriorating scrapbook containing photos, poems, cartoons, and propaganda leaflets were discovered in a
storage locker where it had been placed in 1987.
Some names and personal references have been deleted or changed to protect privacy. All other statements
are as they were written. Deletions are designated by dots (…) and changes are in brackets [ ]. Letters were
written with lead pencil on whatever paper was available.
The motivation for this effort is to memorialize the brave men who fought, at great cost in that terrible
war, sometimes under great deprivation and adverse environmental conditions; especially the men of E-2-5
where “uncommon valor” was, indeed, a “common virtue.”
To exemplify this, a machine gunner in E-2-5, Cpl. Duane E. Dewey, USMCR, was the first person to receive
the Medal of Honor from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Corporal Dewey earned the nation’s highest award for
heroism on April 16, 1952. When already wounded, he smothered an exploding enemy grenade with his own
body to save the lives of his comrades.
Special appreciation is given to those who assisted in organizing the various documents on the computer,
especially to my colleague Bill Tubbs, whose father 1Lt. Bill Tubbs, Sr., flew air support for the troops in
Korea from July 1950 to April 1951. Flying ground support missions against North Korean artillery, he flew
12 missions in the new F-80 Shooting Star, and 93 missions in the tried and true F-51 Mustang. On his 17th
mission his Mustang was shot down over the Sea of Japan while strafing North Korean gun emplacements. He was
rescued from the water by the destroyer USS Mansfield and returned to complete his 105 missions before
rotating back to the States. The elder Tubbs had an interesting Marine connection during his tour. While
waiting for spare parts for his Mustang at Hungnam near the Chosin Reservoir, he flew a combat support
mission with an F4U Corsair squadron, covering Marines during the early retreat in December 1950. The
senior Tubbs retired from the Air Force in 1968 as a Lieutenant Colonel with 26 years of service. Bill
Tubbs, Jr. is currently a Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard Reserve, stationed at the Marine Safety
Office in Alameda, California.
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written by Robert C. Janes
October 29, 1994
The name “Korea” was derived from the Koryo dynasty (AD 918-1392) and literally means “high and
beautiful.” During Japanese control (1910-1945), the country was called Choson, literally translated as
“land of the morning calm.” This designation probably refers to the mild, misty mornings that filled the
Korean valleys between the mountain ridges.
At the end of World War II Korea was divided into two parts for the purpose of accepting the surrender of
Japanese troops. Soviet troops occupied the country north of the 38th parallel while American troops
occupied the area to the south. In 1948 the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea was formed in the North.
The Republic of Korea was formed in the South.
On June 25, 1950, the North Korean communist army invaded the South. For the first time in its young
five-year existence, the United Nations had to respond with force to resolve a problem. By the time an
armistice was declared on July 27, 1953, almost 37,000 Americans had died; 103,284 were wounded; and over
8,000 are still missing in action. More than 5.7 million American men and women served during the Korean
War, 1.5 million of whom served in Korea. These figures do not include those from Britain, Canada,
France, Turkey, India, South Korea and other UN participants who served or became casualties. The civilian
as well as the military of the Korean people bore the most bloody burden of the war. It is estimated that
1,467,000 of the North Koreans and their Chinese allies were killed or wounded. These figures do not include
the civilians of either side who suffered great hardships, atrocities, and disruptions of their lives (e.g.,
Seoul, South Korea changed hands four times during the course of the war. By early 1952, Seoul was a
shambles of shacks. Most of its inhabitants had fled South.)
In the author’s mind, the Korean War had three basic phases: (1) 1950 – Inchon, the drive North, the
Chinese invasion, and the Allies’ retreat. (2) 1951 – The second drive North from the Pusan Perimeter,
breaking the Chinese resistance, resulting in their call for talks on an armistice. (3) 1952-53 – Peace
talks, stalemate, trench warfare. This is no doubt an oversimplification. Much action took place in each
phase which took many casualties on both sides.
Generally speaking, the front line of September 1951 is the “Demilitarized Zone” maintained today by the
Republic of South Korea Army with the support of 36,000 U.S. Army troops.
The Korean War has been dubbed “the Forgotten War” due to the lack of attention by historians, authors,
media, movies, and teachers. In spite of the staggering losses, there have been no great books or movies
about the Korean War. World War II veterans came home to the glory of victory. Vietnam veterans returned in
defeat to hostility. Korea veterans returned to indifference, as if we had never been gone. In fact, the
Korean War was a victory. The UN forces drove the enemy out of South Korea, which was their mission, albeit
a forgotten victory. It was the first time the United Nations fought against aggression of one nation
on another, and sent a message to the communist empire that violation of the treaties made by the United
States, Britain and Russia at the end of World War II would not be tolerated. This "Truman Doctrine"
was used to justify the war in Vietnam and the Gulf War I. The outcome of the Korean War was the
beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The Korean War
dominated U.S. foreign policy of "containment" and war against an aggressor nation for the last half of the
twentieth century until 2003.
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James S. Bannon
Earl J. "Smitty" Smyth
To James S. Bannon and Earl J. "Smitty" Smyth, semper fidelis,
forced out of action by severe wounds in September 1951--the last two survivors of our original
machine gun squad of April 5, 1951. Bannon died July 24, 1995, three days before the dedication
of our memorial. Smitty is presumed to have died about the same time.
Cpl. Richard L. Janes
To my late brother, Cpl. Richard L. Janes, USMC, who served
with the First Marine Air Wing in the battles for Bougainville, Leyte, Mindanao, and Luzon, Phillipine
Islands, during World War II in the Pacific. Upon returning home in 1945, he advised me, "Bob,
if you ever have to go to war, don't go with anyone but Marines." He died in 1990.
"This day will not go by, nor we in it.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he who sheds his blood with me will be my brother."
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- The "Dad" I wrote at the time was my father-in-law. He was a great person & the only "dad" I ever
had. I married into a great family- hard working, loving folks who treated me like their own.
- Those on 1st Mar Div flanks I heard were ROKs on one and US Army Div on other. Being only a PFC grunt,
I cannot be sure who it was, only rumor--which is probably fairly accurate. It was my first time under
fire and I was scared and angry as hell, so spouted off probably to make myself feel better. It was a
difficult transition to make, even from good training to reality. I'm not sure repeating those tirades
would serve any good purpose. I do know that we marines had no respect for the US Army or ROK performances
in "my" part of the war. "Tirades" were excluded from the following letters.
- What you are about to read will reflect somewhat the conditions and experiences of the typical front
line infantry combat marine during the war in Korea, primarily a "conventional" ground war. That is,
each side was lined up against the other across the Korean peninsula, with a "no man's land" separating
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Letters from the War Zone – Robert C. Janes
At Camp Pendleton, early 1951 (Jan-Mar)
Alone. How terrible it is to be away from you…perhaps in the future, many weeks. It is, I guess, one of
those bridges that can’t be crossed until we get to it. Then our sorrow…must be balanced by our faith in
God… in order to endure the long lonely days…Please forgive me (for “those few times of grouchiness and
temperamental attitude”)… I don’t really mean to; it’s just the edgy feeling I get sometimes after a day
of learning the killer trade. I know you understand... … I can’t wait for the day to come when we
can live and raise a family together in a peaceful, tolerant world. …It’s cold now and the stove
doesn’t work, so I think I’ll get this in the mail and hit the sack. God bless you…and keep us both safe
and healthy so that when that day comes when we can live our lives as he first directed, we can really
build our future with no strain.
…I’ve tried writing this [personal poem enclosed] amid rifle fire, mortar fire, and a crap game, which
makes it hard to think…nevertheless…with faith in God and each other, we’ll be together again someday and
be able to live our lives…and raise oodles and oodles of children. – Love, Bob
Oh night! How thou dost whisper about the broad, strong face
Of high mountains and gleaming shores
Bound by the vast ocean’s tight embrace
So clenched to cling forevermore;
And fill the valley so deep and dark
With clear, clean moisture of ocean spray
That nourishes the green meadowlark
Throughout the long & weary day.
And by the cliffs where humans dwell
You send thy restful din
That saturates and cools so well
To allow relaxation for tired men
Who labor and struggle throughout life’s way,
Fighting and trying to obtain earth’s best
Which consists of what may come by day
Then praying for darkness to give them rest.
Oh night! Don’t let my tired bones down
By being such a pest at present,
And pushing upon my face a frown
Because to me now, sleep is giving me resentment.
Oh night! Goodnight! And turn out the light!
[R.C.J. – March, 1951]
[Janes Note Year 2000: This poem was inspired by my mother Elizabeth Dunlap. At Camp Pendleton, my
wife and I shared a one bedroom apartment in San Clemente with Jim and Pat MacManus. Jim was a boot
camp buddy. We took turns sharing the bedroom. One night we'd have it and they'd take the couch.
The next night, we'd have the couch, etc. When my mother came from Ohio before I shipped out, it
naturally placed a strain on our small space. To compound matters, Mother liked to stay up late.
The poem was jotted out and presented to her one night while we tried to go to sleep on the narrow couch.']
March 13, 1951, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Darling - ... We board ship tomorrow and I suppose will head out to sea by nightfall... You
probably won't hear from me for a couple or three weeks, so don't worry. I'll write every possible
chance I get. I tried to call you tonight, but the line for the phones is pretty long...and I can't
hold my place. The poor guys; they look so sad, waiting nervously for their long distance calls to
come through. It was heartbreaking to see the excitement on their faces as they absorbed every
precious [word] from their mothers, dads, sweethearts, and such.
I wish I could hear your sweet voice just once more before I go. We've been pretty lucky...
[that] we had as much time together as we did... write as often as you can... and every once in awhile
send me a newspaper so I can read how I'm winning the war and losing the peace... You might send a
carton of cigarettes now and then starting with next week and maybe once a month unless I say stop.
If I can't smoke them all, there'll be plenty of marines around to help... Remember to keep your
chin up and don't worry... we'll be together again soon. - Love always, Bob
[Janes Note Year 2000: I couldn't hold my place on the phone line because I was prisoner-at-large (PAL)
and had to report into the Company Sergeant every hour. Ten percent of us were granted special liberty
to take care of personal affairs before shipping out (i.e., get our wives back home). That meant we
were excused from the "Draft Parade" on Saturday morning. On Friday night after coming out of the
field, they announced that Special Liberty was cancelled. Most of us went anyway, not returning on
Saturday. Charles Nitsche, mentioned later, missed the ship entirely because he took his pregnant wife
back to Missouri. He left with the 8th Draft a month later. I came back on Sunday evening and
was placed on PAL status. I had drawn $100 or $200 advance "dead horse pay" (you didn't have to pay it
back if you got killed) and my wife and I had a great time in Hollywood dining and dancing at the Paladium.
We thought it was worth it and willing to take the consequences. I was PAL aboard ship, chipping paint
in the boiler room until the Major could hold "mast" for us, at which time the charges against me were
dropped. Charlie only received a few days "extra police duty", which he never had to serve.]
Wednesday, March 14, 1951
Dearest... Happy anniversary, or is it? New address is: "A" Co., 7th Replacement Draft, FMF
Pac. c/o F.P.O. San Francisco, Calif. Tell everyone my address... Leaving tomorrow... Love you
... - Bob
Sunday, March 18, 1951 [4th day at sea USS Jefferson APA 30]
Wonderful one - The Red Cross gave us this "Gung-ho" stationery... Just got back from Palm Sunday
services... It's beginning to seem more real but still it's hard to believe I'm going to fight a
We left the dock at San Diego Thursday noon after spending the night aboard ship. The marine band
came down to play us a send off. It was quite sad. The first day out we ran into rough weather
and half the guys got seasick. I got a little woozy but managed to keep everything down. It
doesn't bother me now at all!!
The name of this tub is the U.S.S. Thomas Jefferson. It's a very small ship that's supposed to be
used in amphibious attack operations. There's about a thousand men aboard and we're so packed in,
that even a sardine would be embarrassed. The officers... have their own cabins and eat in plush
dining rooms with waiters and lavishly decorated windows and tables. We aren't allowed to get
anywhere near. The food is the best I've had since I left boot camp... These navy boys really eat.
I have to laugh, the only work a sailor does at sea, is sweep and paint. What a life they lead.
They do work, thou, when either coming in or out of port, but that's the only time.
We have muster, rifle inspections, and lectures every day, so that kills a little time. Already
I've finished two murder mysteries... That's all I could do without getting sick the first couple of days.
I guess I've gained a few pounds the last couple of days. Get plenty of sleep and good food...
Thursday, March 22, 1951 [7th day at sea]
Darling - Again I'll try to write a few interesting lines. Nothing about this trip seems worth
talking about. Today, while the gun crews were testing their guns, a .20mm shell fell short and
exploded on deck and wounded three marine spectators... Today, some of the boys put on a "Happy Hour"
consisting of music. One of the numbers they played was "Blue Moon"... I pray and pray that this
mess will soon be over and we can live a peaceful life together. Why? Why? Why?
I've asked myself a million times and the only answer I come up with is:
"Tis not ours to reason why,
But instead, to do or die."
That's it... that goes for any fighting man. Maybe God will show us why someday.
... Well, right now we're about 400 miles north of Midway Island, about 1/2 way there which is about
1600 mi from San Diego. We land in Yokosuka, Japan about the 30th.
The food is still good, and I'm getting awful tired of seeing just water. We ran into the tail
end of a typhoon yesterday and it was pretty rough. Those with weak stomachs caught heck again.
It didn't bother me, tho, thank heavens. I see Sims all the time now...
I still have hopes that the war will be over by the time I get to Korea. Promise that if anything
happens, which won't, you'll go back to Ohio to see the folks. They love you, too. Thoughts of
you are clogging my mind so, I find it hard to write. - ... yours forever... Bob
Pound! Beat, oh waves, against the ship
Until the mariners pay heed
To your strange and powerful grip.
Smash! Crash your strength against the steel
Until it gives and splits on the seams
And injures the vessel, unable to heal.
Forget! Give up your battle in vain
After you've been defeated by the hands of men
That assembled the steel, and don't return again.
Pray! Give thanks, oh mariners, to your Lord
Who deserves thanksgiving for saving you from wrath
Of a watery grave, and the briney horde.
[R.C. - March 1951]
March 26, 1951
Wonderful one - Happy Easter... Because we crossed the international dateline Fri night, we are one day
ahead of you, so it's Easter there and Easter Monday here. It was kind of funny... I went to Good
Friday services, then woke up the next morning for Easter Sunrise service...
For the last two days we've really caught heck as far as the weather is concerned. For awhile, it
felt as if the ship was going to break in two. It was really rough.
We land in Japan Thurs Mar 29 at Yokosuka and from there it's anybody's guess how long before we hit
Korea. Anywhere from 5 days to five weeks, I guess.
I bet it was nice back there today. You probably went to Sunrise Service wherever you are now,
then to church and communion... I know you've going to have a much tougher time than me... Someday we're
going to have a family... How fun it will be to tell our kids how [we] had to be separated for a few
months so daddy's boys won't have to go to war. God, make it so. It's like when we used to
walk in the rain. If we...got caught in a storm, it was a little unpleasant until it was over, but
we'd end up laughing and happy as ever. This is one of those storms...tell everyone hello and to
write when they can...tell them not to wait...God knows when I'll be able to write...keep your chin up...
March 29, 1951 [14th day at sea]
Dearest - Well, they pulled a fast one on us. We were supposed to land at Yokosuka today, but at
the last minute the ship got a change in orders and now we're going directly to Kobe, Japan, and are
supposed to dock tomorrow noon. Whether it has any significance or not remains to be seen. I
saw my first sight of land tonight as we passed some Japanese islands. It looked good despite the
fact it was Nip country.
What I need now is a letter from you...Soon I'll be home again and we can take up where we left
off...Nothing on earth can do away with me because I've got too much to live for...Pray hard...All my
(Written by Robert C. Janes, U.S.M.C.R., while enroute to the Korean War in March, 1951, aboard the U.S.S.
While watching the ocean slip silently by,
And hearing the emptiness of the sea gulls cry,
A lonely Marine bowed his head
To pray, and softly said -
"Dear God, blessed are Thy works and ways,
That guide us through these trying days,
And give themselves from You so free,
And furnish comfort to men like me.
I pray forgive me when I'm blue,
And help me all good things to do.
To be more tolerant of my fellowmen,
And consider them all as my closest friend.
Please watch over and comfort my wife,
Who is waiting and worrying for my life.
And if I shouldn't return, let her know the great love,
That I have for her from You above.
For mother, I pray there will always be,
Peace, happiness, and security.
And let her know the thanks I commend,
For making me the man that I am.
To all my friends and family too,
I pray give the blessings that come from You.
And help them to live and happy be
In a land that is forever free.
And now dear God, as I watch the sea,
I give You my life, for what Thy will might be.
I pray, during the story days, take away the rain,
And bring me safely home again." Amen
March 30, 1951 - Korea time
My darling - We arrived in Japan this afternoon and the only good part of it is that nine letters from
you were waiting on me...
They pulled another fast one on us... We aren't leaving the ship at all and the day after tomorrow
(Sun.) we shove off for Korea and should get there in about two or three days. The only liberty the
guys are getting is for two (2) hours. I doubt if I get it. I don't care, tho. I lost
nothing over here; nothing but time...
They're assigned us to units now and I won't know what I get until tomorrow... Stringer was assigned to
the 5th regiment (infantry) and Widiger was assigned to the 11th regiment (artillery). I could be
assigned to either of these... Most likely it'll be an infantry regiment. When we leave the ship in
Korea we are given one unit of fire for the rifle (80 rounds) and one day's rations of food. The
next couple of days may be my last opportunity to write, so don't worry if you don't get letters.
All I got to say is they're wasting no time with us... There's not much to worry about my going to Korea.
Casualties have been extremely light and I'm too damn good a marine to let anything happen to me...
I read about MacArthur's visit to "his old friends the marines" in the ship's paper. Poor guy,
got within a whole mile of the front. Gee gads!
This orient sure is a strange looking place from what I can see. It's just like a different
world. The ... Japs are really friendly [people]... I feel awfully bitter right now. I guess
that's a good way to be where I'm going. I'm just dying to try this pistol out.
... It's really nice to be able to walk about this tub and not grab on something to hold me steady.
Right now I'm in the mess hall and some marine's beating out some melodic strains on the piano.
Sounds nice. Will close here until I can come back again tomorrow with more information...
Goodnight, sweet dreams, sweetheart... - Bob
[Janes Note Year 2000: I got the two-hour liberty after all, and went with two other Marines. They
wanted to go to a house of ill repute. I did not. So we compromised. We pooled all our
money and went to a house. We had just enough money to buy two girls and three quarts of beer. I
sat in the hallway drinking my quart of beer until they finished with the girls. We had just enough
time to get back to the ship. I've never been able to get anyone to believe this story, but it is
Monday, April 17, 1951
I have carried your letter around in my purse for so long and read it over so much I've practically
worn it out. Your letters are very precious to me. ... There is always a little prayer for you in
the back of my mind... we are all rooting for you and with all that backing I'm sure things will be
allright in the end.
Of course the chief topic of conversation here is the firing of MacArthur by Truman. How do
the boys feel about it there? The papers say you are not permitted to express yourselves for
publication. The preponderance of opinion here seems to be in favor of MacArthur. Well, I
don't care who they fire from Truman on down if it will just get this mess over with.
... Please write me when you can and remember, we are all pulling for you. Lots of love,
Monday, April 24, 1951
Dear Dad - This is one of those man-to-man letters so standby. I've got to talk to someone and it
does no good to talk to fellow marines, because even tho they're as scared as I, they'd never admit it.
They're real marines. Great guys and great fighters. I'm writing you personally because I
don't want the women to know what the situation is and cause them to worry.
Well tis is it. The expected Chinese offensive has started. Yesterday we pulled out where
we were... and moved into secondary positions behind the lines of the 7th Marines because we got a tip
that the Chinese would hit last night. The ROK (S. Korean) troops were on the 7th Marines flanks.
The Chinese did hit and hit hard and the ROK's took off leaving the 7th reg.'s flanks open and the Chinks
hit the 7th from 3 sides causing heavy casualties. So we moved up to this high ground we're on now
and the 7th Marines withdrew this afternoon and we are now the furthest forward point on the front lines.
We expect the Chinks to hit us tonight and are preparing for them. From where I am, I can watch the
Marine Corsair planes bomb and strafe the hell out of them on the next mountain.
To tell you the truth, I'm really scared. It's my first time under fire. I don't know what
to say. It's hard to realize what's happening.
Since I got a letter from [my wife] Saturday telling me we are expecting, I've done a lot of praying
and thinking. I was so happy I laid down and cried like a baby. We've prayed it would happen
for four months now and I'd almost given up hope. At least if I shouldn't return, part of my own
flesh and blood is still alive...
... Now, especially since we're expecting, I want you to kind of keep her from worrying and don't
mention the war around her. Kind of smooth things over. It's hard to write letters to anybody
because the only thing there is to write about is what goes on here and I can't write about that.
This life is really miserable, but I guess it never really killed anybody. You just can't realize
how terrible war is until you see it, and then it's hard to believe. This war is different than any
ever fought by Americans. Korea is all mountains and the army doesn't know what the scoop is.
They're getting better lately, though. If it weren't for the marines, I don't know who the Army
would get to take their tough spots for them. A captured Chink Colonel called us the "yellow legs"
because of our leggings. He said the marines "don't eat or sleep, they just fight. They would
rather die than give up their positions." Which is about right. For the first time since I've
been in the Corps, I'm really proud to be a marine. I've got a better chance of living. The
marines don't leave dead and wounded behind like the army has done many times in the past. Thank God
for the marines, they're a bunch of good men.
Just back from down off the bottom of the mountain where I picked up some more ammo for our machine
gun. If the gooks hit us tonight, we're ready for them.
Better not let the women see this letter. No sense making them worry. You being a man, I
thought you'd understand how I feel. I'm wondering how you've been and wondering what you've been
doing, so get the lead out of your pants and write me. How about a hunting date for next fall?
If I'm home by then, which I doubt.
It has sure made me feel better writing you. Tell the women this is just one of those man to man
letters. I'll write [my wife] after this thing is over with.
The sun's about to go down and it'll probably be a long and sleepless night. The gooks only hit
at night and they come in groves.
Give my love to everyone and I know you'll take good care of my wife. Thanks, dad, and God bless
you. Love from son Bob. Give mom a big kiss for me.
Tuesday, 24th next day [obviously dates uncertain]
Dad - Both of our flanks got hit last night and a few casualties were inflicted. We're now
withdrawing back a few more miles. Our company has got the great job of rear guard. There are
gooks all over the area below us. Since we're last to leave, they will be hot on our tails.
God, what a nightmare. All because of those dirty, yellow cowards... They do it every time.
Don't know if I'll mail this or not, but I've got to do something now besides smoke one cigarette after
the other. All I can do now is hope and pray I get out of this mess alive. I don't know why
we're withdrawing. I guess the leaders know what they're doing. We're the furthest forward
point and the gooks are on both flanks. I guess they don't want another trap like up north last
1 hr. later
We're still waiting for the word. Down below to our rear the whole battalion is moving slowly
back. A helicopter just came in and flew out some wounded. I wish we'd hurry and get the hell
out of here. We'll be like fish in a rain barrel moving out with the gooks on both sides. All
we got is one platoon for flank security. They'll be lucky if they don't get slaughtered.
Can't get Kools over here, so I've become attached to Camels. I'm sure going through the packs
now. One after another. Can't help it.
The boys up here want to stay and fight it out but that would be suicide...hell with this glory stuff.
Our first gunner is due to go home in the next week or so, but he doesn't seem a bit worried. The
second gunner has got the G.I.'s and feels miserable. Our section leader who has been overseas for
29 months, 7 months in Korea, doesn't expect to go home for quite a while. He was in the trap up
north and is half shell-shocked. He's a heck of a good man, up for the bronze star and purple heart.
[Unfortunately, I didn't mention any names.]
Tanks are going to help us guard the rear. I like those big iron cans. God bless 'em.
Still waiting. Our battalion has already pulled out and I guess we'll wait until the 1st battalion
This morning at sunup they told us to "standby to move out in an hour." The sun keeps going
slowly across the sky and we're still here. Just finished a can of cold chicken & vegetables for
lunch. We're going back to the very same place we were a week ago when our skipper got hit.
He's probably back in Japan now, lucky guy.
[This paragraph is a tirade against the ROK's for not defending their own country & blaming them for
our need to withdraw.]
What a crazy letter this must be. Like a diary. Doubt if I ever send it. It's just
something to keep my mind occupied. The other guys are keeping a lookout and squeeze off a few
rounds every now and then. I'll wait until I can see the rats before I go wasting any ammo.
Our company has just about all moved out, so I suppose we'll be moving before long.
Wednesday, April 25, 1951
Dad - Just to let you know what has happened since yesterday. Well, we got out all right from
where we were yesterday. Tanks and marine Corsair pilots covered our withdrawal with unmatched
efficiency. We drew a little machine gun fire as we walked out of the draw, but not much. I
had a chance to see some of my old buddies in "A" Company when we crossed the river. They're all
vets now, too.
Where we were yesterday we were 18 miles north of the 38th a little east of Chunchon. We walked
8 hours straight and came up to where we are now about 3 miles north of the 38th. We're still the
furthest forward point in the line and I hope to God we don't get trapped. We're dug in on the
high ground. two regiments, the 5th & the 7th are forming this part of the line. The draw
our squad and the adjoining rifle platoons are covering offers perfect fields of fire and no human could
possibly come up. The chinks have crossed the river and are coming our way, but let 'em come,
because we're ready for them. We've got a double supply of ammo for the gun and each man has at
least a triple unit of fire for his own weapon. And me, I've still got my trusty .38 revolver
besides my rifle. We expect to get hit hard tonight, but I don't think they'll run us off.
No doubt we'll withdraw tomorrow or next because we're too far forward, and we have to go back where the
army is to even up the line. It's for sure we'll leave many dead gooks behind.
[Another tirade about the ROKs & army doggies for causing the retreat.]
If they had enough marines to form a line from coast to coast, this war would have been over long
ago. These boys don't run like the doggies and the ROKs. Right now the gooks are to the
right, to the left, and right in front of us to the north. All that remains in our control is a
narrow passage to the south. Thanks to the ... Army division, we're outflanked. They told us
the gooks awre now 10 miles from Seoul and have the west coast supply route cut off by a roadblock.
Thank God we get ours from the east coast.
The First Cavalry Division rushed in to fill the gap that the ROKs left and dug in around Chunchon.
The ... ROKs came walking into Chunchon last night with the chinks on their tails and the 1st Cavalry
cut the ROKs up before they found out they were S. Koreans. We've been receiving gook artillery
all night and it's starting to get heavier now. Tonight we'll catch hell. A few of the guys
are playing "hearts" as if nothing was happening. I like fighting with these men. They're
the best in the world.
I'm sitting here in a hole trying to be calm and not jump every time a shell hits.
We had a few minutes this morning to write a letter before the mail went out so I wrote [my wife] a
short letter and told her we were on the move. I hope she doesn't worry about it. Truthfully, I'm
in good condition. This mountain climbing with 50 lbs. of ammo & weapon plus a heavy-as-hell pack
on the back makes you hard in a hurry. Haven't lost much weight that I know of. Got a nice
crop of chin whiskers and am dirtier than I've ever been in my life. It's a long way to water.
Well dad, this is all the paper left in this notebook I carry, so I guess I can't write anymore
on-the-spot stuff. Have to clean my weapon, anyhow. Probably won't ever mail this letter.
You'll be reading about us in the papers, only when you do, cut it in half, take out the drama and
adjectives, mix a grain of salt with it and treat it as a fiction story and you'll have the straight
facts. Signing off for now. Love to all. - Son, Bob
[Janes Note Year 2000: I still remember how scared I was. I could not sleep, listening to every
little sound, sleeping with my shoes on. As mentioned in later letters, we walked out of three traps.
One especially sticks with me. When we came down a mountain in the middle of the night, it was raining
and so dark we had to hold onto the entrenching tool on the pack of the man in front us like the "blind
leading the blind." When we got to a road, there were burning trucks everywhere. But at least
the fires provided some heat and light.]
I think it's Friday, April 28, 1951
Dearest ... wifey - Hi, momma. I got all your back letters yesterday and just now got the one
dated the 18th telling me it's for sure we're going to be parents. I'm so happy I don't know what to
do... I feel like crying every time I think about it, and sometimes do... it sure puts a new slant on
life, doesn't it?... Be sure to let me know every little detail about everything...
... You have probably heard how the situation is here. Three days ago we, the marines, were 18
miles north of the [38th] parallel and had a line an ant couldn't even get through. Thanks to
[those] who [were] on our flanks, the flanks gave way and we had to withdraw so we wouldn't get trapped.
Now I'm one mile south of Chunchon south of the parallel and I think we're going back to Hongchong.
If there were marines all across the line, it would have held. We would have stopped them cold.
As it was, we had to withdraw without hardly a fight.
Those chinks are afraid of us. They're smart, they hit the weak spots where the [non-marine
units[ are, then we have to withdraw for fear of getting trapped. We sure were wishing they'd hit us
in force, but they didn't. If they had of there'd have been many, many less Chinese. Those
boys are sure going to pay for getting me here.
Don't go believing all that baloney about the war and the rotation system. Just pray I get home
in time to meet the baby. And above all, don't worry about a thing because I've learned to take care
of myself like I never have before and I'll let you know when there's anything to worry about. I'm
still healthy and in good shape.
... It's raining now, so don't mind the water spots... i'd better close because we'll be moving out any
minute now. Don't know when I'll get to mail this. Don't worry, darling...say hello to junior
for me... - Your husband, Bob
Monday, April 30, 1951
Dearest darling - Hello... How are you and junior getting along? Our own little child...it will
no doubt be the best looking ornriest kid alive. Gee, I'm so happy. Your tired old husband is
still alive and in good shape. We've been moving a lot lately, but got a decent night's sleep last
night, thank God... We'll be moving again today.
I believe I'm finally getting used to this life. I say that every time I'm sitting down, but when
we start climbing these mountains, I change my mind. The past comforts I once knew are nothing but
vague images of a dream I might have dreamed a few nights ago. Necessities like hot water, a bed or
even a hard cot, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh, hot food are considered nothing less than the
most lavish luxuries. Probably when I get home I'll be sleeping on the floor so I can sleep, and
eating out of cans so I'll know how to eat. You'll have to beat me to start shaving again. And
a bath every day would probably eat my skin off. Ha! Ha! It's funny. The worse it gets,
the better it is. We make jokes about each other's miserableness and it's quite morale building.
I'm afraid Bill Mauldin left out a lot of things when he drew those cartoon in "Up Front." But what
he did draw was 100% correct.
The water we drink, which is mountain spring water, tastes just like Ogden City water and makes me
homesick with every gulp. That's because of the Chlorine pills we put in it to purify it.
Water -- what a precious commodity! ... Tell junior (I'll call him junior until we find out whether
it's a boy or girl. It makes no difference which, just so it's normal.) ...
... Got to get this ended before the runner takes the mail down. - Love, Papa Bob
April 30, 1951
... Darling - Guess the letter I wrote you this morning was dated 31st, so disregard it. I'm
having a heck of a time keeping track of the days. Don't know when I'll get to mail this. They
usually tell us when the mail goes out and we have just so much time to write a letter... I write every
chance I get. We get so terribly busy at times.
We moved this morning and didn't move as far as I thought we would. Wee came aobut 300 yds
further up the ridge. We'll probably move again tomorrow...
I just can't explain how much your letters mean... It's such a relief from this terrible tension... I
usually read your letters over several times, then ___ burn them. I hate to, but I have to because,
believe it or not, I'm so weighted down with equipment, I don't have room for them. That probably
sounds funny, but you'd be surprised how heavy even a few letters get while climbing these mountains.
The only clothes I have are on my back except for two extra pairs of socks & one pair of skivvies. I
threw away some dungarees, skivvies, socks, part of my sleeping bag, and any gear that isn't absolutely
necessary, and still I wish I could throw something else away. Us ammo-carriers have it 'toof.'
Ha! The riflemen kid us and sing to us as we go by, the ammo-carriers famous battle-cry, "I can't
make it!" Unquote. I've uttered it myself a few times.
It's getting about dark, so I'll have to close shortly and maybe finish the next chance I get.
Got a letter from your dad... He's happy about our baby, too... I get so excited. All the guys call
me "daddy" and it sure makes me feel good. I take a lot of ribbing, too, but it's great. Can't
see, so I'll finish later... - Love always... - Bob
Tuesday, May 1st, 1951
Darling - I'll try to write some more. We've been standing by to move since 6:30 this morning and
haven't moved yet. These are the most unstable front lines I've even ever heard about.
The division's got the record now of days on line. We'd better get a rest before long or there's
going to be some sick men around here. Since I joined the regiment we've been on line about 21 days.
Only 3 hot meals in 21 days, the rest all C-rations. The last time the regiment got off line after
30 days, they were supposed to have 15 days rest , and after four days, we were on our way again.
It's not good for men to be on line this long, but I guess they know what they're doing. There's
just so much a man can take. I don't feel it much yet. Still healthy and in good shape.
Get a little nervous once in awhile, but I've got plenty of cigarettes to help that... I don't know about
naming our baby Robert if it's a boy... Maybe if I got home by the time the baby is born we can decide
The weather is fine since the last lousy rain we had. It's hot as the devil in the day and colder
than that at night. Just like regular mountain weather.
That's really [nice] about my name being put up in the narthex...I'm glad there's someone back there
that knows there's a war on.
The general feeling among the boys here is in favor of MacArthur, so I have my hands full of arguments
because I favor Truman's reason for firing him. I don't believe he should ha ve gone so far as to
fire old "Doug", but agree that MacArthur's policy is too dangerous. No one has ever conquered China
and never will. This Chinese soldier is a good fighter, I respect him muchly. The U.S. can
hardly take care of this front, let alone open another one. I say get out of S. Korea altogether and
make a defense around Japan. Why should we fight for a country, when its own troops won't fight for
it? If it weren't for [them] we'd still be up north 18 miles above the 38th. You see, these
guys have a different outlook on things than I do. I'm the only married man in the squad and one of
two reserves. That makes a big difference. Oh well, it's for sure they'll never get me again.
There's a lot of easy jobs in the service and if there's a next time, it's an easy job for me, or nothing.
If I have to join the Air Force to get out of marine reserves, I'm going to do it. Even tho it's the
best outfit in the world, they'll never get me again. Too tough for me... All I want is the right to
live my own life as I see fit and raise my family and mind my own business not bothering anyone, or anyone
bothering me. If my being... over here means that our son will never have to live through this hell,
then I'll stay and even die if I have to. If I were only sure that there would never be another war
that our children and their children would have to fight, then I say keep me here until this useless
bloodshed for politics is done with. Forty-nine thousand Americans [160,000 by war's end in 1953]
have shed their blood on this worthless soil, and I've seen a few of them, and it's much too big a price
to pay for the reason they try to feed us. But far be it from me to ask why. I'm just a peon
and a puppet on a string that has to do what I'm told. I know I'll come out of it all right because
I've never been closer to God before than I am now... please... don't ever have the least amount of doubt
in your mind.. doubt is no good at a time like this. There's been times when I thought I couldn't
move another inch, and there'll be more such times, but I pray and beg for strength and He keeps me going.
Without God, I'd probably be laying at the bottom of one of these mountains right now...
Enough of that, for heaven's sake. Above all, don't worry, because I'm fine and I'm always going
to be fine until I can hold you in my arms again and this horrible past will all be forgotten about.
I had the opportunity to take another cold water bath yesterday in the stream way down below.
Boy,d id it feel good. Especially when I washed my feet. Hmmmm. Some nights I sleep with
my shoes on and after a week or ten days the feet become very unable to live with, if you know what I
mean. The only clothes we take off when we retire for the night are the shoes, nothing else, so a
guy gets pretty stinkin' dirty in a short time. Still, it doesn't seem to hurt much. Whenever
we pass any "doggies" on the road, we poke fun at them and bark like dogs. The only come back they
have is, "you might as well bark, you live like dogs anyhow." We don't have the gear they have, but
anyone of them will tell you, meek like, that we're the best over here.
I sure got excited writing this, didn't I? Don't mind it, I guess I have to speal off once in a
while. ... It won't be long before we'll be together again..and raise the best family ever...without you,
I'd be just as worthless to the world as this war.
I just had a drink of that ice water that flows at the bottom of the mountain. The guys just came
back from making a water run. The first water I've had since last night. Hmmm Good!
... I'll write every chance I get...keep faith and keep praying, and I'll soon be home to you and our
baby. God bless you. - Bob
Bless 'em all
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
Those doggies are sure on the ball;
They started a drive for the river Yalu,
While we froze our butts off on old Hagaru.
Then they bumped into five million reds,
And headed for Pusan instead.
We'll be home for Christmas,
The kids never missed us.
So cheer up me lads
Bless 'em all.
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
MacArthur and Ridgeway and all,
They know all the answers,
Just how to withdraw;
They're the speediest allies the marines ever saw.
But we're saying goodbye to them all,
As southward their asses they haul.
There'll be no gumbeating,
We're glad they're retreating.
So cheer up me lads,
Bless 'em all.
Bless 'em all, bless 'em all,
The Commies, the U.N. and all.
Those slant-eyed Chink soldiers
And they now know the meaning of U.S.M.C.
So we're saying goodbye to them all,
As home through the mountains we crawl.
The snow is ass deep to a man in a jeep,
But who's got a jeep?
Bless 'em all.
Bless 'em all, bless' em all,
Bless Truman the cause of it all.
He cut down the Corps,
And he kicked off the sea,
The last rusty ship of the U.S. Navy.
But we're sure that old Harry S.
Will get us out of this mess
He'll write another letter
And make things all better.
So cheer up me lads,
Bless 'em all.
May 4, 1951
Sweetheart - How are you and junior coming along by now? I don't suppose he's started kicking
yet, has he?
...We're entering the 3rd day of a 5-day reconnaissance and combat patrol. Our company has been
sent out, reinforced, to find out where the gooks are. We're 6 miles into enemy territory and using
this ridge as base of operations for smaller patrols like we went on yesterday. Yesterday, we took
only weapons and ammo and walked 5 miles up and over mountains, but still couldn't make contact with them.
there were some gooks here just before we came, but they pulled out. I imagine they'll move our
lines up further now since this area has been patrolled.
This is our 27th day on line. I told you wrong, the last letter and, someone corrected me.
When we get back to a rest area, I'll try to write every day. It's hard telling when that will
... When I get home I'm going to eat nothing but ice cream, milk, fruit, and T-bone steaks. Gee
whiz, how I wish I had some.
I'm selling my pistol and sending you the money and I want you to buy something for you for Mother's
Day...Also something for the baby... Mail's going in, have to close... - God bring us together soon. - Bob
Saturday, May 5, 1951
...Dearest... - ... I still haven't got any packages yet, but expect to when and if we get back to a
rest area. I can hardly wait. I know one thing for sure, I'll never complain again. If I
ever do, I want you to say just one word: - Korea - and that should shut me up in a hurry.
We're still on this patrol and tomorrow I think we'll be going back to our lines again. I'll sure
be glad when it's over. From there it's hard telling where we'll go. Everybody's praying for a
rest, but I doubt if we'll get it for awhile. Our regiment holds the record for days on line and the
division holds the record, too. The last time the 5th was on line for 42 days and then had four days
rest when I joined it and it looks as if we might break the old record. I hope not. The doggies only
stay on line 3 to 4 weeks, if that. I'll be glad just to get back to our lines again so we can get 3
rations a day again.
It rained all day yesterday and last night and thank God the sun's out again. So our baby as of
Apr. 21st was 1" long and 1/8 of an ounce...Isn't that wonderful? ... If it's a boy I hope to God he
never has to go to war.
There are a few guys I've seen here who never went to boot camp and I can sure see the difference.
In a way, I'm thankful I went through.
I finally got a carbine which lightens my load about 15 lbs. I'm getting better climbing now,
too. As a matter of fact I was the only ammo-carrier that made it up the final mountain the other
day without konking out. The heat got the others. I'm satisfied with my position now in
machine guns. In the assault, we stay behind and give support fire to the riflemen (what I trained
to be) and move up after the position is taken. In the defense, we've got the advantage because
these light machine guns really spit bullets and boy that counts. The CP usually digs in by us
because it's safer. So, honey, you've got nothing to worry about, I'm quite as safe as I can be on
...You're being here [as you wrote] could never help me. This is strictly a man's job... I never
want you to see this kind of stuff and the sooner we forget about this part of our lives, the better. ...
Doubt if I'll ever want to handle a weapon again after this.
That's a shame about the plaque [sic] from the DAV... It was just for a good cause... Can't ever tell,
maybe I'll be needing help from them some day... Somebody's got to do something for those men that gave
their all for their country. It's sure as heck the American people don't care about them...
Don't worry about this Chinese offensive, it'll be their last one. They can't beat us, and if we
only had enough marines, the old mess would be over in no time. I'm glad MacArthur has been relieved
and don't sell this Ridgeway short, he's young, smart, and a hard driver. I feel sure he can do the
job. Hope Truman doesn't get too much criticism for it, because he's dead right. The people
back there can sit back in their soft chairs and raise hell over something they know nothing about and
scream for a second front that would keep us over here for years and knock the U.S. for a loop she's never
been knocked before. Why, they can't even keep this front going, let alone another one. What a
bunch of stooges those people are. Always thinking about how much they can collect off war.
... probably won't get to mail this until we get back to the lines and I can scrounge an envelope.
Got one sheet of paper left, too. In case anyone wants to know what E-2-5 means on the address, it
means: Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment. So long... until i can be with you again in words
.. Love, Bob
[Janes Note Year 2000: I never touched a weapon again after release from active duty except when serving
in a color guard for the River City Chapter, First Marine Division Association, during special events in
1992-1993. My four children grew up without weapons, toy or otherwise. I did not realize until
recent years that this was out of revulsion to my war experience.]
Hello again... We moved back on the same hill we were on the first day of this patrol. We're
going back tomorrow morning, thank heavens. I'll be able to mail this letter then.
I just finished a can of wieners and beans mixed with a little garlic some of the guys pulled out of a
[Korean[ garden down below. Really good, esp. when I'm hungry. Your husband is developing new
tastes. First time in my life I ever liked garlic. Guess I'll have to try that when I'm home,
garlic and beans. Probably sounds sickening to you. I'll probably lose my taste for it when I
start eating decent food again. We got some awful good cocoa, too, that just takes water. I
sure do like it. We get soluable coffee that hits the spot once in a while. I suppose I'll
forget that, too, once I get back to the old faithful milk bottle again. I've almost forgotten what
eggs taste like. And a hot bath. When I get home I'm going to fill the tub to the brim with
hot water and just lay and soak for hours. It'll take that long to get this dirt off of me.
The last hot shower I took was at Pusan many days ago. I did manage to give my teeth a good brushing
tonight. It's funny how the necessities I used to have and the little things I always took for
granted have become large luxuries and dreams now. What made us the maddest during our withdrawal
[April 1951] is that they burned truckloads of candy bars and beer to make room for troops in the trucks.
And here we are half starving. Oh well, we'll be back on three meals a day again, once we get back
to our lines. I'm still fine and healthy so I guess that's what counts. What's a few months of
sacrifice for a life of happiness? ... I thought of you an awful lot today... I was hoping I was laying in
the back yard dreaming all this and you would come and wake me up... there'll be many more happier times.
- I love you, Bob
Sunday, May 6, 1951
Hi, Mamma - ... Well, we made it back to our lines all right and had a double ration waiting for us and
some of the guys got packages (not me, their's were dated March 6 and 14, so I guess it takes about 2
months to get here). Anyhow, now I'm so full I'll probably be sick. My stomach has shrunk,
anyhow, and I really put away the food and pogey-bait and I'm so bloated I can hardly move. This is
quite a change after starving to death for five days.
The patrol was a huge success and we found out a lot of information. It's sure a relief to be
back to the lines again, it gets kind of tense in enemy territory. We didn't lose a man.
There's still no word of a rest for us, so we may break all records again. Our company's been pretty
lucky, so far, tho. Now that it's over I guess I can tell you that we walked out of three traps, one
we walked all night long in fog and rain, praying that the [enemy] wouldn't find us. We've only lost
2 men, one in my section, since we've been on line, and believe me, that's good. Some of the other
companies lost quite a few. Things on the front are going pretty good, and Seoul didn't fall after
all, so I don't think there's anything to worry about. Things are pretty quite [sic] along our
lines. The gooks won't throw a frontal attack at us because they know what we marines can do, so
they concentrate on the [non-marine units], but now even the doggies are getting good, so this war will be
over soon. They seem to think that this is the last Chinese all-out effort for victory and when we
crush that, they'll make a bid for a settlement. I hope and pray that hunch turns true.
It's rumored that we'll pick up our replacements tomorrow that came with the 8th draft. Boy, are
they in for a surprise! Those packs and hills they climbed at Pendleton were nothing compared to
these here. I hope I know some of them.
... One of the guys just vomited from eating so much. Hope I don't do the same, but oh, what a
pleasant way to get sick.
Summertime is well on its way and flies and mosquitoes are getting thick. The days are getting
long and hot and dustier. They gave us another canteen to help the water situation.
... Guess I'll get in the bag. We're moving again tomorrow. I believe when I get home I'll
just get on the couch... and not move for 3 months. - ... Love ... Bob
Monday, May 7, 1951
Dear ... mama - I didn't get sick after all last night and this morning I feel great. My stomach
is contented because of the double rations we got and the other guys' packages that they passed around.
Looks like I'll be sharing the packages you sent me, too. These marines are great, if they've got
something you haven't got, then they share it, no matter what.
They're going to let us rest a day or two to recuperate from that patrol, so I hear. We might
stay right where we are, about 200 yds. behind the line. Oops! Spoke to [sic] soon, we're
moving at noon. Nut's we're right by a stream, too. I knew it was too good to last.
The doggies have their lines set in right next to ours. The marines pass the time barking and
yelling remarks at them. It's quite funny. Morale last night was pretty high after we got our
bellies full. Long into the night marines in our company yelled all kinds of funny noises and
remarks that aroused a lot of laughs throughout the black mountain sides. Morale is always high
among these real fighting men no matter how tough the going is, and when it does get a little bit pleasant
for them, they really cut loose.
It was kind of hard to sleep last night on a full stomach...
To quit dreaming is almost impossible... To live in the past is the only thing I can do... Every little
detail of our time together comes back to me clearly when there's a lull in this rugged life and I can
think of something else besides saving my skin. I used to think it was bad for me to live in the
past because it tore down my morale, but now I've changed my mind, it helps keep me going.
5 hrs later
We moved back up on line again after one night's rest and as usual, we're on high ground far from
We got our replacements a little while ago and I feel like an old battle-weary veteran next to them.
They're clean, fat and healthy and loaded to the gills with equipment that they'll soon be throwing away.
I guess I was the same way when I first joined the company, but it's quite funny the difference that can
be seen between them & us.
Most of the guys now have the G.I.'s and sick at their stomach from eating all that junk yesterday on
an empty stomach. I'm fine, tho...
The sun is about to call it a day and this new man we got in the squad is talking to me, so I'm having
a heck of a time concentrating on this letter. Now we're shoving our pictures back & forth...
You'd never believe this is the front lines. It's so quiet it's getting on my nerves.
Another company went out on a five-day patrol this morning. I sure feel sorry for those guys.
Some of our mortars are zeroing in on the mouth of the draw and breaks the uneasy silence once in
They brought steaks and bread up to us today for lunch. I had a cold steak between two big slices
of bread topped off with a chocolate bar they gave us. Not bad.
... I'll close now so I can clean my carbine before dark... All my love, Bob
Tuesday, May 8, 1951
... Darling... - ... Things are awfully quiet along the lines lately except for a few artillery pieces
(ours) zeroing in. They've been sending out an awful lot of patrols which you're probably reading
about. As a matter of fact, things are so quiet that part of the company goes back to battalion
headquarters for a day to get 3 hot meals and a hot shower and clean clothes tomorrow and the other part
goes next day. I get to go tomorrow and believe me it will certainly be welcomed.
Rumor has it that we're going to set up a permanent line here just below the parallel and not go north
anymore because the State Dept. says not to. How true it is, I don't know. They've been
setting out barbed wire and stuff, so it might be true. I hope so.
Please... don't worry... Honest, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. I'd tell you if
there were... I know it's hard, but please try... You've got it much tougher than I... You're brave...
much braver than I would be in your case.
The way things are going I think I'll be home in no time. Things are looking good for me because
I'm a 3-b reserve and replacements are coming in right and left. Just a few more months of hardship
and sacrifice and I'll soon [be there[ ... and we can await that glorious day together when the stork
I've really got plenty of rations now and believe I'll be getting fat if I keep this up. I think
we're going to be set up here for awhile and that means plenty of goofing off, hot chow, and rest.
They're not sending machine guns on patrols so much anymore, so that means much more crop-out time for me.
I'll be awful lazy... when Ig et home. Please don't worry, darling, everything is fine. Your ...
Wednesday, May 9, 1951
Dearest - A little present for you to buy yourself and the baby something. This will help take
care of any of the birthdays, anniversaries, etc., until I can be there in person... be sure to buy
yourself something and something for the baby collection. ... love you, Bob
Thursday, May 10, 1951
...Sweet mama - Since it's been so quiet, I've been trying to write a few letters... The flies are
driving me crazy... I'm getting so I can call them by name (names I wouldn't write). I thought that
was quite funny after I wrote it and me and myself had a big laugh over it.
I sent you a $50 money order yesterday... that's what I sold the pistol for...
... Went down to BN H.Q. yesterday and had three hot meals. Same old marine chow, but it tasted
pretty good. The hot showers didn't show up, so I took a bath in the stream and even shaved off all
my beard. I looked almost human again for awhile. I managed to scrounge a clean dungaree shirt
and gave a little... boy a pack of cigarettes and a candy bar to wash my skivvies.
You might know that as soon as I dig a perfect foxhole, we move out. We're moving further down
the ridge tomorrow. Doggonit.
...Last night during my watch, I made plans for our future and I thought about our child and how fun it
will be to grow up with "him" (used because I don't like to call my child "it"!)... Next Christmas should
be our best ever, huh...? ... I think I'll close here and see how many of these flies I can kill.
...love always... Bob
Saturday, May 12, 1951
Darling - Had a [Korean] give me a haircut today for a package of cigarettes. This outdoor life
is something I would really have relished when I was a boy. I used to eat this stuff up--of living
under the trees, sleeping in the open with the stars as my roof, living in the mountains as if I were part
of them. Without the [Chinese] and the flying bullets, this would be a camper's paradise. Not
much to hunt or fish, but with plenty of food a mountaineer would really have fun. A forester's
paradise--plenty of room for land and soil improvement. All the small bit of reforestation that has
been done here has either been burned out by napalm or cut down by the enemy to afford him protection from
our great firepower. Now, summer is underway and the wild apple trees are breaking out in colorful
blossoms; strawberries are showing their first signs of progressing as the little yellow blossoms peek
their heads through the evergreen duff. Many wild flowers are displaying themselves amid the
blackened areas and add their bit of color as if trying to cheer the faces of these worn trampled over,
fought over mountainsides. It's God's way of showing that He is still here, and that man can't
altogether, through his warring ways, destroy all of the little natural beauty that remains here and that
I am sitting here trying to enjoy.
The days are getting longer and the sun is turning our white skins to a deep bronze under the coat of
dirt that quickly collects on us. The air is filled with the throated strains of the hummingbirds,
pheasants, magpies, undisturbed by the clank and thuds of entrenching tools and marines' loud
profanity as they dig vainly at a root or a rock in the bottom of their foxhole. The streams are
getting smaller as the sun draws the cool moisture into the air. My mind, from lack of mental
exercise, is growing stagnant along with the rice-paddy water, and I wonder if I'll ever be the same
again, or ever again take for granted the wonderful luxuries that American civilization had to offer...
We moved a few hundred yards yesterday, and that's all. We still get that lousy hot chow every
other day that isn't worth walking six miles round-trip for, except the breakfast.
... This is the last of this stationery, so will write again tomorrow...when I can burn some. - God
Saturday, May 12, 1951 [later]
Dearest... - Just got back from making a water run and the guys that came back from getting hot chow
brought me two letters... You certainly should have got the letter by this time that I answered the
one I got from you saying that we were expecting. I wrote it on a Sunday about 2 days before the
chink offensive started. I think about Apr. 24 or 25, we had a roadblock set up and got hot chow
that day. I was so happy... I can't understand. Sure makes me mad. You know, it takes at
least 20 days for a letter to go to you and the answer to come back to me. It takes, I guess, about
10 days for a letter to reach you from me.
A lot can happen in that 10 days... We might have moved all over Korea in that time. My mood and
being probably changes a hundred times in ten days, depending on the situation, and if I wrote a moody
letter griping a lot, chances are I'm in a fine mood by the time you get it, and you feel bad for me
feeling bad 10 days before you get the letter, and I'm feeling fine, when you're feeling bad.
Confusin', eh? So remember that when you read a letter from me, that was me ten days before.
In case you don't get that letter... When I first found out we were going to be parents I'll tell you
my reaction I was so happy... I laid down in my hole and cried like a baby. All night long I laid
awake... and thought and made plans. During my long night watches, I think and dream and make plans
about us and our baby. It takes me away from these surroundings for awhile and sometimes it's a
great let down when something snaps me back to the present...
I just read a clipping one of the guys had about our withdrawal from up north. It was titled,
"Marines Plod Tortuous Trail," and went on to say how we hated to leave and the tortuous mountain trails
we took in the rain and so on. "We lived with death. We had steel in our eyes." Very
dramatic, but so true. According to the Chinese radio, we've been completely wiped out. That's
a laugh, they'll find out how much we've been wiped out when they meet us the next time. According
to the papers, we saved the whole front. Small wonder. Also the guys heard down at Batt. H.Q.
today that we get $75 more a month now for front line pay. Not bad...
... Wondering if there are any prince fly-fly boys in your office. If there are, don't hesitate
to let them know that your husband is with a line company in Korea and doesn't like little boys that make
passes...A guy can get awful bitter in a place like this and a fly-fly boy would be just another thing
that a combat marine could take care of. Those guys are so far behind the lines, they even sleep in
the south end of their tents. I respect the pilots, tho, they do a lot for us and we never have a
chance to thank them. (Marine pilots are best, tho.)
... I'll mail these when I go down to hot chow tomorrow... it's so dark I can hardly see to
write...Goodnight... dear wife, - Bob
Sunday, May 13, 1951
Darling - ... Happy Mother's Day. ... I'm down for my hot chow today and waiting for the protestant
services to begin. Finally got in stride with the rest of the marines and got a case of the dear old
G.I.'s. Feel okay now, but don't know the outcome yet... Everyone's got them. The doctor says
it's the change in diet from C-rations to hot chow. Kind of hard for the old stomach to get used to
eating C-rations one day and chow the next. The only thing that makes me mad is that I can't eat
much, but the swill they feed us isn't worth eating, anyhow.
I'm wondering if you've been getting all my mail. Did you get those souvenirs of good money...
and those letters that were written on 8th Army stationery?...
I just read in the San Francisco Chronicle that the marines saved the U.N. lines from disaster, with
the help of the British Brigade and Korean marines. Didn't know we did that much. Guess I'll
have to ask you if I want to know what's going on here. Send me a paper now and then... Hope
you can read the letter I wrote in the dark last night... - Love, Bob
Monday, May 14, 1951
One thing about the rain that is falling now is that there aren't so many flies around. Even our
planes don't fly in weather like this. I'm snuggled inside of a little shelter I just built and it's
quite cozy. Step in, won't you? (Said the beast to the beauty)... How I wish it were that easy.
I'm sure getting to know all the angles of camping.
As long as we stay in this one place and as long as I can bum stationery, I'm going to write
everyday.... There for awhile we didn't have time to- you know what.
The G.I.'s I had yesterday are gone now, thank heaven. Believe it or not, I feel lots better
eating C rations than I do when I eat that slop they give us at batt. H.Q.
Oops, it's raining in a little... shut the windows, mama.
They're starting to hold reville and school everyday now. Imagine, right here on the front lines!
Something big is about to happen pretty quick now. We're sucking the chinks into a nice big trap.
By the time you get this, it'll be all over but the shouting, and Joe Gook will be running for home.
They would never push us off this ridge. Every day we dig and improve positions. Batt.
Commander came up yesterday & inspected them and said our particular squad had the best dug positions in
the company. You should see mine--about chest deep with a nice little ledge to sit on and take life
easy. Did a nice job of camouflaging, if I do say so myself. I can just imagine how the rain
is filling it up with water now. You see, we usually dig two positions--one to sleep in and one to
fight in. We sleep on the reverse slope and fight on the forward slope. That way we are
concealed from the enemy until they start coming. Reminds me of the forestry, when the man on watch
yells that the gooks are coming, I hop out of my bag, throw on my shoes, grab my gear and away I go into
my fighting hole. Ah, yes, it's a great life.
... A few flies just flew in to keep dry. I blew smoke in their eyes, and they left again.
Guess I'm not a very good host.
I woke up this morning to a bird call that sounded like a duck and it reminded me of our trip to the
Columbus Zoo... and chuckled to myself... until I finally had to get up and heat me a can of beef stew for
Sure am smoking a lot lately, can't help it...
Cut down all 5 day patrols to 3 days now. They decided that 5 days on two C ration meals plus the
work and tension involved was too much for a man to take. We were the first and only company to go
out for 5 days. Guinea pigs, so to speak. When I got off that patrol the size 30 pants I was
wearing was way to [sic] big (I used to wear 32) but now I'm getting fat again.
Stationery is getting awfully scarce now. They sent us a tablet & one envelope for the whole
squad in our PX rations. What a joke... Yesterday the guys got packages as far back as February.
Naturally, things like candy and fudge were melted or moldy. The only things that last are packed in
Don't mind me rattling on... I'm not going crazy... I'm getting so this kind of living doesn't even
bother me anymore. Just have to close our eyes to it and take it as it comes. No use ducking
it, just makes it worse.
... You should see the short haircut a [Korean] gave me for a pck. of cigarettes, can of corned beef
hash, and a bar of soap. The last two articles I gave him for a bonus. Nobody here ever eats
the lousy hash they put in rations. It's getting so the [Koreans] don't even take it anymore.
Of course we ate it out on that patrol, after we loaded it with garlic. I found out what being
hungry was out there. Found out what being scared was a long time ago. Never get used to that,
In case you don't know what C rations are, I'll try to explain. One day's rations (3 meals)
consists of seven cans about the size of Campbell's soup cans. Three cans contain 3 of the following
variety: hamburgers, p. & beans, meat & beans, weiners & beans, beef stew, sausage paddies [sic], chicken
& veg., C.B. hash, spaghetti, & ham & lima beans. Three cans contain such things as suckers, jam,
candy, coffee, & cocoa. The remaining can is fruit of some sort. Therefore, one meal consists
of 1 can of heavy, and one can of light. A packet is also added which furnishes cigarettes, gum,
water pills & toilet paper. Live on these everyday and you even get so you like them. That two
meals a day tho, is no good. When we get our rations everyday it's just like opening a Xmas package
to see what you got. After everyone gets his box open, he runs all over trying to trade a can of
something he doesn't like. It's quite funny. I got two hash & one beans one day and I'll never
get over that. You can't even GIVE hash away...
Still raining, looks like an all day and night job... This paper's getting wet... I'll close here so
the other guys can make use of this tablet. Time for my quinine, anyhow. ... Pap, Bob
Tuesday, May 15, 1951
Dearest... one - As long as there is stationery to scrounge, I can keep up writing everyday, until we
get a little busier.
... It is still raining and let up just long enough this morning to allow us to make some much needed
repairs on our shelters. It was all right until the wind changed and blew all the rain in the open
end of the shelter. I woke up this morning in a puddle from head to foot and everything was soaking
wet. When it let up, I got out of the wet bag and changed my shelter a little and half-dried out my
gear and sleeping bag. So now I'm all snug in my little home again and outside it's drizzling and
the heavy fog that left awhile this morning is rolling back in. I wish the sun would come out...
I've been finding a little joy in working out homemade algebra problems to keep my mind from growing
too stagnant... I've forgotten quite a bit that I learned. Also have been entertaining myself with a
book of Damon Runyon short stories. Pretty good.
These clippings [you sent me] I've been reading about describing our withdrawal make me mad. It's
no wonder you people back there worry like crazy. There's absolutely no sense in writing all that
crap down to the detail. Anything to sell newspapers and it's really dramatic. They play it up
good & bloody. Don't believer or take serious all that baloney they write. Someday, if I feel
like remembering any of this, I'll tell you all about it.
It's starting to rain harder again... reminds me of Oregon. Imagine yourself living in the Oregon
outdoors during a week of their drenching wet rains and that'll take care of two Korean rainy days.
At least that's the way it seems to me.
A guy just passed me in two cigars and I'm laying here enjoying it... I won't do such things when I get
home... I have to be doing something all the time. smoking or chewing gum or something, anything.
They just passed the word that we can buy 8 cans of beer that'll come up tomorrow, but a guy is buying for
the whole squad. Good, good, good! Haven't had any beer for a long time...
Today is our 38th day on line. I guess they're considering this lull in fighting & 3 days a week
of hot chow is a rest. It just isn't the same back in the rear as it is up here. A man can't
relax up here, no matter how quiet it is. Every man stands a watch every night and back in the rear
it's only a short one every 3 nights or so, and then back there you only watch like a stateside firewatch.
Up here, it's different.
It's quite funny when a guy gets to thinking of the habits he's formed here and what would happen if he
went home with the same habits... Such as: going into the bathroom and bracing the legs before sitting
down (developed on these mountain sides) and then trying to dig up the floor in an effort to cover up the
product. Then at meal time coming in with filthy hands, putting a can of beans on the stove, eating
them, and then throwing the can in a corner. At bed time, going into the back yard, dig a hole and
throw out a sleeping bag and checking with the wife what time you have to stand your watch. Then
there is of course the rolling out at the slightest noise, or diving for a hole w hen a car backfires and
other such oddities that make up our present life. You get used to anything after a while and it's
not so hard to take.
Had to break myself of sleeping all sprawled out--sleeping bag isn't big enough. Sleep with my
field jacket as a pillow--ground doesn't serve the same purpose that the mattress used to. ... I'll never
complain about anything again.
Can't wait to hold our baby, you'll have to teach me to change diapers, too. I'll never care if
the baby wakes me up in the night. Can go a long time without sleep, found that out here.
Well... I think I'll heat me up a can of corned beef hash (ugh) and a cup of cocoa for supper.
These letters are in bad shape from the rain so hope you can read them okay... Always remember that I am
with you in my prayers and dreams... - Bob
Wednesday, May 16, 1951
Darling - Am now down for hot chow again and I must say they finally put out some decent food for a
change. I snuck in the line twice this morning and ended up with four eggs, 2 sausages, 3 boxes of
cereal, 2 oranges, and drank about a quart of that powdered milk they mix. No. 1. I just got
through the lunch that consisted of fried spam, peas, potatoes, cake, peanut butter & bread, & that
whitewash they call milk. It was pretty good and I'm wondering if I'll be able to climb back up the
mountain with all this chow in me.
It finally quit raining, but is still gloomy & foggy.
I went to church service this morning and going again this afternoon. The chaplain holds three a
day... they give me quite a lift. It seems funny going to church with a weapon strapped on my back
and ammo around my waist. Back to that old irony again.
Haven't had any mail for a long time. Nobody seems to be getting much. Can't understand it
unless it's fouled up somewhere. A guy got an airmail package today that only took 12 days to get
here. It cost too much, tho, and don't think you'd better send any airmail...
We're supposed to get shots for sleeping sickness on e of these days...
You've probably got a letter from me since the chink offensive began and now I hope you've stopped
worrying. Nothing at all to worry about, except maybe I'm getting a little fat from not doing much
of anything. Haven't seen any gooks for ages...
Just happened to be meandering past one of these rear echelon pogey's tents and a radio was giving out
with some symphonic music, so I hung around and listened until it was over. It's the first music
like that I've heard since I left Pusan. I don't know whether it made me better or worse, but it was
Think I'll cut this short... and wash up before I go to the service... hope the baby isn't causing you
much grief... - ... Love..., Bob
Thursday, May 17, 1951
Dear ... mama - Please pardon this dirty stationery, but beggars can't be choosey.
Business is picking up again and I suppose we'll be back to the old routine before long. Remember
the [Korean] barber that cut my hair? He's now in a P.W. stockade. Somebody finally got wise
and picked him up. He was a spy and had all our positions and barbed wire mapped out. I
thought he had no business up here on the line, but nobody seemed to care, so I didn't either. Next
civilian that comes up here gets clobbered.
I went down for hot chow again today and it was pretty good. My stomach must have shrunk because
I can't eat as much as I used to... I eat as much as I can stuff in and get so full I can hardly move,
which isn't near what I used to pack away. Nobody gets to go down tomorrow, so I'll maybe get to
rest a day up here...
I get a kick out of trying to talk to the Korean laborers and odd-balls they have around. The
best statement I heard today from one who travels with our company was, "U.S.M.C. - No. 1 (best), U.S.
Army - No. 10 (no good)." We talked all afternoon trying to explain to each other what different
things meant in our own language. This one particular guy explained to me in a roundabout way that
he was going to school in Chunchon before the war and his mother was there. Then he asked me if the
Chinese were in Chunchon yet. I told him I didn't know. I told him, "Chinese would soon be no
more," as I made like a machine gun... These Koreans are really bearing the blunt end of this war.
Hardly a house is left standing, and only the old people are left to cultivate the paddies. The
chinks carried off a lot of young men and women during their last retreat. We have a little Korean
boy with the company that we picked up when we walked out of the second trap. He was living in a
cave on the 38th and as we walked by, he came wandering out half-naked, half-starved, so we picked him up,
hoping to drop him off in a S. Korean village so someone would take care of him. He's been with us
ever since and the boys feed him and clothe him and teach him naughty words to say to other marines.
He has a better pair of shoes than I do. His name is Pisan.
I've got the first watch tonight, so maybe I'll get a decent night's sleep if nothing happens.
About 7 hours in all.
The sun finally came out this afternoon accompanied by a very chilly breeze. A new moon comes out
early and retires early every night. I'm glad to see that moon again.
Dog company went out on a patrol the same place we did and ran into some gooks. They (D. Co.)
laid on a ridge and watched these [enemy] change into civilian clothes so as to infiltrate our lines as
refugees. After waiting a half an hour trying to get permission to fire on them (a recon patrol trys
[sic] to avoid a fight) they finally did and left many, many [enemy] behind that will never ever again
make trouble for anyone...
The mail situation is nil... I hear there's quite a bit back at Div. H.Q... I go nuts when I dont'
hear... how I dream and live for the day when I can take the two of you (you & Jr.) in my arms and hug
you... and never let you go.
After this is over, there will be a future to work for and a terrible past to be forgotten... I have so
much to say that can't be put into... lines that I slowly jot out while lying on a Korean mountainside...
So many things I want to tell you... and plans...
It's getting dark and almost time for my watch, so I'll have a last cigarette... - God bless you, Papa
May 1, 1951
[Rec'd about May 19, 1951... I wrote a letter on back of this letter on May 20, 1951]
...thought I would take time to write you a letter... I was tickled to hear that [your wife] was
pregnant. I think it is wonderful. She'll be a wonderful mother and of course you will be a
pretty good father. Who am I kidding, you'll be the best ever. You should be home by December.
I hope and pray you are.
... We are all sitting around waiting for our babies to come. More women are pregnant.
Must be something we ate or something in the water. I'll be so glad to be slim again. When the
guys stop whistling at you, then you know there's something wrong, and they stopped whistling at me months
ago. I think I've lost my sex appeal. I haven't really lost it it's just settled in my seater.
(Isn't that an awful way to talk. I'm so sweet, too). - Love, your sister, Betty Anne
[further pages lost]
Monday, May 14, 1951
[written during retreat. rec'd during attack on Hwachon]
... Darling Husband,
This is the 4th time I have written this letter and each time it gets harder. If only I were
there to tell you and not have to write it.
We have lost our baby... I just came home from the hospital today... It all started last Tuesday
night... Thursday I got so bad they had to take me to the hospital... what a nightmare these last few days
I'm still asking why and hurt of losing our baby is still there but God will help us. A little
more rain in our life... to make the sunshine brighter... The hardest part of it all is writing and
I'm going to concentrate on getting good & strong so when you come home we can have another one...
I know that this is harder on you being so far from home and I know how much you wanted it... I'm
praying that God will help us understand why and I know this is where you'll turn too... May God take good
care of you and help us both at this time...
I just read the paper where the Chinese are starting another attack & my heart goes to my toes...
You must get awfully hungry [eating weiners and garlic]. when you get home I'll be in heaven
just to be able to cook & take care of you.
The months... will pass eventually...
Love always, [Your wife]
Saturday, May 19
Dearest ... Mama - Only a few minutes until dark, so will write what I can.
We moved and it came as a complete surprise to us. We rolled out early yesterday morning... We're
getting awfully busy again. The army relieved us and we thought sure we were going to a rest area.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, I got a package and 3 letters... I've got a lot to tell you so I'll
probably make it short, or wait until I have more time... Maybe I'll have time tomorrow...
We walked 15 miles to Hongchon yesterday and thought sure we were going to be there to rest a few days,
because that is an ideal place in the rear to be. They told us we were to be held in reserve to plug
any gaps in the line in case of a breakthrough. Well, early this morning we boarded trucks and rode
east about 15 miles and then walked north about 6 miles and relieved an army unit, so we are back on line
after 8 whole hours in a rest area. It seems [some non-marine units retreated last night' so us
marines have to come up and hold the line... There's a lot of humor connected with our march yesterday, so
will describe details later... - Goodnight, my love, Papa
Sunday, May 20, 1951
[written on back of letter from my sister due to no paper]
We moved about 200 yds up the ridge, and are dug in, so I think I've got time to write a little.
We're in business again and it's getting heavy. all night there was an artillery duel and our guns
finally won out. The shells from our guns were coming so close over our heads, I felt as if I could
reach out and touch them with my hand; of course, I wouldn't try it! Of course, there was no sleep
for anybody. Since sunup the Marine Corsairs and Navy Panther jets have been giving the gooks on the
next high ground from here about 1000 yds seven kinds of hell. They've really been pasting them.
A nice, quiet Sunday afternoon. We don't have to worry so much about them in the daytime. I'm
becoming quite a night owl and don't require near as much sleep as I used to.
We moved from the other place the day before yesterday, quite a few miles from here. They gave us
strict orders that we were not to bark or whistle at the doggies who relieved us. That made us mad
and we had to have SOME fun, so we made many, many signs and hung them all around the place. As we
moved down the hill, we met the doggies coming up and we didn't say a word. One doggie said to us, "U.S.M.C.
- U.S. Muscle Corps." A big negro doggie, who was catching his breath on the trail, was telling us
how far it was. We told him we walked it every day just for hot chow. he said he'd starve to
death before he walked that far for chow and one marine said, "Ah, hell, it's just a short walk."
The negro breathlessly said, "It's a short walk for a marine but ah'm in da army, tho." We got a
chuckle out of that. When we reached Batt. H.Q., I got a package of letters and had just time enough
to read the letters and strap the package to my pack. During a break, I opened it, passed out the
candy and stowed the Kools. Another guy got a package, too, and we ate during the whole march.
Also at Batt. H.Q., there happened to be an empty doggie jeep with a crate of Schenley's Canadian Brand
whiskey in it. Well, some of the boys, being rather chilly, because of the rain, decided they needed
a stimulant, so one by one, nonchalantly, they walked past the jeep and each grabbed a fifth and hid it in
his jacket. All during the march, guys were swiping boxes of chow off of passing trucks and passing
it around. As we passed different outfits, we yelled at guys we knew and had one big circus the
whole fifteen miles. We reached Hongchon and everybody thought sure we were there for a rest because
Hongchon is really in the "rear with the gear." That night, we got our 8 cans of beer that was paid
for the day before and everybody was drunk and having a merry time that night, what with all the whiskey
and beer. It was the first night we could relax for the 41 days on line, to that time. I drank
one can of beer before hitting the sack, because I was tired and in no mood to make merry. I drank
another can while I stood watch, gave two away and packed four. We got word to board trucks the next
morning and everyone thought we were just going further to the rear, so we drank beer, whiskey, swiped
chow off of trucks, made cracks, and whistled at the doggies and M.P.'s and just had one big time for
about fifteen miles; then the trucks pulled to a stop and we thought, "Boy, they're going to give us a
break so we can heat our rations." What a laugh, we got word to unload and saddle up. Faces
dropped and the laughing stopped. Then the doggies told us what happened. Our boys, the ROK's
hauled ass and the doggies lost some more ground, where we are now. It just so happens, this is
where the 5th Marines jumped off into the attack during "operation killer" last March. The marines
had all of this ground secured for miles around two months back. Everyone was mad and our gunner
screamed to the doggies standing by watching, "Once, just once, why can't your guys hold on to ground we
take for you! Just once!" The poor doggies grew red in the ...
[letter ends abruptly. Apparently next page(s) lost.]
[Janes Note Year 2000: The Army troops did not wait for us to relieve them in their positions. They
were coming down the hill while we were stumbling up. I'll never forget the Army 2nd Lieutenant
begging and pleading with his men to wait for us to relieve them. They paid no attention to him and
kept on coming down the hill. We secured our positions at the top and held the line. I don't
remember getting attacked that night, but I do remember the Air Force B-29s and Navy 16-inch guns laying
down a barrage right in front of our lines all night with the earth shuddering beneath at every explosion.
When we jumped off after a day or two, dead Chinese troops were everywhere, ripped apart in many grotesque
ways, with their supply animals, including camels and horses. There were also some dead medical
personnel, including females wearing red crosses on their caps. Later on we discovered 200 dead and
wounded U.S. soldiers--mostly dead--who had been caught in an ambush as they fled in retreat down a draw.
It is my understanding that this particular Army regiment lost its flag to the enemy and to this day is
trying to earn it back.]
May 26, 1951
I just received your letter telling me the news. At a time like this I am lost for words.
All I know is that it's God's will... I keep telling myself that but it's hard to take. I haven't
been able to talk to anyone or think of anything since I got the letter and as I am writing this my throat
is stuffed and there are tears in my eyes. I cried it out in as private place as I could find and I
prayed to God and thanked Him for keeping you safely through what must have been a terrible experience.
We still have our future ahead of us... and that's what we must have in mind constantly. Let us not
lose our faith in God and each other... We can still have children... I could never have taken what you
did... I know that if I had been there it might not have happened... I only wish I could have shared some
of that burden & pain for you...
I got the airmail package yesterday morning just before we jumped off and ate most of it on the spot...
Today we secured our objectives early and there is now a lull in business and only because of this is
there time to write. This stationery and one envelope was given to the squad, so I grabbed it in a
hurry. We are terribly busy so don't worry if you don't hear from me so much... I'll always be safe
so there's no need to worry. We are a little south of Hwachon Reservoir... and we are jumping off
for the reservoir tomorrow morning.
I just wish I had plenty of time to write... while we're on the offensive, we go from dawn to dusk and
there's hardly time to eat. It has to be that way, and I think Joe Chink is on his last lap,.
I hope and pray so.
It's getting quite late... I hope you can read the letter I wrote on the back of Betty Ann's letter...
I carried them around in my pocket for 5 days before I had a chance to give it to a runner to mail for me.
I hope he doesn't forget. All that counts now is that you're all right...
Goodnight, my dearest... - Bob
Fragments dated May 26, 1951
... Letters I didn't get a chance to mail. We're on the offensive & got the gooks on the run.
Very busy every day. Now east of Chunchon, 7 miles south of 38th... this is the toughest I've ever
had it in all my fouled up life...if I ever have to serve again, which I'll shoot my leg off before I do,
I'll get in the Air Force. This infantry is for the birds. We do the most, deserve the best,
and get the least, but it's always been that way and I can't change it...
... I think I'll be a better man after this. Things don't faze me anymore like they used to.
I mean things like somebody being hurt or something. We close our eyes to a lot of it, but deep
inside it still hits hard. "He was a good guy," then it's never mentioned again, but I think every
man's insides cry with sorrow while his surface remains hard. I know I'm that way. It has to
be that way or a man would go crazy over night. It's something every man here wants to forget, if
you can forget this kind of stuff. No man wants to purposely hurt someone, but when good buddies get
hurt, it's not hard at all to repay the responsible parties and laugh about it afterwards. It's a
dirty job that has to be done, so do it, get it over with, and forget about it. Forget, forget, God
help me forget!
The doggies are tied in with our squad. We're okay if they don't run off and leave our flanks
open... if they do, we'll just turn our guns on them. There's no room for cowards up here... There
must be better things to write about... oh, shut up Janes... I just run off with myself.
It's not like in the movies over here...there just isn't the background music to make it more exciting.
There is a lot of drama and emotional moments and different characters play the parts...
They still call me daddy, and I call them son. It's quite funny.
... The corsairs are still going strong. I'm sitting here in my hole watching the show.
It's a wonderful feeling to know those guys are on our side. These marine pilots are the best there
is. They're noted for the close support they give us. And yet we never get to thank them...
Sunday, May 27, 1951
I have no idea when I'll be able to mail this, and it's almost dark so I won't be able to write much
... Your letter telling me the heart-breaking news... hurt me deep inside and I've never had such
sadness... I thought of seeing the Chaplain, but I'm much to [sic] badly needed with the squad and there
wasn't time. Every time I read your letter I had to sob a little and I didn't care what the other
guys thought. I think they understand. If only I could have helped you in some way...
... As for the news now, which you are reading in a hashed-up newspaper story, is good. We have
two Chinese armies trapped and are closing it like a ___ claw, taking everything it its path. The
big wheels think the chinks will quit fighting if we close the trap successfully. That would be to
[sic] wonderful for words. I am now about 10 miles north of the 38th on the eastern front, I think.
Today is my 50th day on line and I think when this deal is over, we'll get a long rest. We've
shattered all records and a little peace & quiet for awhile should put us back to par again. Just a
little peace & quiet!
It's getting too dark now... - Love always..., Bob
Monday, May 28, 1951
... Wonderful one,
I feel better this morning after a little bit of rest last night. We jumped off at 2:30 a.m.
yesterday and by last night I was done in. We are now waiting for the 1st battalion to catch up with
our flank and are moving out then, which could be any minute now...
... My insides are still eating away at me and every time I think of [losing our baby] it darn near
gets me... The best thing to do now is try not to think about [it]. It is necessary for me to have a
clear mind at this time... say a little extra prayer of thanks for me... I've remained unharmed thus
far... We're moving out... - I love you, Bob
Tuesday, June 4 [or 5], 1951
Don't have much time to write. This is to let you know I am fine and there is nothing to worry
about. We have been terribly busy and you may not hear from me so regular now. Today is 58 days on
line and with no hope for a rest for awhile. If we could only get a few days to relax and write
letters and wash up. Our company now consists of about 1/2 of its men. Replacements are due
any day now so that should bring us up to full strength.
... I probably won't be home before Nov. unless something happens. There are still guys here that
have been here since last Sept. & Aug. I hate to dissapoint [sic[ you honey... but facts are facts.
... The last two weeks have been nothing short of hell [and the mail I got from everybody was very
... No one can ever talk to me again about the [non-marine U.S. forces]. I know how they operate
because the last two weeks we've been tied in with them on the offensive. We had to hold up a day
and wait for them to catch up with us. I saw 200 dead & wounded they left behind when they retreated
a couple of weeks ago. The 5 wounded were lucky, the Chinese let them go. Right now we've got
to go up and secure 9,000 meters of ground they bypassed. The only way they can fight is from the
back end of a truck... As for the Air Force, the ground men of the Air Force... [are] far behind the line.
The pilots help us a lot, but when their mission is done, they go back and have their hot meals and clean,
soft bed. The only man that knows what war is, is the man who is serving in a line company.
Even many marines who are rear echelon don't know what it is. Nobody can tell you what it's like,
you've got to be right there on the spot, then the feeling you have is undescribable [sic] hell.
There's nothing I could do that would send me to hell, because I'm already here.
... Thank [your brother] for his well letter... I've lost his address tho, the rain ruined all the
letters I was carrying. Enclosed is some [Chinese] money, & propaganda that I picked up after we
took a hil... - Your ... husband, Bob
[Janes Note Year 2000: Our company got lost from the rest of the battalion due to the fog and rain for a
few days. About the second or third night we set up a perimeter on the top of a mountain. The
only water our squad had was what I had collected in a poncho and poured into my and other's canteens.
After a night of raining and shivering, we again rose to thick fog. Our squad broke all our weapons
down, parts spread all over a poncho, to clean off the mud and rust. We did the machine gun first,
then our own weapons: carbines, .45 automatics, and M1 rifles. All of a sudden the fog lifted and the
sun shone. Then all hell broke loose, bullets flying, men running from a northern direction, bleeding
and clenching their wounds. We threw our weapons together and took off North a few yards to return
fire. While putting my carbine together, my trembling hands dropped the sear spring into the dirt,
without which my carbine was useless. Luckily, even though shaking severely, I was able to recover it,
finish reassembling my weapon and quickly joined the squad in returning fire and going into the assault.
We found out later we had completely surprised a battalion of the enemy. This was on the Southern rim
of the "Punch Bowl" area.]
Tues June 4 [or 5], 1951 Same day
... We were supposed to move out first thing this morning. Here it is afternoon and no word yet.
What has happened the last two weeks -- We jumped off into the attack the day after I wrote you the
letter on back of a letter from Betty Ann. We took all the ground back in two days that the army
units had lost, then we broke through the gook lines and went hog wild and gained mucho ground. Our
company alone took the battalion objective and we were so far ahead of everyone else they didn't know
where we were (fog, rain, no radio or air contact). We went 2 days on 1 1/2 meals and one day on no
food at all. Finally the other companies caught up with us, the skies cleared and they dropped chow
to us from "flying box cars" and we continued on to take more and more ground and stopped to where we were
last night with only 50% of the company left. We paid a terrible price and the going was tough, but
the gooks paid much higher than we did. The Korean marines relieved us last night and we thought
sure we were going to get a rest, but we've got to go relieve some doggies so they can rest. Nuts!
We walked about 15 miles and got here last night, somewhere behind the lines. We're supposed to go
back on line today. Yesterday we were about 5 or 6 miles west of east of Inje. I don't know
where we are or where we're going. All I know is everybody is pooped and sick and tired of fighting.
All we want is just a few days rest and hot chow. The gooks are probably going crazy trying to keep
up with us, we shift so much.
It has done nothing but rain and fog for the last two days. The sun shines about 2 days a week.
There's nothing I could ever say that would describe this deal. I don't think anyone could. Best
thing to do is forget about it.
It does no good to talk about it now, but if you had wired me when it happened, I would have got it
when we were sitting around... and I could have got over it sooner. As it was, I got your letter a
couple of days after we were in the attack, and if it's any time a guy should have a clear mind, it's
then, and it was a whale of a load to carry for awhile...so let me know right away when anything comes
... I try to sound happy and sometimes I write you when I shouldn't because of the moods created by
this life... It's a hell of a feeling having my hands tied like this and helpless to do anything.
Ask [...] how he can be such an authority on this war & the marines and the army & the air force when
he's never stuck his clean, white neck into anything like this? It's the same over here. A
rear echelon marine picks up the stories of experiences that we on the line have, also buys souvenirs from
us that we get when we overrun a hill, then he goes home or writes home in detail about the bloody battles
and action he's been in when actually he doesn't know what it's all about. We who do the fighting
and the dirty work try to forget a fight when it's over with, because it's more terrible than you can
imagine. I would have gook weapons or a number of things that are there when we take a position, but
I don't want them. The thought of past firefights make me sick and I don't want anything to remind
me. I carried a tooth I knocked out of a dead gook's mouth for awhile after my first fight, but then
I got so sick of misery & death and all this horrible stuff that I gave it to some punk who likes to snow
the new replacements. That's the kind of man he is. When we got word we were jumping off into
a big push he turns into sickbay and missed all of the worst fighting this company's had since the trap up
north last winter. So what does he do? He came back yesterday and we told him about the hills
we took and the gooks we killed, so he writes home and tells everybody he went through what we did.
There's a lot of jarheads like that. They live off the glory and get credit for something that other
marines die fir. No man in his right mind wants to remember or talk about this. A guy that
goes home and talks about what he's been through probably never even saw the front line. Anymore I
just close my eyes to it and hope I don't go crazy.
Whew! I sure got excited, didn't I...? It's raining again so I crowded into my little
Remember Fred Bogner? He led a squad of snipers that was attached to us, as a point when we
assaulted the last hill we took. Well, every one of them got wounded. I was just talking to
him before we jumped off that morning. I don't know how bad. That was last Sat. morning... he
hadn't heard from MacManus, either.
I scrounged a no. 1 poncho off the army and a rubber "blow 'em up" mattress from one of the guys that
got wounded, so now I'm sitting pretty. I have to blow the mattress up about 4 times a night, it's
got a leak in it somewhere. Sure is better than trying to sleep on the cold, hard, rocky ground.
... I can't imagine how wonderful it will be to be home safe again...
This letter hasn't done much but bitch so I'd better quit. Don't worry if it's too long between
God bless you, Bob
Wednesday or Thursday, June 6, 1951
The main trouble with stationery is that the envelopes always stick together, either from rain or
sweat. But it's just another thing to put up with.
We secured some of this by-passed land yesterday and are set up on one of the ridges. We're
supposed to get relieved for a rest today, but we've been supposed to be relieved for 3 weeks now. i
daren't think about it. I'm leaving the "bitching stage" of this life and entering the "I don't give
a damn" phase. It doesn't pay to get mad or listen to all the promised they feed you.
I'm in E category of the reserves and probably will serve my time in this forsaken land before I come
home... I can figure on 6 more months here, which brings it up to the average of what every marine is
serving on the "6 mo. rotation plan"... They don't start figuring your time until you've actually joined
your company which I did on April 5th...so that means I'll be here until Dec... I'll be darn lucky if I
get home by Christmas...
You've never seen a rougher-looking bunch of men than we are. We're actually crummy. The
last I touched hot water was Apr. 4 at Pusan, except the time a month ago when I heated a helmet full the
last time I shaved. I've changed clothes once and the only time they've been off is when I got those
few opportunities to bathe in a stream. I'm afraid if I took them off now, they'd run away from me
shouting, "Keep away from you, you cruddy thing." If the replacements join us before we have a
chance to clean up a little, we'll probably scare them to death.
Sixty days on line today. Everybody's so washed out they don't even bother... prisoners...
anymore. A prisoner is a sorry thing in the hands of marines, but the ones we took the last couple
of days have been lucky.
Don't know when I'll get to mail this. Just put it away until I can. Me oh my what a life.
... I'll close here and write later when I'm in a better mood... - Your ever-lovin' husam, Bob
Well, I feel much better now. We came down off the hill we took yesterday and are set up on low
ground by a river. The 1st batt. relieved us and we are now in regimental reserve for a couple of
days, I hope. We get hot chow tomorrow, I hope again. Actually the whole regiment gravely
needs a rest and I have hopes that we'll be relieved in a few days. We came down this afternoon and
it was pretty hot. Well, we took a break by the river and this skipper said we'd have 2 hours, so
everyone went crazy with joy, threw off all their crummy clothes and dove into the river. It was
wonderful and I soaped myself down about ten times before the scum finally came off my skinny body.
I plan on going swimming tomorrow. We're a few hundred yards from the line, just enough to relax a
I hear we got a write-up in a paper telling the story of how our platoon took the batt. objective.
We "fixed bayonets and ran a battalion of gooks off of hill 808." We did run a lot of 'em off and we
watched them as they ran down into the valley out of range of our gun. But many didn't have a chance
to run and my carbine talked mucho pretty music to them. There's a long story about that hill and
some humor that I'll tell you about someday maybe. It wasn't funny then, but it is now. Also
some sadness that I don't like to think about. Maybe you'll read about it in a magazine or
something. Actually, it wasn't as tough a fight for that hill as it was for the ones following.
A guy that came over with me knocked out a light and heavy machine gun by himself on that hill, but he
paid a big price for it. He'll get either the Navy Cross or Silver Star--posthumously. I'll
tell you about him someday maybe. So if you read about how the 3rd platoon Easy Co. 5th marines took
hill 808, you'll be reading abut me and the rest. Enough of that.
Replacements should be in shortly. The company is desperately short of men, so it's a good thing.
Tell ... [...] about ... [the] Air Force... jets pounded the hill (next one after 808) one evening and
morning and then we tried to take it and got pinned down for six hours, lost many men and had the toughest
fight we've ever had. The gooks were still there--300 of them, so intelligence said, and they were
still there when we secured it, only not able to fight. I'll never forget that fight and believe me,
I never prayed harder or was more scared in all my life. The army never would have taken that
hill... [planes aren't around when it's raining or foggy] ... no ground is ever taken until we secure it.
We--the men who live--exist--in the mud and rain and eat meager rations and sweat out the heat and shivver
out the cold. We who never take our clothes off for weeks on end, and fight no matter how hard it
rains, or how heavy the fog and lose sleep at nights and buddies all the time. We meet the enemy
face to face. We wipe out bunkers that all the planes in the world couldn't harm.. sure, they help
us a lot, but the infantryman bears all the brunt of battle and before battles. We know what being hungry,
thirsty, tired, cold, hot, and every human misery is. We have to put up with all of these besides
the enemy. Oh, what's the use, no one will ever know or realize what it is until they're actually
going through it. It's just beyond words so why ever talk about it.
I don't know why I even mentioned what's going on, guess it's because I feel so good right now.
It's just something I want to forget...
I'm glad you're on your feet again... you'll never know how I worried. ... Don't know when I'll get
home again, truthfully...
I'm full of words, but it's getting dark. I'll write again tomorrow if nothing happens... - Good
night... darling, Bob
[Approx. May 27, 1951]
My Dear Grandson -
Well - you are a full fledged scout now. ... Your letter was sure full of fire... My gosh boy -
why didn't you wait awhile. Don't you know I am great grandmother ten times (or nearly) now.
First thing you know I am going to turn into a peacock with my feathers all aflare...
Bob, I do hope you will not have to be in the front line and that God will ... protect you every
Now Bob, you don't have to apologize for the dirt and smudge on your letters. That is all on
the outside. The inside is the hardest to keep clean. Know what I mean? You sure have
enough load to carry -- it will make you strong and able to walk the floor at night carrying the baby.
I am proud of you boy, and hope your bravery will help build the morale of others about you.
Now one thing I differ with you. My whole support is for McArthur. Our President is
just a nincompoop. If you could have been here and heard McA talk, you would have been won by his
voice and words... [Truman' should go back to the farm & raise tomatoes...
Thanks for the description of frontier life in your letter. I have read it to several of my
friends & they all said, "God bless you and protect you."
... Hope this finds you well and strong and hopeful... - Lovingly, Grandma [Janes]
(I think June 8, 1951) [In the next few letters, the dates are confused.]
I'm trying hard to get this letter started but interruptions keep coming up. I just wrote the
draft board to let them know where I am in case they need me. Ha! Ha! [I had received a notice
to appear before the Draft Board of Columbus, Ohio.]
We got our hot chow this morning, all right. After wading two rivers, walking a mile and standing
in line for two hours. It was good, tho. Had 3 hotcakes and two razor blade eggs with plenty
of "butter" and jam & coffee.
... I heard that the Chinese offered peace if both of us would stay behind the 38th and even the
Russians offered to help the U.N. and the U.S. turned it down. Sure made us mad that U.S. turned
down a chance to end this war. Don't know whether it's true or not. Seems funny if Russia did
offer help, we've captured a heck of a load of Russian ammo & weapons that the gooks were using.
They're as good, if not better, than ours.
I'll enclose another pamphlet that the [enemy] leave for us. There are all kinds of these things
around. Some are actually funny they're so full of lies & baloney.
... It's clouding up for rain again. This is the darndest weather I've ever seen in my life.
Enough to drive a man crazy. Never saw so many different insects and varmits before. And in
such quantities. The frogs, which are everywhere, even on the highest mountains are the funniest
looking things I've ever seen. They are dark green with black speckles and bright red toenails.
Like to have scared the pants off of me the first time I saw one. They hop in your shelters, sleep
with you at night, and hide in your shoes. Just raise hell in general. On quiet nights they
sing and argue with each other like crazy. They're a pretty good alarm, tho, when they stop
croaking, we start looking.
Saw a lot of my buddies I went through Pendleton with. I was worried about them because this
regiment has hit the stuff all over... one I saw was Seagrave...
Our replacements just came in. I used to like to snow the new men, but anymore I just keep my
mouth shut. They'll find out what it's like before long.
Write and tell mom to tell Lois that [...]got wounded. He caught one right through the cheeks of
his rear end...
Changed my mind about what kind of a guy makes a good combat marine. A guy that horses around and
cuts-up all the time and doesn't give a darn about anything, makes the best fighter. Me, I ain't
worth a damn because I take things serious and won't take chances because I've got too much to live for.
No-siree, I let the goof-offs do all the chance-taking. [So don't worry.]
Sure am getting my belly full of this war. Sick of it. Dread going back on line. Oh
well, with help from God I'll see it through.
Too cold to go swimming today, so I didn't make it. Haven't showered yet, either, so I guess I'd
better before I scare the new [replacements] to death...
Heard from Pop Gauggel again the other day but the rain ruined it so I can't send it...
Am sleeping in a rice paddy now and the flies are as thick as ever. They almost carried off my
carbine this morning, but I caught them just in time. A wittle itty butterflie just drifted by and
said to tell you hello...
One thing I'm going to try to keep as a souvenir is my air panel. That's a bright-colored piece
of good cloth which we put out so the fly-fly boys know that we're friendly troops. It would make an
awful good bandanna for you.
Got to go now to get me some clean dungarees, I hope. Just got a brand new pair of pants.
Whee! When I took the others off, they ran and jumped in a hole by the gun screaming, "Where are
they, where are they!" Still got my crummy jacket, it wasn't torn so I couldn't get a new one...
... God bring us together again very soon...
Your scatter-brained husaban! - Bob
I think June 8 (Fr), 1951 same day
Rain. All the time rain. Nothing ever but rain. Went over to church service but got
I got promoted 1st ammo-carrier. "Chief," they calls it. I'm first to take over the gun if
one of the gunners get hit. Don't know whether I like that or not. There are five
ammo-carriers (if T.O.) and I'm the head of them, more or less--mostly less.
... Rumors say we're going back on line tomorrow. Don't doubt it, we're almost back to full
strength. Oh well, 2 nights sleep and one day of hot chow helped a little. This is still
counted as time on line. We're only a few hundred yards from the line.
Just got back from chow. Still raining like crazy. I've never been so wet so much.
The funny part of it is, I never catch pneumonia or even a cold, darn it. If I slept all night on
the cold wet ground and at the same time soaked to the skin and shivvering [sic] my teeth out in the
states, I'd be sick in no time. Must be getting used to the outdoors.
Didn't tell you about the run-in I had with a doggie lieutenant, did I? Well at that last place
we set up before securing this by-passed land, we were next door to a doggie artillery outfit which always
eats hot chow. Well, we just came off line after two weeks of hell and starving to death and so
marines went to various doggie chow halls to try and scrounge some left overs. Another guy and I
were the only ones at this one tent and things looked pretty promising until 15 other marines came walking
up. This lieutenant got perturbed and told us to clear out. So everybody did except me and I
was busy talking to Seagrave and Ramsey whom I hadn't seen for some time. The doggie looked at me
and said to clear out, they didn't have enough to feed us, too, very sarcastic like--and said we got our
own rations. I gently told him in the worst tone I could manage that C rations got a little tiresome
after 3 months. He said, "We get them once in a while, too." I said, "Yea, once in a great
while," then went on to tell him to take his hot food and jam it, then I walked away. You should
have been the food they were eating! Cake, macaroni & cheese, coca cola and all kinds of things very
demoralizing to us marines. Even doggie line companies carry a chow tent with them. We don't
get anything. We beg, borrow, and steal what little we do get. Maybe that's why we're so damn
good at fighting.
Every time I think of the misery and pain you went through, it makes me feel so bad. Our day is
coming...Darkness is shutting me out... - God bless you, Bob
Saturday, June 9 or 10, 1951 (next day anyhow)
I still can't find out what day it is, nobody seems to know. I'm laying here enjoying a
[cigarette]. Got your package today mailed April 25th...
It rained all night last night and is still cold and dark. No doubt the newspapers back there
start out with, "Rain-drenched Allied troops, etc." Ha!
Had a nice feed this morning--scrambled eggs, potatoes, oatmeal, applesauce, puffed rice, "butter"
milk, and plenty of cherry jam. Too bad my stomach isn't as big as it used to be. Sure do
stuff myself. My system doesn't know what to think.
Just passed the word that there will be a weapons inspection this afternoon. Nuts! They
just can't leave us alone for a minute...
It's anybody's guess how long we'll be here...The new replacements went on a conditioning hike this
morning. Ha! We're still a few men short.
I hear Walter Winchell has been making some wild predictions about the end of this war. I hope
... can't wait to get my hand on one of those banana cream pies.
... Well... I'd better get my carbines cleaned. Don't want to have my liberty card taken away.
All my love... Bob
Sat June 9 or 10, 1951 (same day, evening)
...Rumors are flying, as usual. Only this time it's that as soon as the 1st Batt. secures two
more objectives, the whole Div. goes back in X Corps reserve. Of course that's probably a bunch of
baloney, like all the rest of the stuff, that flies around here. The Division has been on line Since
Feb. so maybe there's a possibility.
...Wonder how it would feel to put on a dry pair of pretty sox and slip on some of my old "civvie"
shoes with heel cleats and go stromping down a nice, solid, level, cement sidewalk? ... Hope I slow
my stride down before I get home, or you'll never be able to keep up with me. I'll just have to
carry you in my arms, I guess. Oh, what fun!
I've been photographed by a marine photographer about 15 times since I've been here. He went out
on a lot of patrols with us and seemed to like our machine gun squad, or something, and I managed to get
my ugly mug into a lot of them. Movies, at that...I guess he sends them to D.C. and then Hollywood
takes their choice of different action shots to put into movies.
You surprised me...when you said, "If there are any left, mow a few down for me." I think I've
already paid them back, if that's possible...but for even one marine's life, there aren't enough of gooks
to kill to even up the score. I've been so lucky...you'll never know. I've seen all I want to
of this war and in one big chunk. Two months on line and I'm sick of it. I never thought I
could actually have done what I have without cracking...and I'm still fine and healthy. There are
men here that have 3 times as much time on line as I have, so I can't say much.
Where they bring the hot chow to us there are a lot of dead gooks laying around, partly covered with
dirt and boy, do they smell! Don't faze me, though. Sat right by a couple tonight and stuffed
myself, as usual. Guess I can take anything after this.
...I'm really enjoying myself today. Reading a lot of old magazines they gave us. Just
laying here on the steep mountainside on a spot I leveled off and got my poncho over me for a shelter.
While I'm writing this the rain drops are spattering and making sounds like raindrops will, when they land
on a poncho. The artillery in back of us lets go now and then and in the distance a volley of small
arms fire breaks loose where the 1st batt. is taking some ground. There it goes now. All hell
sounds like's flying through the air when those boys let loose.
... it's a good idea enclosing an envelope & writing paper when you write a letter. Usually, the
envelopes I have on hand stick together and sometimes I can't get to my pack when I hear from you so I can
answer. We drop our packs as soon as we hit the stuff, and there's a good chance of losing it...I
always address an envelope before I write to you, because I never know when we might move out, and I have
to cut it short...
Even these few days of rest has done me some good. [My waist is] back to 31". Got one good
bath the other day in the river, so I'm good for another month again!
Did manage to get my carbine cleaned today and back to T.O. on my ammo, so I'm all set. There's
more than one gook with one of my slugs in his rear-end. We won't talk about that...
It's just about dark... - I love you... Bob
Saturday, June 9 or 10, 1951
... So we the marines were having it rough about then [April 29th]? Can't dispute it.
We moved across the river yesterday morning closer to the galley and was informed we'd stay 7 or 8
days. So, naturally, we moved out a couple of hours later and are now pretty close to the line,
backing up the 1st battalion. Seems they're having a bit of trouble. But we're still in
reserve, and I like that. We got hot chow this morning, they brought it up pretty close to us and we
didn't have to walk too far to get it... Where we were yesterday was too good to be true, anyhow--low
ground by a river. I still haven't shaved and not going to until the regiment gets relieved.
We set up here last night in a drenching rain, as usual, but I managed to dry out in my sleep, despite the
shivvering. The sun came out for a short while yesterday afternoon and brought the planes out, but
they left when the rains came. It rained all night and is__still dark and trying to rain some more.
Don't even bother griping about anything anymore. Tain't no use. Caught myself whispering a
vulgar word last night while digging a mud hole and pitching a shelter in the pouring rain. The new
replacements are having a tough time getting used to it.
I often catch myself dreaming about going home...but try not to. I figure I've got a lot of time
here yet and thinking of home just drives a man crazy. All the things I used to know and the happy
life I once experienced is just a vague memory. Seems like...something I might have drempt [sic] once.
Can't imagine what it would be like to live that way again. But I know I will...
Yep, for once the news might have told the half truth. We had a tough time and the gooks just
didn't seem to want to give, but when marines meet an immovable object, it suddenly gets moved.
Never before have I seen such bravery and courage among men. It's unbelievable and I don't know what
it is that makes marines so stubborn and hot-to-go, but they'll face anything and keep moving. When
the doggies meet resistance...they either dig in or withdraw and call for artillery and air strikes until
most of the resistance is wiped out. The gooks like that because it gives them time to organize and
escape. But as soon as we get hit when assaulting a hill, there's no stopping for nothing and we go
right after them. It throws them off balance and they get flustered because they're used to fighting
doggies. Most of them try to run and that's when we nail them. We even take a few prisoners...
If a gook position is impossible to take any other way, it gets bonzaied by marines...Thank god I'm a
machine gunner and not a rifleman, because when such antics are pulled, we stay behind and give supporting
fire. I was trained to be a rifleman, you know, and didn't like machine guns at first. I sure
do no, despite the heavy load. Don't think I'd ever have guts enough to charge a gook machine gun
like our buddies have done a couple of times in the past. Nope, the gooks don't care for us one bit,
and I don't blame them.
Saw another thing the other night that is uncommon among the Air Force. That was Marine Corsairs
pasting a hill at 2:30 in the morning... You just can't get around this Marine Corps...they're the best in
the world. I used to think myself that the marines got too much glory, but I know different now.
I've seen it with my own eyes and experienced it myself and it's something more marvelous than anyone can
explain, the way marines go right into action at the first sign of enemy. I just can't describe it
... I dread going back on line. Maybe I'm a coward, I don't know, but I'm so sick of this
fighting. Fighting for no reason at all, seeing buddies get hit just for this useless, lousy cause.
There's just no sense in it. if it were for a cause it would be different. I don't know, it's
beyond me. Why even talk about it, I get going and can't stop.
.... I haven't laughed like I used to in a long time. When I get home I'll let you tickle me for
one whole hour just to get my laugh muscles back in shape. I plan on getting my eating muscles back
in shape while on the way home so I can eat our way to poverty. Here I am talking about home
I've got it planned for when I get back (here I go again). I'm going to take a couple of days
rest and rehabilitation, then get a job...get us a place to live, start teaching Sunday School and from
that first second on through the years make mad love to you & never stop...And we're going to raise oodles
of little girls...will those days never come?
... This letter is probably a depressing one...It must be the weather... I'll close for now so I can
scrape the rust and mud off of my sweet little ole carbine. Got to take care of her, she keeps me
Sunday or Monday, June 11, 1951 [next day]
Nobody seems to know whether it's Sunday or Monday, and rather than argue with them, I'll just make a
wild guess. I wrote to you two letters yesterday, so this is just the next day. Days have
absolutely no significance, and even the guys with pocket calendars can't keep track, so I've given up.
There are no such things as regular hours or holidays up here and I guess that's what makes it so hard.
... I got the "Look" clippings you sent. The boys get a bang out of them, esp. the little
notation you wrote on the one with the girls on the other side... I didn't look at them longer than two
hours. Ha! Ha! Just kidding...
I'm back to 2nd ammo carrier. Some of the new replacements were corporals, and a lot of men got
promoted to corporal that have a lot of time overseas, so that really fouled things up in the section.
One of the guys that got promoted was last ammo-carrier...and they had to move him up to gunner, which
moved the asst. gunner back to 1st ammo carrier and me back to 2nd. Oh well, "chief" for a day.
I have no desire to make corporal at all...they certainly aren't very fair about it...We had a PFC as our
section leader all through the hot fighting and he was darn good. He has been with the company over
ten months and hasn't missed a fight and has a purple heart. He's been canceled twice to go home and
is still here, a PFC, but someone woke up and decided 10 months on line was too much for any man, so now
he is ammo-"corporal" for the M.G. Platoon, which is an easier, safer job, although he's still with a line
company. I sure hated to see him leave this section...We've got a bunch of ... [new] squad leaders
and a section leader and it's interesting to see how they'll turn out in our next fire fight...
Old Sol still hasn't shown his face since the day before yesterday and it spits rain every now and
then. Just like Oregon.
Got C rations to eat today, so they must have something up their sleeve. Probably move out pretty
shortly. Was supposed to go on patrol this morning, but that was cancelled, too.
...Artillery has been going full force all night and day today. Can't sleep anymore unless those
guys are sounding off. I wonder how it would be to sleep in a nice, warm, soft bed and sleep all the
way through a quiet, peaceful night?
Got three cans of beer last night that was paid for by somebody else. Drank one on watch and one
for breakfast and gave the other away. Don't care for it so much...
I'll end my humble words here... - God bless... Bob
Same day, June 10 or 11, 1951 Sun or Mon
... Just after I got through eating a noon C ration meal they passed the word anybody who wanted to
take a hot shower could take off and go back 3 miles to Batt. C.P. and take one. So, two other guys
and myself took off down the mountain to the road and hitched a ride back. The water was hot, all
right. Oh yeah! Just as we got there the oil run out and so the water was cold as ice.
So we took one anyhow. The shock of hot water would probably have killed me, so what the heck.
After a freezing shower we stopped by the galley and had some...fried eggs, potatoes, corned beef (ugh!)
and apricots. I was really full after that...we hitched a ride half way back. The rest of the
way we horsed around, blew up some gun powder that once belonged to the gooks, and raised hell in general.
It was quite fun being away from the company for a while. I got a couple of tags off the captured
gook ammo that was made in Russia...
Issued five more cans of beer today, so I think I'll get drunk tonight, if a person CAN get drunk on
Believe it or not the sun is shining. Doesn't look like for long, tho.
We were going to shave while we were down to batt. but we got so mad at the cold water, we said, "To
hell with it." I'll shave when the regiment gets relieved. I've got a blond beard and
moustache with black sideburns that go all the way down under my jaw. What a sight...Ha! Ha!
Expect to move out anytime now. We've had 3 days rest and that is really something.
June 13, 1951
...Today, we went on patrol without breakfast and got back around noon pretty well pooped and hungry.
They had rations by the time we got back, so I hit the sack for a nap and slept all afternoon.
Wasn't feeling so hot, but feel fine now.
Got the cookies the church sent. They came last night. Been on the road 3 months, but they
were in fine shape. Tasted like they had just been made...They...lasted about ten minutes. I
ate about a dozen and the squad ate the rest. The two cans of beer I drank on top of the cookies
made me feel fine until about two a.m. this morning. I threw every bit of it up. Oh well, it
tasted good going down, anyhow...
Passed up another chance to get some good souvenirs today. Maybe one of these days I'll make
myself pick something up. Can't get in the rear far enough to sell some of to the R.E.O.'s
(rear-echelon poges), and don't think I deserve to keep the bloody things myself. If I had a way to
carry it, I'd pick me up a [enemy] weapon to use when I get home for hunting, etc. Oh, the heck with
The sun has been shining all day and brought the flies out with it. They're trying to grab my
pencil so they can write you a note...
I sure am in a bad mood...
I did take a spoon off a dead gook today so I'd have something to eat my C rations with.
Everybody's got one... Haven't seen any Chinese for quite awhile...all North Koreans. Hope that's a
good sign. These N. Koreans sure are tough and stubborn fighters.
Well, well. I believe we're going to get an apple. Hmm. That will hit the spot.
It's getting dark... I think we're moving tomorrow. Don't know where. God only knows...
June 13, 1951
After a swim, a bath, and a shave, I feel mucho better now...
I blew up my rubber mattress and despite the many leaks, I had a lot of fun floating around the river.
It was as crowded as a stateside pool on Sunday, only less modest, if you know what I mean. We just
grin and BARE it.
Had a heck of a time shaving my beard off, but it feels lots better now. Look almost human again.
Somebody said something about a movie over at the artillery camp, so maybe tonight I'll get to see my
first movie in about three months...
I wonder how I'll stand with the draft if I get discharged? If I ever have to serve with a line
company again, I won't serve with anyone but Marines...
The sun has been out all day and it's really been hot. I feel sorry for the guys on line today.
The flies are as bad as ever, and the little frogs with the red toenails are still running the place.
These little frogs are sexy things. When a male wants his female, there's none of this serenading
back and forth. He just hides behind a weed and when the girl of his choice hops by he jumps out and
grabs her until she finally gives in. Then they retire to their own little paddy and live HOPPILY
It's just about chow time...
...Always love... Bob
June 13, 1951 [same day, I think]
...Hold on to your hat on this one--it's rumored that we're going in Corps Reserve to Wonju (don't know
when) for a nice rest, then to Masan where 5,000 regulars from Lejeune will replace all the reserves, and
the reserves will go home to serve more duty in the States. That's the biggest pile of chicken
scrappings I've heard in a long time, and don't even dare to believe such a fairy tale.
We moved further to the rear this morning and still in Reg. reserve. Can't understand such a long
rest. Almost a week now...But God knows we deserve it. The 2nd battalion's got more straight
time on line than any other unit in Korea. We're set up by the river, on low ground, and next to the
galley, and are getting hot chow again. Don't know how long we'll be here...
Haven't been feeling so hot lately, anyhow, maybe that's the reason I'm probably better off on line
where I can't think so much. This thinking can get a man down. Probably snap out of it soon...
....You've got it tougher than I. Everybody here is in the same boat, but it's different back
there. Oh, I don't know, maybe some of those guys that got the "million dollar" wounds in the arms &
legs WERE lucky, at that... Always changed my mind, tho, when the stuff started flying. Just want to
live a life of peace & quiet and nobody outside to bother me.
Guess I'd better write later when I'm in a better mood. Pretty bushed right now. Guess I'll
go wash and even shave. Take a swim, too...
I'll write again tonight. I'll probably feel better then... I love you, Bob
June 13, 1951 [same day]
This is my third letter to you today...
It's so peaceful tonight. You'd never know there's a war going on a few miles from here, except
for the artillery. The sun is about to call it a day and there are dark clouds in the west, trimmed
with gold. The river is drifting lazily by and the crickets are signing their melodious strains to
one another. Even the flies are getting drowsy. It's sure going to be hard to go back on line.
I shudder to think about it. This is the first time I've been away from the line since I've been in
Korea, and it's going to be tough leaving here. Maybe we'll get lucky and the regiment will get
relieved before we have to go back. I hope so.
We've really eaten good today. Nothing out of the ordinary Marine Corps chow, but it just seems
so good to eat hot meals again. My hands are even clean. I hate to touch anything. I
feel so good all over. I wish I were in the rear all the time, like some of the guys. They
really have it made.
Sat around a small fire with the guys and relived some of the past firefights, while I brewed me a cup
of C ration cocoa that I had left over. A couple of the new men listened so intently and I had to
laugh at how their eyes got big when they'd ask us silly questions. I hope they never have to find
out what it's like. You can't tell them about it and expect them to know. Nobody will ever
know until he's actually lived through it. But that's the way it goes.
Most of the guys still have the G.I.'s mixed in with diahherea [sic] and have had them for days.
I've been lucky so far.
There's also a half moon out tonight to go with this peaceful atmosphere. I keep wondering--the
calm before the storm?
The guys are regaining their energy and vim. It's surprising what one day of relaxation can do
for a man. They've been swimming all day and now they're throwing stones in the river, singing, and
raising hell in a gentle sort of way.
The artillery moved further up, so there's no movie tonight...
I'm glad you got that letter I wrote on Betty Ann's letter...it was mailed on the run. Kinda
beat, tho, huh? ... Maybe I'll come out of this a better person... - ... Love...Bob
June 14, 1951
...I got the airmail package...The cookies were in fine shape...It's almost too dark to see...Probably
move out now that I get a package. It never fails...
Thursday, June 14, 1951 [finally found out]
...Tomorrow there is a Memorial Service for all our guys that paid the supreme sacrifice during the
I feel so much better now. Last night was the first night we didn't have to sit and watch since
I've been in Korea. So I laid awake and thought of you for hours. finally amid a din of
singing voices from marines all around, I dozed off.
It's rather cloudy today, but the sun is still shining, and it's unbearably hot. Again I feel
sorry for the guys on line today.
We've got school on the gun this afternoon and then I think I'll go swimming. What a nice rest
area. Sure am going to hate to leave.
Any cartoons I might draw aren't for the sake of art, but for what they mean...
Just got back from taking a swim. Feel very refreshed now. What a vacation this has been...
Enclosed will be another propaganda leaflet. What a bunch of baloney.
One of the guys got a "Dear John" from a girl he was engaged to...
It's taken me all day to write this letter...I'd like to write some nice, long stories, but I daren't
think about them now. Would rather tell them when I can wave my hands around in the air...
It's clouding over again and ten-to-one says we'll get another one of those miserable rains before
morning that will last 3 or 4 days. About that time we'll be back on line again.
It was rumored that we're moving up tomorrow. Just something to keep us worried. I hope
it's not true... - God bless you, Bob
Who knows what's out there
This rainy, black night?
I can see nothing
But silhouettes moving slight.
They say they're coming this time-
But let them come;
We're ready for them all down the line.
I'm ready, my light .30 is full
With bits of death
That are released at a trigger pull.
Hear that, Bob? It's them
Sure as hell!
Get ready men, they'll remember this well.
"Marine, you die tonight!"
Listen to that slimy gook.
Come and get it, rat, right
Through your lousey guts!
There go the flares! There they are!
Right in my sights.
Take this and let your blood feel air!
Air cold and damp.
Oh, I'm hit! It stings and burns
Here deep in my chest.
Don't get a corpsman, this is my turn.
R.C.J. - 1951
June 15, 1951
Just got back from school on the gun. It's early morning and I think we're moving
out some time today.
The boys went crazy over your cookies...Of course they're gone now...
I hit the sack at dark last night and dozed off until about eleven o'clock. Then I
woke up and laid wide awake for about three hours thinking and worrying...about you and us...
I've started on Mickey Spillane's third mystery book. They're quite good. Also
Will cut this short and write again later... - ...Love...Bob
June 15, 1951
It's been thunder showering all day and right now it's coming down in buckets full.
This is the second time since I've been here that thunder & lightning have accompanied the rain. But
I have it licked. I'm lying here in my little abode made out of an army poncho and nice and cozy.
Me and about three hundred flies are staying dry and laughing at the big blotches of rain that are falling
heavily down. I had to take those [newspapers you sent me], and prop them at one end to keep the
water from blowing in.
This has really been a nice vacation. Almost unbelievable. I guess I had
forgotten what relaxation was. Maybe some of my past letters written while on line the last couple
of weeks showed the fatigue and weariness I had at that time. I hope not, but it's one of those
things. We're still eating like kings, at least it seems that way. I even got a brand new pair
of dungarees. Everyone is nice and clean-shaven, clean clothes, haircuts, and gaining back lost
weight. Can't even tell us from the replacements anymore...
It's still raining hard, and each little drop seems to have a tune of its own when it
strikes my shelter. It's a relaxing sound, like that of rain, hitting a tin roof. Of course
there was a time not long ago when I didn't think such nice things about rain.
The two chaplains put on a wonderful memorial service this morning. Each man's face
showed the heavy sadness in his heart as the names were read off. Even the battalion commander, who
sat next to me, had tears in his eyes. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. He sends us into
battle. He gives the orders.
I finished that mystery...today...it was really terrific...Don't know whether I should let
you read it or not, it's kind of shady... Ha! Ha!
Imagine we'll move out tomorrow. Thank heaven we didn't move today. There's so
many rumors flying around here, it's actually funny. Everything from going back on the line, to
going home by July 1st. All I can say is look for the worst and hope for the best.
When we shifted to this sector a week or so ago, after the last tough fight, we walked
quite a few miles on a road and there were lots of doggies riding by in trucks, and standing along the
road. We were beat, and felt it. Just a handful of half-starved, dirty, stoop-shouldered
skinny marines struggling to make our legs move down that road. One of the doggies remarked to our
company jeep driver what a bunch of scroungy-looking me we were. The jeep driver told him, "They
should look beat, they've only been on line for the last hundred and some days without a break (actual
record-breaking Battalion time)." The doggie couldn't believe it. A lot of doggies felt sorry
for us and passed out chow and pogey-bait...
Ran into an old slop-chute boot camp buddy of mine back there. I hardly recognized
him with his boney face and long moustache.
What you consider a rough face, I consider mighty smooth right now. It seems funny
to run my fingers over skin instead of hair when I rub my face. But it sure feels good.
I think I'll light up a [cigarette] and dream some more... That's all I do. - Love &
June 16, 1951
Rec'd 3 letters...after dark last night and read them by candle light in a neighboring
It's still raining and rained all night. The thunder showers changed into that good
old drenching downpour, familiar to all fighting men here.
Well, I finally got 'em--the dear old G.I.'s got out [of] my sack just in time early this
morning, and kept jumping in and out all night long in the rain. But I think they've stopped now.
Must have been something in the chow, because everyone that didn't have them, got them. Some of the
guys have had them for days, and often they dirties their scivvies in their sleep. They really
suffered. I attribute that to too long, too many, and not enough--too long on line, too many gooks,
and not enough food and rest... Guess I spoke too soon. I've still got 'em.
I can't imagine anybody being engaged for two years...Maybe they ARE young but young
people have to grab their happiness while they can. I've seen some heartbreakers here. One in
particular...His name was Miller and we called him "Baby-san" because he was only 18. He was next to
me when he got hit and I saw him pass away. There was a young kid whose folks probably took great
pains in raising him for 18 years. He never had a girl and has never known the happiness of sharing
& giving with a wife. He never had a chance to know what life really was, because his life had been
run for him for the 18 years. He never had a chance. I guess that's a reason I don't want
anything but girls. Why rear a boy for 18 years, teaching him the right way of life, and telling him
what's right & what's wrong, and how to be a clean, God-fearing man; then have him taken away to war,
taught how to kill and be tough and then maybe never return?
I guess it's such incidents that make marines so...[fierce]. marines have a
comradeship all their own in battle and seeing a guy like Baby-san go down is enough to make anyone bitter
at the people who did it. I try not to get hard, and I haven't been cruel...they they say I will
before I leave here...
Got the clippings...Don't let that picture bother you. To me, it looks like a bunch
of guys fighting a forest fire...
Don't mind the rain spots on the paper. It's still coming down in a good gait... -
...love always..., Bob.
Sunday, June 17, 1971
Here we go again! We moved up this morning right in back of the line and are going
to relieve the 1st battalion in the morning. Whether or not we jump off and continue their attack
remains to be seen. I hope not. I can't tell you how much I dread going back up. It
makes me shudder to think about it...
I sure got out of shape laying around for those few days. But it shouldn't take too
long to sweat and work the grease & pogey bait out of our systems. My stomach's still a little
tempermental, but think it'll snap around by tonight.
There was a heavy fog this morning, but now there's a nice blue sky and a bright sun
shining. Once again the Air Force shows their stuff.
There sure was a hot rumor going around yesterday. This one is really rich and our
gunny will even vouch for it. We're supposed to go to Japan by the end of June, where the Division
will rest and reorganize for about 130 days, and all the reserves will be replaced and get to go home.
Oh brother, what a fairy tale that is! Just to prove how true it is, we came up here this morning
and are going on line tomorrow...
The mulberry trees here are now ripe and loaded with berries. I'm sitting next to a
pile of silk worm cocoons that a [Korean] civilian once worked over. In the house where we played a
game of "hearts" a little while ago, was a spinning wheel used to spin the stuff. Also found a bunch
of copper & brass bowls & sauces that would make darn good souvenirs, but no way to send them, so-hava-no.
Just got back from chow. Couldn't eat very much.
If you've got a map of Korea, I think I have a general idea where we are. Look on
the Eastern-central front and find a river that flows north over the 38th and continues North for quite a
ways. Pick a spot between Hwachon & Inje about 15 or 20 miles north of the 38th, and I think that's
where we are. Not sure, tho.
There's a chance I might not be able to write for a day or two, so don't worry. When
we're on the move forward, we go from dawn to dusk. If there's anytime left over before dark,
weapons have to be cleaned and then there's that old hole that has to be dug for our own safety.
Usually, we're so bushed at the end of a day the only thing we can do is try to get all the rest we can
before morning. That's why sometimes I can't write.
Guess I'll go take one last bath before we shove off. Heaven knows when we'll get by
...all my love... Bob
June 17, 1951 [same day]
I had to write you again. I saw something tonight that really broke my heart.
I'll tell you, but I don't want you to worry about it or make you feel bad. I've just got to talk to
you about it.
Tonight at chow, I was sitting enjoying a hearty meal, since my stomach finally settled
down, when a bunch of refugees came walking through. Old men & women & little kids that were so
starved and diseased they could hardly walk. One little kid had legs about as big around as your
thumb. He looked me right in the eyes just as I started to shove some chow into my mouth. I
couldn't eat and got tears it my eyes. It just got me. I thanked God right then and there that
[we] live in a land of plenty and will never have to bear these real misfortunates of war. The
people who really suffer. I gave them my bread, and all the other guys passed theirs out, too,
except those inevitable bitter few. Then later the mess sgt. passed out oranges & bread & potatoes
to them. Those poor little kids, it made me feel so doggone bad and made me feel so thankful to have
what I do. Maybe I've been away from the line too long and am getting to be a softie because I've
seen them like this before. Maybe I didn't look close before, but I did this time and it really got
me. I don't want this to make you feel bad...but I got so stuffed up inside with feeling that I had
to tell you...
Saw on the casualtie [sic] list today that Charlie Nitch (remember?) was evacuated for
heart disease & something else (not a wound). I don't know whether that's a break for him or not.
It's about dark...
God bless you, Bob
Tuesday ? June 19, 1951
Borrowed this ball-point, so writing in style today. Don't know when or where I'll
get to mail this. Back to the same old line and the same old miseries, heart-breaks, and glory.
We relieved the 1st Batt. yesterday and I saw Ramsey again. Seagrave wasn't with
him. He...got a stateside wound. Shot three times. It was good to see old Ramsey again.
Never thought I'd see the day when there would be just two ammo carriers in the squad, and
me one of them. We're as bad off now as we were when we came off line 3 weeks ago. Only four
left in the squad: 2 ammo-carriers and 2 gunners. No squad leader. So, I'm "Chief" [ammo
I sure had funny feelings going on inside of me yesterday on the way up front. I
don't know what it was. Maybe something was wrong back there. Anyhow, when I woke up this
morning and found the sunshine and a million flies about to carry me away, I felt so good. Now I'm
sitting in the shade of some kind of evergreen tree, fighting off a thousand big black ants that are
crawling up my sleeves and pant legs chewing the heck out of me.
Rumors this morning say we'll be here for several days until we get relieved. Of
course that means we'll probably move out in an hour, which is usually the case. I've been here too
long to swallow that kind of baloney.
This N. Korea is pretty. The mountains are much higher, and the valleys are bigger
and seem richer in vegetation and soil content. Of course the little green frogs with black
polka-dots and red toenails are here, too. Yesterday, during a break, I was catching flies and
feeding them to the little frogs. They would pounce on the flies, gobble them up, and then roll and
blink their big glassy eyes at me as if to say "thank you."
We got off to a wonderful start yesterday. Everything went wrong, and by nightfall I
was set to go crazy. Can't take my spite out on [anyone]...
Got my kicks in yesterday afternoon. I asked one of the [new men] in the rifle
platoon if the bunker he was standing next to had been checked. He said, "no"...I was tired and
grouchy, anyhow, so I screamed..."Well, check it!" So he ambles down in front of the entrance so
nonchalantly and someone told him to stay away from the opening. He looked at me like he didn't know
what to do, which he didn't. I said, "for hells sake, throw in a grenade before you stick your nose
in." Then I started up the hill. A few minutes later I heard "Fire in the hole." I had
to smile to myself, because I knew there wasn't anybody in there. If there were, he'd of had
his...head shot off.
Us four (left in our eight-man squad) had a great time this morning laughing at past
incidents and miseries that are funny now that they're over.. It's great to do that, because when you can
still laugh, you know you're not cracking up. There are some things I want to remember that are
funny in their own odd way...
Maybe I can mail this when rations come up today. Yep, back to good old C rations.
Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to button my size "30" pants... - Love always...Bob
Wednesday, June 20, 1951
...I've got mail somewhere because a guy that got back from sickbay saw it, and when the
mail came up yesterday, nobody in machine guns got any. There's been a mix up somewhere and I'm so
mad I can chew nails. Haven't had any mail for 4 or 5 days...I've been all over this line tracking
it down, but it's fouled up somewhere. Nuts!
We're set up where I wrote...from yesterday, and from all indications it looks pretty
permanent. We've got a solid defense line set up somewhat similar to that with which we stopped the
last chink offensive. Our offensive has stopped and I don't think we'll be jumping off any more
until this next chink counter-offensive is over. We weren't stopped here, we stopped on our own
accord, keep that in mind. They just don't stop marines. We are setting up what is called the
"Badger" line, in case the papers mention it. The papers...usually don't mention individual units,
so the gooks won't know which is where (as if they didn't know already).
Never had I seen scuttlebutt linger so long as the rumor that we're getting relieved about
the 28th and going in Corps reserve. Even the lieutenants are talking about it. Of course,
they don't know anymore than we do.
... It's later--and still no sign of our mail...
It's really hot today. The flies and the big black ants are making it more
miserable, but I'm thankful we're not out assaulting any doggone hills.
I gave my letter yesterday to little Pisan, our mascot, to mail for me. I hope he
did. Speaking of Pisan, you should see him now. He's nice and healthy and full of hell.
He's really picking up English, too. Of course the guys have taught him all sorts of dirty
talk...What a little dickens he is.
Only three of our ORIGINAL squad is left. One came over with me and one came over in
the 4th draft. It's funny how time changes things. I'm still "Chief" and I will probably
remain same. The other one left us yesterday, early morning, and is on his way home, only not in
such good shape. He had his time in, anyhow, so, in a way, he's better off.
Not doing much except pulling patrols now and then..The ROKs are on both sides of us, and
I don't like that a bit.
There's been a beautiful moon the last few nights, and no rain for at least three days.
There's a big, ugly thunderhead in the distance, so I suppose we'll catch a good one before morning...
I'll close here... - You're always in my heart, Bob
Thursday, June 21, 1951
...mail mixed up with the evacuees...It's still down at Batt. C.P., three miles from here,
where it's been for three days. I went through all channels as high as the Company Commander, and
still couldn't get permission to leave the line and go down to check on it... Nuts! Heaven knows
when we'll get it.
We went down to the stream tonight and captured a box full of little frogs with the hope
of having frog legs for supper. Once we got them up here, they looked so little we didn't have the
heart to cut them open, so now they're hopping all over the place. Hope they don't hop away with me
Friday, June 22, 1951
We finally got our mail... I didn't finish this letter last night because I had some
more digging to do before dark. We're rally going whole hog here, and every day there is something
else to dig...
It was good you got to see some slides of this hell hole...Sometimes I wish the
correspondents had enough ambition in them to climb these hills and come up to where the war is being
fought. Maybe then somebody back there would realize what it is. You wouldn't believer your
eyes at some of the conditions of _ the men and their equipment (marines, at least). We have guys in
our company that are almost barefooted, and yet, they still can't get shoes for them...
We had a nice hail storm last night, but I stayed dry. me and the flies and the ants
that clung to the top of my shelter...
By this time, I suppose you've got my letters [written] in rest area. See...?
There's no need to worry. I made it through the last batch of hell, so I believe, sincerely, that no
matter how long I'm here, I'll always be okay. You'll never know...
This bunch of merry-grab-a-(censored) has been going now for over a year and over 10,000
marines alone have paid some kind of a price. And for what? What? That's a question in
all our minds over here. There's absolutely no patriotism among the men. I wouldn't doubt if
the republicans didn't want to end now, because then it would look good for Truman. But Truman's
right, dead right. We can lick 'em this way, and bombing China, or anything like that would get us
up to our ears. If we just sat here and let them come for us, they'd never break our line (except
maybe the [---]. I'd even go so far as to say the doggies could hold out. From now on it's
nothing but politics, and we know it, and it's up to them whether any more guys hit the deck for this
worthless, useless, senseless fight for nothing. I'm going to be able to vote the next time, so
somebody'd better stand by.
I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday...I noticed wrinkles across my forehead...Did I
ever have wrinkles there? Also, in the corners of my eyes. Maybe it's because I haven't seen
my ugly mug in the mirror for a long time...I already had gray haairs, so they weren't unusual.
Heard any peace rumors, lately? We seem pretty confident that the war will end soon.
Maybe somebody should tell the gooks...They can't win. Why don't they quit?
Haven't seen any Chinese for a long time. Nothing but N. Koreans in front of us.
I think they're going to start a drive soon. maybe even tonight, we've been expecting them for two
days now. They must be nuts.
...For a brief time I live in the past... I've got to go dig some more before the
"boss" comes around...
God bless you, Bob
Saturday, June 23, 1951
Rec'd your two letters..where you worried so much...There was about an 8 or 9 day stretch
that I wasn't able to write. Please try not to worry when that happens...
...I sure have come to like [cherry jam', and I can't understand how you could get tired
of looking at strawberries. I could sure go for some right now, smothered with Dairy Queen...If you
happen to send a package, why don't you sneak a jar of that strawberry jam in it. Me & the guys
would go nuts over it, esp. the guys. Me too!...
I know what you mean about not writing in certain moods. I've written you sometimes
when I shouldn't and maybe I've said some things that I should say only when this is all over. You
don't kno whow hard it is to write letters from here. There's nothing to write about except what
goes on here...I don't think you'd like that... I'll be the same by the time I get back. You can't
live to _ kill and remain the same, or you'd never live thorugh it. There's things that [we've] got
to shut our eyes to right now and forget about later. I fear God greatly during these days because I
never considered myself a killer. Now it's just something to laugh about, and I do, and that's the
only way to do. I have no regrets about the yellow beings I've taken to hell, because it would have
been they or me... When I get home again after all this we'll just forget it ever happened and old hubby
will be the same old softy again.
...Right after the last fight was over, and we secured the hill, our company against 300
gooks, I sat down in a blood-spattered hole and tried to cry. I couldn't. It was a feeling
I'll never forget and I thought maybe I was cracking right down the middle. Maybe it was just a
climax to that two weeks of hell of which every day was worse than the day before. Maybe it was
hunger & fatigue mixed in with seeing guys I lived with, fought with, and laughed with, fall down beside
me, never more to talk again. Maybe it was the feeling of being safe again, with victory, and not
being scared anymore, which I was, more scared than I've ever been in my life. But they say that if
you make it through the first series of fights, you've got it made thereafter. So from now on, it
shouldn't effect [sic] me so much...everything is fine now.
Had a talk (?) with a S. Korean policeman last night. He couldn't speak a word of
English, and I couldn't speak a word of Korean, except a few words I picked up. It was quite fun..
through drawings on the ground, he explained to me that he likes Americans and wants us to stay in S.
Korea because as soon as we leave, the Chinese, Russians, and N. Koreans will come in. He explained
[he had no confidence that the S. Korean army could] keep them out.
It has rained hard off and on for the last couple of days, and looks as if it will start
again any minute. Last night the sky was clear and full of stars, but there was a coat of fog lying
on the valley floor. It was real weird the way the mountains looked peeking above the fog, with the
moon shining brightly on it. Later on the fog came creeping up the draws and gulleys, and by this
morning we were completely surrounded with it. Gives me the creeps sometimes.
Have found a way to make the corned beef hash more edible. We now take our
entrenching tools (shovels) and put in in the fire getting it griddle-hot. Then we make paddies and
fry them on the shovel. Just enough grease in it to fry it good. It's different and keeps us
from throwing it away like we usually do. Think I'll go heat me up a can of chow before it gets
Hugs & kisses from hubby, Bob
Sunday, June 24, 1951 (27 miles north of 38th)
...The flies are absolutely terrible. They're driving me bats! Oh well, as
long as it's just the flies that bother me, I'm okay.
...[I heard two of the new men] were with an "old salt" out on outpost [the other night]
and the wind blew a trip-flare off and the two men came screaming and crying, running like crazy, back to
the lines. The "old salt" slept through it all. They left him out there all alone and even
left their weapons...I've been scared before, and as has everybody else, but we'd never pull a stunt like
...in the last war, marines...battles lasted anywehere from 72hours to 30 days...This war
just goes on and on, without rest for anyone. Well, our _ battalion, which has been down to almost
nothing three times since the war started, put over a hundred days on line (61 for me) before we went in
to reserve for 10 days (4 days actual rest) and here we are back on line again, bringing my total to 68
days on line out of the 75 days that I've been here. But, that's the way the ball bounces...
I'm still "Chief." Think damn well I should be corporal, too, but that's the way it
That was a long walk to Batt. today, about 6 miles round trip. Only three hills to
climb, so wasn't bad. I'm surprised they even let me go.
... Now if the flies would leave me alone, I could relax...
It sure has been hot. Gads, what will July & August be like? Still rains, but
not as much as it used to. It'll probably rain like crazy when we're on the move again.
The war was supposed to end today, according to rumors. It didn't, just like all the
other baloney that floats around here...
Headquarters, 5th Marines
1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force
c/o FPO, San Francisco, California
25 June 1951
From: Commanding Officer
To: Officers and men of the Fifth Marines and supporting units
Subj.: Performance in Combat
1. It is with a deep feeling of humble pride and sincere gratitude that I convey to the
FIFTH MARINES and supporting units the following:
Headquarters, 1stMarDiv (Reinf)
c/o FPO, San Francisco, Calif.
20 June 1951
From: Commanding General
To: Commanding Officer, 5th Marines
Subj.: Message of Appreciation, delivery of
Ref.: (a) CG X Corps msg 191014Z
1. It is a distinct pleasure to deliver to you, your officers and men, the following message
from the Corps Commander:
Please express my appreciation and high commendation to the officers and men of the Fifth
Regiment, U.S. Marines, and its supporting units, for their valor, persistency and combat effectiveness in
the fighting of the past ten days. Today I made an aerial reconnaissance of the near impossible
mountain peaks east of Taem-san captured by the Fifth Regiment. I have nothing but admiration for
the dauntless men who scaled those peaks and now remain on their assigned objectives.
2. I extend sincere congratulations to the Fifth Marines for this recognition of their
excellent combat effectiveness. - Signed/G.C. Thomas
1. I want you, every man, the rifleman, the artilleryman, the tanker and the engineer, to
know of the pride I have felt in watching your actions in the past two months of combat. You have
done so well, worked so smoothly as a team that at times the most difficult missions have seemed
deceptively easy. From the initial attack on 22 April and capture of Hwachon, through the repulse of
the ferocious enemy attack north of Hongchon and the offensive into North Korea, you have proved your
skill and courage. Even when higher commanders were planning your withdrawal, you were aggressively
getting set to attack. Not once did the enemy force you from a position; never were they able to
deny you an objective.
3. The operation that we have just finished has not been easy. You have fought a
skillful, fanatical enemy, who defended rugged mountain peaks with great determination. They wanted
that high ground and meant to stay there. You made sure, by effective use of supporting arms, and
finally with grenade and bayonet, that the enemy remained--permanently.
4. Your courage, endurance and devotion to duty have been outstanding. I consider it a
distinct honor and privilege to serve with you.
RICHARD W. HAYWARD
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding 5th Marines
Monday, June 26, 1951
...Gee, it would be nice to sit down on a chair at a desk with an overhead light and write
this eltter. These flys [sic] are bothering me to pieces.
Yesterday, we went out on one of those all-day shindigs from dawn to dark..
This morning, I went to church service. The chaplain, came up on line and held
services at each of the companies locations. That's the first time he's done that, and I'm glad,
because I was critically wondering the other day why he didn't come up here with the men.
Also got shots this morning for sleeping sickness & Japanese something or other.
All afternoon I've been cutting down poor, innocent young trees and filling sandbags for
our bunker. I still must have some forester's blood in me, because it sure hurt to cut those young
trees down. Oh well, the good old U.S. gov't will probably pay them for 'em.
I'm now second gunner for the time being. When the squad gets back to par, I think
I'll request to be knocked down to second ammo-carrier. I discovered myself getting too shaken up
yesterday and don't want to take any chances. Lately, I feel as if I'm pressing my luck too much.
I just want to get home again, I guess. Anyhow, it's safer, and that's for me.
Yea, the little frogs are still around. I honestly think they're pretty. I
turned one over the other day and found out that not only their toenails are red, but their whole
underside is red with black speckles. You can't even see them when they're in the grass. All
you see is a bunch of green and black speckles jumping up and down. If you didn't know they were
frogs, you'd probably turn in for eye trouble...
...We were also supposed to go in Corps (according to rumors) reserve today, but
have-a-n0. I did read the division news sheet today, dated 25th & it said that Russia was trying to
make peace & have us withdraw back below the 38th. Oh me, think of that walk back! It'd be
worth it, tho, to stop all this useless merry-goround!
... I've got to clean the machine gun...
Your old adoring hubby, Bob
Tuesday, June 27, 1951
At last I can settle down and rest a bit. All day we've been building, digging, &
stringing barbed wire. If any gook makes it to the top of this ridge, I'd gladly give it to him,
because he's earned it. This line is getting to look pretty permanent...
The gookies was supposed to come last night, but they didn't. I don't know which is
worse, fighting, or waiting. Waiting, listening, straining your eyes trying to see through the
darkness. No moon for a few more weeks. The minutes seem like hours, and the hours seem like
eternity. Every little noise or ruffle of leaves makes you jump and strain your eyes and ears again,
and causes you to raise your weapon at nothing bu the darkness in front of you. Pretty good dramatic
description, eh? Maybe I should write a book. It's really not that bad...One of the guys got
the devil scared out of him last night. He said he was sitting there and something made a lot of
commotion in the bushes (booshes) behind him. He first lost ten years of his life, then spun around,
carbine in hand, ready to crank off a few rounds, when what should come bounding off the brush but a
little old frog with red toenails and hopped happily on his merry way. I split laughing when he told
us this morning...
It's raining lightly now, so me and the flies are sitting here in our newly made bunker
trying to keep dry.
The impossible happened today. They brought us up some ice cream. Of course it
was like soup, and we only got about three mouthfuls, but it was delicious. It was also torturing.
The guys Hmm'ed and haed, trying to squeeze the most enjoyment they could out of it. First ice cream
I've had since I left the ship at Pusan.
I am now using my "last resort" paper because I'm getting low on writing material again.
I've got insect repellent on my hands, trying to keep the doggone flies off me, and getting it smeared all
over the paper. The flies seems to like the stuff, because now more of them than ever are walking
around on me. They drink their fill of it, then fly drunkingly away, cussing because of the low
One of the [new men and another man in the squad] got into it today and I had to break
them apart. We've got enough to contend with without having to fight amongst ourselves.
What do you think of that letter of commendation Gen Almond (U.S. Army) gave us? ...He's
the same guy that bawled out that [non-marine U.S. unit] that jumped off with us d uring the last push (pposh)
and told them to get on the ball and catch up with us. By the way, that [outfit] went back to Japan
for a rest, after spending a whole 20 days on line. My, my...
... I'm so used to living in dirt and eating dirt, I don't even notice it anymore.
It's clean dirt, tho, and not dirty dirt. Dirty dirt only exists in civilian life. This dirt
is outdoor dirt, so it's clean. Unnerstan?...
No more dangerous living for me...since I left high school I've done nothing but take
risky jobs...fighting fires..horsing around with 40,000 volt cables, then molding, and now this...
Summertime is tanning my arms & face and my dungaree jacket is nothing but streaks of
white, which is salt left by dried perspiration. Known what's called as a
salty dog." Memories of that patrol the other day. Ugh!
...Guess I'll hit the sack. It'll be another long watch tonight.
[Janes Note Year 2000: "That patrol the other day" was June 25, 1951. Higgins and
another man (Art Busby, I think) were wounded, Higgins mortally. It was also on that patrol that when
we were fired upon, going up a hill, someone in front gave the word to "go back down." Everyone turned
and started running for cover. An officer at the base of the hill yelled, "Where the hell do you guys
think you're going? Get up there!" We meekly turned and trudged back up the hill. We got
pinned down for hours trying to get the wounded men out.]
Thursday, June 28, 1951
After drinking 6 cans of warm beer, I feel out of this world, so pardon me if this letter
is a little screwy. I feel like I did last New Year's Eve, and believe me, it's a wonderful feeling.
The first time I felt so good since I've been here.
I've been up since 2:30 this morning. We went on one of those hellish patrols this
morning and I'm pooped, first class. But there's nothing like beer to replace the gallons of sweat I
lost today. We went loaded for bear and had negative contact with the enemy. Wouldn't you know
it. The other day we weren't expecting to meet the enemy, and all hell broke loose...
Had a very interesting talk with one of the new interpreters today. He was born in
N. Korea and went to Tokyo U. of foreign languages. His brothers were forced to fight for N. Korea &
were killed last fall by us. His father was also killed by the Communists. He has a wife
and two children somewhere up north, he doesn't know where, but as he told me, he still has hope. He
is now fighting with us to avenge hs father & brothers. he told me he was a Christian, but now has
no faith in God because of what happened to his family... I learned some very interesting things. He
told me 1 out of 10 N. Koreans hate Communism and fear & propaganda keeps them from revolting...
...I'm having a heck of a time writing this. Kind of light-headed. Guess the
brew hasn't worn off yet. Stomach went haywire again today, but seems to be okay now. Of
course everything seems okay right now.
Traveled as 2nd ammo-carrier today, at my own request. Am supposed to be 2nd gunner
in a few days, but will turn that down, too. I won't make corporal on account of it, but I got my
We are all pretty confident that the war will end in a matter of weeks. I hope &
pray so. The prisoners we took today said the N. Koreans were starving & had no supply lines to give
them ammo. Of course they're natural liars & whether or not that's the truth remains to be seen.
Haven't seen any Chinese for a long time.
I don't know whether I'll send this or not. I'll read it over tomorrow when I'm in a
better frame of mind...
I had a beautiful dream last night...then it was interrupted by a guy who called me at
2:30 a.m. so I could stand my watch. Boy, was I mad. But I kept on thinking...all through my
watch & almost did the sin of sins by falling to sleep on watch. A rifleman called me just in time
at 4:15 telling me to wake the boys so we could move out on our patrol at 5:00 a.m.
... It's almost dark, so I'll close until tomorrow...
Your devoted husan' - Bob
Friday, June 29, 1951
Well, I'm sober today, so can think a little better. I was really feeling good last
night. Then about dark I came back to this awful reality around me. For awhile I was laughing
and everything looked so rosey and all right. I was having an awful lot of fun with the S. Korean
laborers. They must have thought I was nuts.
Sometimes I sleep soundly...and...dream... Then when I wake up and find myself lying in a
hole with a poncho over the top. It's a terrible let down, and actually takes some time to get over
...Had a swell, serious talk last night with this red-head from Glendale. He's a
rifleman and we discussed different battles we've been in together, and the feeling we experienced under
fire. Really a fine guy, and I promised if I got home before him, I'd stop in and see his
folks...Name's Paul Campbell...his address is 413 East Dell...
...Been digging & stringing barbed wire again all day. Sure was hot. Got a
swell tan on my arms, and had my jacket off for the first time so got a little red on the back.
Probably pull another patrol tomorrow. I sure hate those things.
Stand watch 4 1/2 hours out of each night. There's only four men in our squad and
two men take it one half the night and two the other half. Then they expect us to get up at seven,
start working at night, one hour for lunch, and quit at five. That's the trouble with staying in one
place so long, it gets more like stateside Marine Corps everyday. I'd just like to know when we're
supposed to sleep. Of course the officers we got now are new...and don't seem to realize a man can't
watch all night, and work or climb hills all day. I sure am bitching tonight...I get hot under the
collar once in a while.
A new pest has been added to this outdoor life of ours. Grasshoppers. Big
ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones, and all different colors are flying and hopping all over the
place, keeping pace with the little frogs. I guess I never mentioned the mosquitoes, either.
Yep, they start about dark and -- buzzzzz - until daylight. Since April we've been taking pills for
malaria, altho the danger of getting it isn't very great. Got a boost shot today for sleeping
Every once in awhile, almost every day, I mean, we get an apple or an orange or a couple
of hard boiled eggs apiece. That's one good thing about staying in one place. Even with all
this B.S. we put up with, it still beats assaulting the high, high, mountain peaks.
A guy came back from Pusan today and passed some scoop about a peace treat being signed by
everyone except S. Korea's president. But there's been a twelve day delay, or some darn thing.
Probably just rumors, but oh I hope and pray it's true. Send me clippings about the war, etc...
... I think I'll try to get some sleep before dark. I've got watch until 2:00 in the
morning... "Red" just gave me some cookies & candy he got in a package.
Saturday, June 30, 1951
Rec'd...a reply from my draft board. Very nice of them. [Glad] you have
received all the many letters I wrote while back in reserve. Now that I'm on line again, I don't
suppose you'll get quite as many. I try to write everyday, even up here, but sometimes it's almost
...What will it be like being with you again after all this time being with the toughest
of men? I hope the change won't crack me up. How will it be [holding you] after holding
nothing but sure death in my hands for SO long? I often wonder about that, and it scares me... I
sometimes wonder what effect this experience will have on me. I wonder_ if I'll ever forget it, or
the names of guys that fell beside me. Sometimes I have nightmares and wake up in a cold sweat and
shaking. Sometimes the slightest sound will bring me out of a sound sleep and on my feet. I
can't explain it, or what it is. I guess it just goes along with this life. Things like this
hit deep inside and it takes awhile to explode them. Always considered myself too doggone
sentimental for my own good.
Have been digging all day and have a red-brown back that is a little sore. I
shouldn't have any trouble keeping warm tonight.
We really made out today. We got three oranges, an egg, crackers, bread, & pogey-bait,
plus our rations. Quite a luxury.
I hear the war is almost over. Too good to be true... Getting more confident I'll be
out of Korea by October...
Hope we don't have to go out on patrol tomorrow. I dread anything like that anymore.
What dirty business this is.
I read in an old Newsweek that the army is going to make their training tougher and start
getting spirit into their boys so as to "bring them up to the Marines' level." Ha! We sure got
a kick out of that. Anyhow, they sure need it.
Hasn't rained for a long time. Season must be over. Good!
...think I'll hit the old bag...
...yours forever, Bob
Sunday, July 1, 1951
... Finally got the straight scoop on this "peace" deal. They flew some June 30th
Stars & Stripers up to us to quench all the rumors. It was discouraging, but at least we know what's
Took a nice bath in a stream on my way back from batt. today. First I've had since
the rest area... Washed my socks & scivvies and laid on the rocks in the sun until they dried. Also
had many talks with many Koreans... I'm really getting good at talking to those many Koreans... It's quite
There's been nothing but generals visiting us the past few days... Gen. Thomas (1st Mar.
Div.), Gen. Almond (X Corps) & yesterday Gen. Van Fleet (8th army commander) came up and looked over our
lines. I feel honored that the great man himself got to see my own little foxhole. Van Fleet
was B.S.ing with some of the peons in Fox Co. just u a few yards from us and told them, "The marines have
taken their last objective for awhile. They won't have to climb any more hills." I hope he
meant [that]... Division's only been on line since February, 1 1/2 months longer that's advisable for a
division. 120 days is supposed to be the maximum.
Fox co., up the line is test-firing weapons. Sure is making me nervous. I hate
the sound of a weapon going off, anymore.
Spent some more time digging this afternoon & accumulated more sun tan. This reminds
me of pictures I once saw of World War I. There's now a shoulder-deep trench all along this ridge,
about 2 or 3 miles, & it's supposed to be this way all along the front. In front of us are about
four different barbed entanglements plus booby traps, trip flares, & mines. 105's guns, 4.2 mortars,
81 mm mortars, & 60 mm. mortars have the front all registered in. What a line we've got here.
Got the devil scared out of me last night. A chipmunk or ground mole got caught in a
constatino of barbed wire and made a lot of noise like someone running up the hill right in front of me.
I was half asleep when it started, jumped on my feet, got set to fire my carbine and throw an illumination
grenade, when the thing started squealing, then I knew it was an animal. I shook for a long time
afterwards. I was standing watch & it sure woke me up... That's what I mean about waiting, staring
at nothing but darkness and dark mountain silhouettes in front of you, depending on your ears to pick up
any movement. Anyhow, walked up the line a few feet and talked to "Red" who was also on watch.
He was as shook up as me. But it was fun laughing about it this morning. Just like "Blackie"
and the little frog that scared him to death.
The 1st batt. sure is getting a good rest. They've been back in the rear since the
17th, eating hot chow.
... I never did explain the organization of a marine regiment... Maybe it will help you
understand some of the tings I write... There are 3 rifle companies to a battalion, one weapons co.
(rockets, 81 & 4.2 mortars, heavy machine guns, flame throwers, etc.) & one H&S co. (messman, clerks,
REP's, etc.). There are three battalions to a regiment, & three regiments to the division plus
attached units such as motor transport, artillery, engineers, laundry, etc. [All non-combatants}.
Each regiment therefore consists of 9 rifle companies: Able, Baker, Charlie (1st Batt.); Dog, Easy (me),
Fox (2nd Batt.); and George, Hal, Item (3rd Batt.), plus the three weapons companies & three H&S companies
& attached units. The 1st Mar. Div. (re-inforced) here in Korea is made up of the 1st Marine Reg.
(infantry), 5th Mar. Reg. (infantry) (me), 7th Mar. Reg. (infantry), 11th Mar. Reg. (artillery), &
supportive, and attached units. Now -- Easy Company (me), consists of three rifle platoons (approx.
43 men each, riflemen, barmen, 3 squads of 13 men to a squad); one light machine gun platoon, which is
divided into three sections (2 squads to a section, 8 men to a squad) & those three sections are numbered
1, 2 & 3. The 1st section is part of the 1st rifle platoon [and so on]. I'm in the 3rd M.G.
sec. so am with the 3rd rifle platoon... Also there is a 60 mm. mortar platoon which is divided the same
as artillery F.O.'s, radiomen, & so on. I forgot to mention the one corpsman (God bless em) who
travels with each rifle platoon... All in all, there are around 250 men to a company. To think we
were down to 98 men not long ago, and are still a few short... The corpsmen, God bless em, are wonderful.
The bravest of all men are the Navy's Corpsmen. And what souvenir hunters they are! Ha! Ha!
Our Corpsman got himself a Russian carbine and gets right in the fight (altho he's not supposed to) &
shoots that darn carbine until he gets that famous marine battlecry to go help out a wounded man... this
Marine Corps is strictly an infantry team that can't be beat...
... A marine corps rifle company has three times as great firepower as a doggie rifle
... It's getting dark, have to go on watch...
... love... Bob
Monday, July 2, 1951
... The F.O.'s just got it over the radio, that cease fire begins tonight. There was
a quick cheer among the men, but we refuse to believe it, esp. since...the artillery is letting go right
now. No official word yet... We'll know tonight, if the artillery stays quiet. Probably won't
be able to sleep if it does.
Got first watch tonight, so can't write too long; it's almost dark. They cut the
watch down to 25% last night, after two weeks of 50%, so I only had to stand between 12 & 2 a.m.
Tonight it's from dark until 12 midnight for me. Last night the wind was blowing and the sky was
clear as a bell. It was very cool and the bushes...were waving back and forth, and making all kinds
of noise. Gave me the creeps. Don't know what's the matter with me anymore. Didn't get
this jittery at night even when I first came over. Must be that we haven't been hit at night for
several days... Sometimes I'm so sleepy when I get off watch, and still can't sleep for thinking...
We paid $2.30 (a guy bought mine) for 16 cans of beer & 2 Cokes & 2 Pepsis. The Coke
and Pepsi came up tonight. Probably get the beer tomorrow & next day in lots of 8 cans each.
Somebody better tell the gooks about that cease fire, now they're throwing artillery at
our lines about a mile from me. You don't know how really insignificant you can feel until mortar &
artillery starts dropping on you.
... [One of the squad is supposed to go home in a few days after putting in a lot of
time]. He sure is happy, hope he isn't disappointed. our former squad leader now ammo-corporal
(finally made corporal, darn good man) has been on the rotation list three times & cancelled off three
times. He's been here for 11 months. Not going home THIS time, either...
...[Our new squad leader]...is beginning to meet my approval...he gives me jam once in a
Dug a little this morning but said the heck with it, crawled down into the bunker & slept
until this afternoon when the flies got so bad, they woke me up. Then I ate and cleaned my weapon
until "quitting time". At supper tonight, I got all the little packets of powdered milk...that I've
saved for a week and mixed them with a half a can of water, and had what looked like a "can of milk."
It didn't exactly taste like it, but was okay fur dunking my cookie into. A perfect C ration meal to
me now is a can of Ham & Lima beans, crackers & cherry jam, & a cup of hot cocoa. Ham and limas are
the only things that appeal to me anymore, and I'm even getting tired of them.
This is Red's ball point pen... He stands the same watch I do [and we talk once in awhile
on watch'... He's a big, ex-half-back for a Catholic school in Glendale. He hopes to go to U.C.L.A.
when he gets out of this man's outfit. He...came over in the 5th draft...He was a BAR man but is now
a scout (rifleman). Heck of a good fighter.
Everybody is discussing this cease fire rumor. Our C.O. hasn't heard anything about
it yet. But it came over the radio from Regiment C.P. So I don't know what to think.
Sure as heck am going to lower the boom on any [enemy] that comes stomping up here tonight.
Gen. Van Fleet says he's [hoping] for another push...from the gooks so he can deliver the
knockout blow... Well Red & I will keep on praying for a peace settlement RIGHT NOW.
... I've got to go on watch...Maybe it'll rain... - Goodnight... Bob
July 3, 1951
... Had three shots this morning (Typhus, cholera, & Japanese something-or-other) and I'm
really bushed right now. You know what that typhus shot does to me. Also dug all day and dug
myself a deep hoel to sleep in and sandbagged it. Now I have a nice, humble abode to "crap out" in.
Tomorrow is independence day. Probably be lots of "fireworks" here. That
cease-fire B.S. that came around was the usual pound of baloney. Some guy back in the rear thought
it would be funny to see the guys so happy and then so let down an hour later. What happened was, a
4.2 mortar outfit got word to temporarily cease their harassing fire because one of our pilots was shot
down in enemy territory and trying to make it back to our lines. So naturally, some fathead had to twist
things around, call up here and tell his buddies--(the F.O.'s), and they told us...
Our rifle platoon has got a patrol tomorrow & we just got word that the guns aren't going,
oh happy day!...The battalion send out patrols everyday, each company takes turns each day so we pull it
every third day. Sometimes the whole company goes, sometimes just a platoon or more. I myself
think they are idiotic right now, because they know where the gooks are, and every day a patrol goes out,
someone gets hurt. You can always find trouble if you look for it...Red is sure P.O.'ed he has
to go out tomorrow. He's sitting a few feet away from me, heating his chow and swearing to himself.
Don't blame him. The guys just don't want to take chances anymore, because we think the war might
end soon. They're going up on the same hill the fox company patrol got hit on today. Lost a
few men.. one, a negroe whom I met several days ago and admired very much, passed away. He was such
a swell guy, too...But I guess we can't think about those things too much.
We had a Korean laborer working for us today...When I offered him a cigarette, he refused
and said, "Korean Shmol (God) [doesn't like]," and made motions of praying & then started signing a hymn
in Korean...he's the first religious Korean I've met...He was a good worker...so the guys gave him 7 cans
of extra chow...
Latched myself onto a summer type sleeping bag today. Now I can take my shoes off
and sleep warm for a change. When we jumped off a month or so ago, it was so hot, and we were in the
middle of a hill, so I "canned" the other one to lighten my load. Have been sleeping in a thin
water-repellant cover ever since.
It rained just a "skoshi" (Korean for little) bit last night, and my watch didn't go so
bad. The artillery was going like crazy and I didn't wake up but once when Blackie came off his
watch and walked through the buses making a little noise. Then I sat up, half asleep, & thought he
was coming to wake me up. But I guess he didn't, because I woke up again this morning.
I'm the only one left in the original squad I started with. Two of the other guys
have been transferred for the time being to man another gun down the line. I wish we had our old
squad back, it was the best of the six in the whole machine gun platoon. As far as I know, they are
still alive, but back in a hospital somewhere. There's only four left in our eight-man squad, but a
new batch of replacements are due in any day now, so maybe we'll get up to T.O. again. Haven't had a
full squad for several weeks...
It's just about time for me to crank into the old sleeping bag... Four o'clock comes
early... I go on watch until daylight, then if we don't go on patrol, we're going back in the valley to
see a variety show of some kind...
... I'm always thinking of you... Bob
Wednesday, July 4, 1951
...I'm banking on...a peace settlement, then I'd be home...by October or the 1st of Nov...
Stopped by Able Co. (1st batt.) ... today I saw Ramsey. Seagrave is back with the
company again & Ramsey said he really looked bad. Thought sure he'd be on his way to the states
after being shot three times. I guess he didn't get it very bad. Also heard...a lot of other
guys I used to know cracked up...
Ramsey looked good. The 1st batt. has been in reserve since June 17th, eating hot
chow & going to movies. He wanted me to stay & go to a turkey dinner with him, but it was getting
late & I had to get back up here.
My ... section leader told me tonight he was putting me up for corporal...
It's awfully dark and gloomy out now and is starting to rain. Also very chilly.
I'm laying here in my little abode. This morning I dug it deeper and put a better roof on it.
Stopped down in the valley on the way back from batt. & picked me a can full of
mulberries. Then when I got up here, I put sugar & p. milk on them. Quite a delicacy. If
I'm here this fall, there will be plenty of apples & peaches to eat.
Just got 16 cans of beer, but the sipper says we can drink only four cans a day, and he's
going to check. Nuts to him, I'll drink as many as I like...
The patrol didn't run into anything today, so all they got out of it was the exercise &
one half-starved prisoner...
[Didn't feel like] going to that U.S.O. show this morning. Jack Benny & Debbie
Reynolds are going to be there tomorrow afternoon, but doubt if we get to go...
What a holiday today. You'd never know there was one...Everything went as usual.
No celebrating. The only noise-making was the usual racket of artillery and a few air strikes across
It's almost too dark to see, so I'd better close...
...Yours always, Bob
Wednesday, July 4, 1951
Another July 4th. Remember last year? That's all I've been able to think
about...that day we didn't even know we were going to be married in 10 days. The only good thing to
come out of this terrible war was us getting married sooner than we could have otherwise.
...This morning we went swimming...then this afternoon [we all] had supper out here in
our back yard. Last year remember...it started to rain while we were eating...last 4th of July was
fun because you were here...
Tonite I talked [everybody] in to go to the Drive-In show. We're going to see
"The Girls from Jones Beach." Gosh I didn't get any mail yesterday so sure hope I get some tomorrow.
I get sick to my stomach every day when it is time for the mail to come. [My sister] tells me that
I'm going to get ulcers.
They're playing the Marine's Hymn on the radio as a tribute to all the fallen men on
the fighting front. It's practically making me cry. ...I'll be so glad when you're home...
All my love... [Your wife]
Thursday or Friday, July 6, 1951
...Went to see Jack Benny's show yesterday and it was really swell. Marjorie
Reynolds the movie star was there and a couple more famous entertainers. It was quite a spicy show
but oh so nice. Half the company got to go way back in the rear to see it. We took trucks.
Got back late last night and got high on 7 cans of beer. Was so hungry while I was
"feeling good", that I ate a whole box of rations...I don't even like the stuff, but it's an escape from
this life for a few short hours...I can relax and forget about the gooks and everything looks rosy...I
think we've got it coming to us, we that do the fighting.
Red got a break today. He has been made the new Catholic Chaplain's Assn't.
The other one got hurt...So he'll be doing no more ridge-running or assaulting hills...he really deserves
it. He's going to be missed around here. There were three of us getting to be pretty good
friends, "Sol", a Jew; "Red", a Catholic; and me, a Protestant...there's no prejudice in foxholes.
I'm sure getting heavy again. This staying in one place, getting a decent amount of
sleep has done wonders... muscles (?) are beginning to form over the bones & I feel my old self again.
Wouldn't mind sitting out the war right here, which may be the case.
...Three months ago yesterday I joined this line company. Three months of the worst
hell, the toughest ordeal I've ever had to bear in my life...at least I know I've accomplished
something...That two weeks of hell from 20 May to 10 June was the worst fighting this company's ever had
since the beginning of the war...
The sun is shining brightly again and our positions are almost finished. The frogs,
flies, mosquitoes, ants & grasshoppers remain as pestering as usual.
Jack Benny said yesterday that he was in the navy in W.W. 1 and they placed personnel
according to their civilian occupation, so his one buddy who was a street cleaner in civilian life was put
on a mine-sweeper, and his other buddy who worked for a wrecking company was put on a destroyer.
Then he paused and said, "I'll never understand why they put me on a Ferry boat"... His show was terrific.
For a short while it took the guys home again...I hope he knows how much everybody appreciated him coming
I need a letter from you very badly.
July 7, 1951
... I'm so disgusted. Those clippings you sent...made me so bad... Young men's lives
don't mean as much as votes or the money those stuffshirts are making. Neither side will gain
anything if this war keeps on. Both sides are going to lose heavily in human lives...We will never
push them fron N. Korea, & we will never be pushed from S. Korea...We will be going back and forth like a
yo-yo and many more young men [will] lose their lives [or] some physical part of their bodies...What
counts with most Americans [is] losing that big business and...money they're making and the votes their
[sic] getting...I'm just blowing off steam... We came over here [to run] the aggressors from S. Korea.
We have done that three different times. Oh cool down Janes...
Yes, I heard about the Marine Corps being represented in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Now maybe we'll get some half decent equipment. Think draftees will ruin the efficiency of the
All the guys are depending on that cease fire deal. If it doesn't come, it will have
a great demoralizing effect for awhile. We're sick & tired of fighting for nothing...
That guy went home yesterday...Now we have three left in the squad, but new replacements
are due in any day...
You know we're going to have to start from scratch again? ... After this...never again
will I worry about money...
God bless you... Bob
Monday, July 9, 1951
First, the news from...here. Yesterday, the brass...met with the enemy & made
arrangements to meet tomorrow to start talking peace. By the time you get this letter, the outcome
may be decided. Dare we hope?...I suppose the papers [back there] really make it sound encouraging.
It's just the opposite here, so as not to demoralize the troops so much...
The skipper says we're (the whole division) getting relieved between the 13th & 16th.
Of course we've been told that before, but this time it came out in a written statement and last night
they came around and got our shirt sizes. (If I remember correctly, a shirt is something we used to
wear with a uniform)...And this'll floor you--after we get back in the rear, we go on a training schedule.
That's the funniest of all--they're going to train us how to fight. Ha! Ha! Ha! or maybe their
[sic] going to train us how to be gentleman marines again. Oh, I can see it now: rifle inspections,
discipline, saluting, saying "sir" to an officer, and keeping clean-shaven. All of that old baloney.
But it still beats fighting, and means a little bit of relaxation after hours. Rumors...say that if
the war ends, we leave Korea for the good old U.S. within 60 days. That's logical, marines aren't
supposed to fight this kind of a war, we're costing the navy too much money...
Haven't done a thing for the last two days except read & sleep. Did take an hour
yesterday afternoon to string some harassing wire...We started a "hearts" tournament last night with a can
of fruit as a prize...
For heaven's sake, if you can dig up a May 26tyh & June 2nd COLLIERS, send them to me
airmail. We started a mystery story, "A Shot in the Dark", and were unaware that it was a serial
until the very end when it left us dangling in midair with "continued next week"...
You know, looking through these magazines at the pictures & ads, etc., it seems almost
impossible that such wonderful things exist...
[I've been] thinking...of some of the habits I'll have to change before I get home.
Getting ready for bed, for instance...Right now it takes about two seconds to get in "bed". All I
have to do is take off my shoes & leggings, slip into my bag, zip it up, and that's it. Think of the
bother I'll ahve to go through when I get home...it'll take at least a good hour to get ready for bed...
I never did mention the "lightning bugs", did I?...First time I saw one, it looked like a
rifle firing in the distance...Then after I climbed out of my hole again (Ha! Ha!), I saw others...
...I'm getting awful fat. Must be up to 180 now. Suppose to make a patrol next
Friday...sure am out of shape.
Haven't got anymore envelopes, so will go scrounge one...
Your fat & devoted...Bob
Same day July 9
Here I am again a couple of hours later. It's been raining...for the past
hour...this is the driest I've ever been when it rained...I've got a no. 1 abode here. Got the flaps
down on the sides and it's kind of dark in here...
...TThere are a few men in this company that have been here for 11 months and have AT
LEAST six of it on line...so far I've got...83 days actual time on line [not counting] that measly 10 days
in regimental reserve...Our battalion's got more time on line than any other unit in Korea. I've
only been with the company for 95 days, and haven't missed a single day, firefight, or patrol...
...[3 left in our squad and 5 left in the other squad in our section] and that's all there
is left out of 17 hard-charging men...["Blackie"...Semple...me...other squad; Geroge Howell...B.
Ode to the Korean Frog
July 7, 1951, N. Korea
Hey, little frogs, what's da matter wit youse,
Gittin' in ma foxhole and sleepin' in ma shoes?
Yo' ugly things wit yur red toenails & black polkadots.
Why, if dis was'nt yur land, ah oughts
Teat yur measley, skinny legs.
Oney they h'aint much bigger'n turtle eggs.
Ah, what's da use? Stay there in ma' foxhole.
Yo cain't git out, nohow, witout a pole.
Youse silly little things, yo cain't HOP out!
Oh, okay, git here in ma hand
So's ah can lift ya up and on the land.
Oney tonight, dammit, stay away,
Then youse won't be trapped in ma hole all day.
July 10, 1951
...Didn't get down for hot chow today. It rained hard all night, so I guess that's
why they wouldn't let us go. I think it's silly, anyhow, walking all that way for hot chow when
we're supposed to be relieved in a few days. The guys got all the ice cream they could eat
yesterday. Sure was counting on it today.
Today, the peace talks are supposed to start. Everyone is pretty tense about it...We
got one free beer apiece today, so we can celebrate if the peace everyone is counting on comes through.
...During the days of the retreat & the traps...thought sure I'd seen my last days...that
was all new stuff to me, and I had a hard time getting used to it. I worried myself sick afraid
something would happen to me [and the effect it might have on you]...It's all in the past now, and no
sense thinking about it...
For details on Fred Bogner he got hit in the arm. Whether he'll be back again, I
Our former battalion commander was awarded the Silver Star for what WE did during the last
push. He was a good man, so was transferred to the 1st battalion [which had a difficult time during
the enemy counterattack and needs a strong leader]... Never have marines been pushed off a hill yet, & I
don't imagine they will.
Remember Weeks? I hear he got wounded. He's in 3rd batt. Didn't even
know they were in this war. [Just kidding].
...I'm about writ out.
...All my love...Bob
July 11, 1951
Got back from patrol just a little while ago & [got some mail]...Cheer[ed] my weary bones.
I know how you feel about the baby...you...bore the burden & pain when it was lost...one
of these days we'll have many babies & I'll be by your side where I belong...
Good news...It's looking pretty good about us getting relieved. Some doggie brass
was up here looking over the line. Either them or the French are going to relieve us...within a day
or two. Just so we don't go to another part of the line like we have so many times before...This
looks pretty good, because we're leaving most of our ammo for them. Think we've pulled our last
patrol for awhile, thank God. Came as a surprise because it wasn't our turn..but they're always
pulling quickies on us. Didn't see a thing this morning, again thank God. Sweated out many
days of laziness, beer-drinking, & pogey-bait...Only got three hours of sleep last night (which would have
been normal 1 1/2 months ago). It was all my own fault. We played "hearts" by candlelight far
into the night, then I stood watch, & got up early this morning for the patrol.
...Guess I'll turn over now & write later.
The guys drug [sic] me out of the sack an hour ago to play some hearts...and won the game,
which puts me back in the running for that can of fruit...
The talk of peace has subsided among the men. "Combat" says there'd better be peace,
because he just couldn't "jump-off" anymore. (Jump-off means to approach & assault an
objective)...most of us feel that way..."Combat's" real name is Busch...
Speaking of nicknames, our "hearts" foursome has picked up some good ones as follows:
Black - "Blackie", "Sambo", Solomon - "Sol", "King", "Bennie" & "King Cole." Me - "Janesy", "Dad",
"Daddy", "old man", & (this'll kill you) "Pussy-face". Still universally known as "Daddy" & "Janesy".
...Get to go down to batt. tomorrow for hot chow. Hope they have ice cream...
...Your loving hubby, Bob
July 2, 1951 [Rec'd about July 12, 1951]
I've been holding my breath over these peace negotiations...afraid to think about them
for fear they fizzle out...I say cease fire now and talk later.
...I don't think you have gotten all our letters because the girls have written quite a
few times...Write me when you can.
Lots of love, Mother
July 13, 1951
...We got one replacement in yesterday for our squad. Six for the whole company
which means we're still under T.O. for another month. The one we got is a great big red-head from
Penn. Just got through giving him some school on the gun. Had to laugh...he asked me how old I
was, I said 21. He said he thought I might have been about that, but I looked and seemed like 30 or
35--oh brother. Ye gads! He'll be 21 in August, almost my age.
...We heard the peace talks are progressing nicely. [Then] we heard they would be
called off until the chinks allowed the reporters to sit in. All of us are so mad we daren't even
think about it, because the U.S. gov't really took a good cussing. The U.S. gov't is trading human
lives for a few pictures that will sell newspapers. I'm not even going to think about it.
We're getting relieved Sunday & going to Inje. SUPPOSED to have a few weeks
...All day I've been as jumpy as a pregnant nun...Showed the new man "Red" around the
lines & explained various set ups to him & gave some salty advice... "sea stores" of past combat...
Took a cold shower yesterday and acquired a new set of clothes. The showers
naturally turned hot as soon as I was dressed. Hot water would probably shock me anyhow. Now
we're all cleaned up & look pretty for the French (mais ou!) that are supposed to relieve us Sun.
July 14, 1951
...I think my cover-kicking days are over. I'm so used to being trapped inside a
sleeping "sack"...I can't even sleep without my pack as a pillow...
...I've been kind of afraid because maybe I'll come home a little different, even maybe
physically...IO've tried...to see...if I really have changed, and I've come to the conclusion that these
minor changes will all vanish when I [am home] again... Perhaps I'm a little more crude & hard in my
thinking & ...talking, only because it's necessary , so as to maintain sanity.
...The new man...got [the squad leader] out of the bag twice last night while he was on
watch, because he kept seeing things...But we were the same way when [we] were green...
Couldn't sleep last night...so I got up & went up the line to talk to the riflemen...Hit
the sack around 2 a.m., got up at 4:20 for watch & stayed up...We had to set up line because we were
supposed to get hit this morning...
The guys are hounding me to play cards...Just two more wins & the fruit is mine...
...Your loving husband, Bob
June 17, 1951 [Rec'd about July 15, 1951.]
It's been a long time since I wrote you but I wanted to be sure you had gotten the news
from [your wife] first...I know how disappointed you must be about the baby... It is quite an ordeal for a
girl to undergo without her husband with her...
I received your nice Mother's Day card and it made me very happy...
Hope things haven't been too bad for you. I just hope and pray the darn thing
gets over with soon. We think of you and talk about you all the time.
Lots of love, Mother
July 17, 1951
Have I got good news for you. First, I am now attached to Regimental H.Q.
(rear-echelon poge) as a Chaplain's asst. Isn't that wonderful? A new Chaplain came in &
needed an assistant, & "Red", old buddy "Red" mentioned me to him. Last night I came down & talked
to the Chaplain & today was transferred from Easy Co. There'll be no more firefights, C rations,
patrols, etc. for me...The Chaplain & I put our tent up today (a big tent) & it really feels good.
...The French relieved us last Sunday, & we're now at Inje, N. Korea in a number one rest
area. It's wonderful back here... But I'll never forget the guys on line and how we lived & fought
...it's getting too dark to see & I can't find the candles (yes, even candles)...
Wednesday, July 18 (?), 1951
...It feels so good to be living like a human being again...I'm still overwhelmed with
surprise, because it came so suddenly out of a clear blue sky.
I took a kidding yesterday when I left the line company. I'm a rear-echelon poge
now, ha! ha!...this is one job I really want to make good on...
That picture you sent was the 1st batt. memorial service. It was held while they
were in reserve. They lost more men that we did on the last push--300 W. 37 D... Each battalion held
its own memorial service & each one was as sad as the other. I'll never forget as long as I live,
those guys that I lived & fought with.
... I don't think it will be too long before we're together again...
Love always, Bob
July 20, 1951
...Have been running all over the place from battalion to battalion doing things...We're
supposed to be here until Aug. 11th, then I don't know what comes next. The whole division is off
line getting a rest they greatly deserve. My regiment is on standby in case of a breakthrough.
We're right here next to __the town of Inje. It's a swell rest area... The boys in my old outfit are
doing nothing, which is about time for them. When I went over today, they had more beer than they
could drink, and most of them really showed it... I had a great time talking to them... Will feel kind of
bad when they go back on line without me, even tho I wouldn't want to go back. I've come to know &
like some of those guys during my 3 months time...spent on line with them. It's not like friends you
meet while at work...Those were the men I lived & fought with, sometimes even our lives depended on each
other. Someday I'll forget their names, but never will I forget their character & bravery & the
miseries we went through. I'll never forget...
Your loving husan', Bob
Saturday, July 21, 1951
...It has rained steady for the last two days...the river we're next to, rose quite a bit
& we had to move. Weapons Company got cut off and when they woke up this morning, they had to wade
to chow. It was quite funny, of course to everyone but them.
Tomorrow we have three services to give. One at 3rd Batt., 1st Batt., & then we're
going up near the line where Charlie Company has a perimeter around the 11th Marine Artillery. The
army didn't furnish protection for our artillery, so we've got to send a company which is supposed to be
resting. Nuts...Anyhow, I know the guys up there will appreciate it...I think we'll be gong up [on
line] quite a bit, because by my suggestion, we're going up tomorrow.
Guess what? A little froggie just hopped in here & on my leg and looked me square in
the eye. The Chaplain & I had a good laugh about it & then I threw him out (the froggie).
Starting Monday we visit all the companies in 1st & 3rd Batts. & interview every
man...ought to be close to two thousand men...
(Little froggie just happened in again & got thrown out.)
This Chaplain is the first one to try this choir idea. I got some of my buddies &
they got some of their buddies so we're going to start off with a bang tomorrow...at our first
service...[with] "Softly & Tenderly". The Chaplain & I * another guy make up the bass section.
I sure am rusty.
Can't tell you how thrilled I am in getting this job...One thing about this job, I have to
stay clean & shower all the time. I'm even combing my hair. Also sleeping on a nice, soft,
stretcher until I get my cot...
See "Red" often. Good old Red. If it hadn't been for him, I'd never even known
about this job. Funny how things happen that way...
...the bugs which the light...is attracting, are eating me up, so...I'll close for now.
Goodnight... - Bob
July 24, 1951
...It sure feels wonderful to sing & take part in church activities again...
...Chaplain told me today that I was smiling a lot more than when I first joined him.
And I'm not near as nervous as I used to be. Don't stand any watch at all at night, so get a full
night's sleep on a nice, soft stretcher. Am just getting back to normal again. Found out how
really stagnant my mind had gotten. When I first joined the Chaplain I could hardly talk & think
straight or intelligently. Had also forgotten a lot of common courtesies, too...I guess that's a
result of too much, too many, & not enough. Heaven knows what I'd be like if I put any more months
on line, so I'm certainly lucky.
...it looks as if the Chinese are preparing for something big, but...we aren't stopping
all of OUR preparations, either...
...four Marine Corps jets flew over us about 100 feet from the ground doing barrel rolls &
such. Quite a spectacle...
Guess now that I'm off the line I won't have much to write about. What I'm doing now
doesn't sound so interesting, but it is, believe me.
...Goodnight... - Bob
July 14 1951 [Rec'd about July 24, 1951]
...You probably know by this time that Lois had her baby on July 5. Another
boy--! ...We were with her when she was coming out of the anesthetic and the first thing she said to me
was, "Did you get a letter from Bobby?" I remember when she had her appendix out she kept crying
because you were in California. So you see your family has you on their minds all the time...Now,
the doctor tells Betty Anne she may go to the hospital any minute...
...I don't mind telling you I've had many sleepless nights in the past few months...I
carry your letters around until they are almost worn out...Every conversation starts with "Any mail from
Bobby...?" ...If we get the war over, get Betty Anne's baby here, and get you back home--then I'm
going to start living again.
We have all been hoping these peace talks mean something...So take care of yourself as
much as possible...
Lots of love from all, Mother
18 June 1951
[Janes Note Year 2000: Had received a notice from draft board to report for physical in
Columbus, Ohio. Wrote back & said I'd love to, but was currently too busy. They wrote this in
return & sent a can of candy for my 21st birthday.]
PFC Robert C. Janes U.S.M.C.R.
E-2-5, 5th Marine 1st Div FMF
c/o F.P.O. San Francisco, California
Your letter is very much appreciated by this board and we assure you your records are
up to date. This is your Board of Registration and all changes in status which you have given us
have been recorded.
We are very appreciative of the service you and your comrades are rendering our country
and we pray for your welfare and safety.
According to our records here, you will soon reach your 21st birthday. We wish
you could spend it as you would wish to--here with your wife and your family.
We are mailing a small gift to you under separate cover and hope it will reach you in
time for your birthday--to brighten the occasion in a small way.
Thank you again for writing and we would appreciate hearing from you again.
Sincerely yours - For the Board:
(Mrs.) Delia Wagner, Clerk
Friday, July 27, 1951 Inje, N. Korea
...Twenty-one yesterday & don't feel too different except now I can go into a bar & buy a
drink without turning red. All I lack is a bar...
Have been quite busy lately...Interviewed 500 [men] today and boy does that wear you
out...but it's fun meeting people & laughing again...Can now talk & laugh & carry on like I used to...
Met the Battalion C.O. personally the other day...
...I can hardly believe how much better I feel & look now. I'm even using Vitalis on
my hair now...Shave and bathe everyday, keep my dungarees sparkling clean, & just live & feel like a human
The Chaplain tells me I yell out in my sleep once in awhile. I hope I get over that
before I get home. Every now & then, an experience comes back in a dream.
The Chaplain is a swell guy...
That package from the draft board came the day before my birthday. It was two cans
of candy. Nice of them, huh?...
Saw a movie the night before last (2nd in 4 months)...It was quite funny.
...Time seems to be going so slow...All the officers are very optimistic about this peace
Saturday, July 28, 1951
Another busy day just about gone, and another one coming up tomorrow...we have services to
give all over between here & the line... Monday morning is a memorial service for a boy who was
accidentally shot with a .45 nine days ago. I was there with him when he died, the Chaplain & I...my
new job is keeping me busy, and I love it...
The line troopers are now on a training schedule & run problems & such in the morning and
have the afternoon to "crap out". They're learning how to assault fortified positions & how to live
in the field. Ha! Ha! That sure tickles them. I don't get to participate, poor me.
A marine just rode up on a donkey expecting to see a movie. Sure see some funny
things over here...
We're moving out in a couple of weeks. Anybody's guess where, but I've got a good
idea. I feel sorry for the line companies. Howe we all pray this war will end soon...
Sunday, July 29, 1951
...gave all our services...running all over in a jeep, up and down all over dust, winding
mountain roads...tired...[but] not that weary, fatigued, done-in feeling like [I] experienced on line.
...Back here, life is so much easier...living like a [human being] again. Up on line
all actions & talk were strictly war & hell & I wouldn't have wanted [anyone] to listen or see or share
that kind of a miserable life...
...Would never have taken the physical & mental shellacking of combat without...faith...
...I'm getting fat...Can't even wear a pistol belt...to hang on my hips [like when] I was
on line. My 32" dungarees even fit...not too long ago a 30" used to sag on me.
See lots of buddies...they were all split up when we hit Korea. Still haven't heard
or seen anything of Sims. I'm worried about him...I saw a Donald Sims on the casualty list & don't
know whether...it was him. Hope not.
...Seagrave, by the way, caught a couple of slugs a couple months (or less) ago & looks
just terrible now. I've never seen him so skinny. That's the way it goes...
Haven't seen my old friends the little froggies for a long time. Guess they only
cater to line troopers.
...Goodnight, dearest - Bob
July 30, 1951
...We were supposed to have a memorial for the kid who was accidentally shot last week,
but postponed it because one of the guys in our Bible class was KIA today on a patrol...What a shame, sure
am thankful I don't have to do that kind of stuff anymore.
...I haven't been further south than Inje, N. Korea since May 22. But maybe one of
these months I'll make it.
...Going to the movies tonight... - Love, Bob
August 1, 1951
...We had ice cream for dinner today & had three helpings...The chow varies from...bad &
not so good, but I GUESS it's better than C-rations...
...In the distance the old familiar sound of rifle & machine gun fire is coming from the
range that marines are becoming familiar with their weapons on. (Ha! Ha!)
I still like my job immensely...I don't like the atmosphere here, tho. Same old
"crotch" (marine Corps) [stuff]...I might even...ship back to a line company where the MEN are...Just
kidding...I go visit the guys in my old outfit now & then & still get a warm welcome...I miss those old
boys in the company & sometimes...I wish I were back there...Sure going to hate to see those guys go back
on line, if they have to...
What I'd like to know is, what happens to the hundreds of replacements that come over here
every month? They sure don't get to the line companies...
Next Sunday I begin my 5th month in this rat hole. Sometimes it seems as though it
has gone fast, then...most of the time, it seems like years...
Sure have improved my language since living with the Chaplain. Ha! Ha!
...with all my heart, - Bob
July 18, 1951 [Rec'd about August 1, 1951]
Hi sweetie pie! How ya be?
Well something new has been added. I had the baby July 5...The only part that
looks like me is his BIG FEET...of course, he cries all night and sleeps all day...
...I can't get used to the fact that I'm a mother...
Betty Anne went to the hospital this morning...false labor.
In case I don't get out to get you a card, Happy Birthday!
Love ya lots, Lois
Thursday, Aug. 2, 1951
At least I can keep track of the dates at this job.
Easy Company went up to protect our artillery, so I have to wait until the mail gets
transferred before I get it...no mail for another week. Nuts.
The 2nd Batt. Chaplain's asst. & I rode up to the 11th marines about 2 miles from the
front today...we had a nice ride in a nice open jeep in a nice hot sun with a nice temperature of 111
[degrees]... Sure am thankful I'm not out running ridges.
Some of the line companies had night problems tonight...glad I don't have to put up with
My spec. no. is now officially changed...Second time it's been changed since I've been
here...Started out as a rifleman, then machine gunner, & now... [Chaplain's Asst.]...a real break...
I'm getting awfully fat & healthy...people are going to think I've been on a vacation in
Florida...If you could have seen me around the 1st of June, you'd never have recognized me. It's
almost unbelievable the good change that has come over the men in my old outfit. Sure would hate to
see those guys go back on line...
It's just about lights out...I even get my teeth brushed every night & sleep with only my
shorts on. Seems wonderful...I'm a human being again...
All my love... Bob
Friday, Aug 3, 1951
...bugs swarming around the lamp are driving me crazy...[used] an insect bomb, but they
are as allergic to that stuff as marines are to beer...
Tomorrow is a battalion inspection...they're a pain in the neck...getting just like
As usual, there are a bunch of guys in here. It's a nice place for them to come...
See good old "Red" all the time...You know, if it weren't for him, I'd still be a
rip-roaring, bloody, bloomin' machine gunner... I'm a very lucky marine...
All my love... Bob
Saturday, August 4, 1951
It rained like the devil through [the movie tonight] but...have been mucho wetter
I've never had it so good since I've been in the Corps...Maybe if I'd never been on line,
I wouldn't appreciate this so much. Sometimes I feel a little guilty...I'll never forget how it was
on line...Those are the men, everyone a hero, & I'll remember all my life what the real marine goes
through. Only one man can talk intelligently...of what war is, & that's the line trooper...
Have plenty of all kinds of gear. The Red Cross gives us things to distribute among
Your most devoted hubby, Bob
Sunday, August 5, 1951
... As to your question about Sims, haven't heard hide nor hair of him. He's in the
7th Marines...the good old fighting fifth was last to leave the line after losing most of there [sic] men
& gaining most of the ground...we already know [we're the best]...The next best is the 7th [marines], they
were responsible for the breakthrough at Hwachon...[they] passed through us, broke through, & then we
passed through them, & they went back in reserve...& while the peace talks were going on, the 1st & 2nd
batt., 5th marines were assaulting hills & took an expensive beating, but still kept on taking hill after
hill. The 9th draft that joined us is almost exterminated! They sure stepped into the stuff.
Glad I had a little time to get indoctrinated [sic] before I stepped into it. Everyday I discover
one of the guys I came over with won't be going back...it's a shock because some were such darn good guys.
Not many of us 7th Draft left, either. But that's the way it goes...
Yes, the whole division is off line, except the 11th marines [artillery]...the
5th...finish...training...August 18th...& where we go after that is anybody's guess...
I hear peace talks have all but quit...When those guys go back on line, I'll be with them
in spirit. I know what they'll be going through & sure hate to see them go back up there...
The Chaplain...was telling me [yesterday] what I looked like when I first talked to him.
It was funny...
...If I ever had to go back up there again, I'm afraid it'd just about do me out.
Twice I came close to snapping at the brain. One night on a force march walking out of one of the
traps last April, 1st of May, I let loose, but that was more fatigue & nerves than anything else.
Started screaming like an ape, for a break, a rest, or something. We walked, almost running down the
road to Chunchon without a break, but we kept on going. Jim Bannon, the gunner at the time, stopped,
rested his head on the gun & started crying, "How long, how much more can we take, why don't they let us
alone..." He kept mumbling that. We were carrying hellish loads, I guess that's what did it,
plus the sleepless...nights of fighting the way out. Just when you think you're finished,
something...happens to lift you up a little. We finally got to the trucks in the wee hours that
morning & they took us at top speed through Chunchon...was new then & things hit me more. Jim & I &
the rest of the squad (Smitty) that's left of those 7 men that made up the original squad & witnessed the
blowing of our stacks, have sat around many a lonely night & laughed at that. It's funny now.
Guess Jim & Smitty are the only ones left in the squad I started with last April 5th. Back in those
days seems like a million years ago, & are so mixed up in my mind...it seems now like one long nightmare.
The 2nd time I just about popped...we held up a whole day on that ridge & delivered supporting fire for
the 1st Batt. who was having much trouble on the next ridge over. The box cars dropped plenty of
chow, & we really got our fill of C-rations after starving to death for three nightmarish days...Don't
guess you'll ever know what dear old hubby has done...I won't have to shoot at anymore people [now].
...Maybe I'll be a better, stronger person now, & no doubt more broad-minded. Was
getting too old too fast. Thank God it's over...
[Janes Note Year 2000: When we held up on that ridge to deliver supporting fire for Able
Company (First Battalion, 5th Marines) who were struggling to take their objective on the next ridge, Marine
Corsairs suddenly dove out of the sky to bomb, strafe, and drop napalm, mistaking them for the enemy.
It was almost more than I could take to see that. In recent years, I have been in steady contact with
Jim Mortensen of Vacaville, California. We had gone through Pendleton together, but got separated when
we reached Korea. He went to A-1-5, and was there when the Corsairs attacked. He said that there
had been a mix-up between the "spotter plane" and the people laying out the "air panels", which were
supposed to designate our troops from the enemy. He also said that miraculously, there were few
casualties from the error.]
Monday, August 6, 1951
...If you write [our Pendleton friends] Jim & Pat again, here are some guys he might
remember: Cpl. Damon, Helms, Moody, Hightower, Miller, Swisher, Pap, DePallis & some others...that won't
ever coming back again. Those guys were all in our company back in the states. I was with
Hightower when he got hit. A real guy. He...knocked out a heavy and Namboo (light) machine gun
by himself, but failed to see a gook to the right of him...He went fast, tho. His wife was due to
have a baby any day then. That was last June. He got the Navy Cross. I also saw baby-san
Miller pass away. He was lying right next to me when he got hit. Swisher passed away a minute
after he got it. DePallis was singing, "I'm Going to Love You for the Rest of My Days" when he went
down. Heaven knows how many are left that went to the 7th marines.
Seagrave was wounded, returned to duty...Pettigrew...Brewer [were wounded mentally, it is
said'. Mortenson got a purple heart. Charlie Nitche turned in with a bad heart. Helms
was the guy that drove a...Oldsmobile at Pendleton. Andy Anderson was on the other side of me the
same day Miller got it...I bandaged for him...Cpl. Holmes is in 3/5, Ramsey is in Able Co...Cpl. Kidd is a
light machine gunner in Baker Co., Weeks was evacuated...Whitley is in anti-tanks. Propes, Garrett,
Stringer & Pisci are back in the rear...Rogers is in 60mm mortars in Easy Co. Nannetti is a BAR-man
in Baker Co. Taulkan is a squad leader in Baker Co. Sure would like to know where Sims
is...That's all I can think of right now.
...If the regiment goes back on line again, [the Chaplain & I] travel with the furthest
forward aid station...messy sometimes, but that doesn't bother me so much anymore.
...Nothing at all to worry about.
Wednesday, August 8, 1951
...I just found out that Nationalist China invaded Red China. My, my, now they've
stuck their foot into the soup...
Took a nice hot shower today & a dip in the river. It sure did feel good. Will
never take those things for granted anymore.
...[There's a Corpsman...in the tent next door...who knows [your family]...His name is
Jack Vandenberg...just came off a line company (Able) & is now with Batt. Aid Station...
...see you in my dreams...Bob
Thursday, August 9, 1951
...now serving...1st & 2nd [Batts.]...It'll be good to be back with my old outfit again...
I never realized how much my mother [and you] were worrying, even from what little
smoothed-over stuff I said...It was just impossible to write without mentioning what I was doing. I
tried to make it sound so calm and all, even though I didn't near explain what goes on "up there".
...I...wish I'd kept a Diary, but at the time, the...experiences I wanted to keep out of
mind so much & it made me so sick & nervous...to remember the miseries that a Diary, I could never have
All my love...Bob
Friday, August 10, 1951
...over a hundred marines of the 2nd Batt...gather together every morning at 6:15 by the
river, and pray together for peace...They've done so every morning...since the peace talks began (since we
came off line)...rain or shine...I wonder if anyone back there [is doing that]...These men have seen their
buddies fall to the ground & some of them...have already shed [their own] blood on this soil, only lived
to tell about it.
Easy Company came back off outpost today, so naturally, I had to go see them. Only
one left out of the original squad I started with...Bannon was carried down yesterday deathly ill...That
leaves good old Smitty...a real guy & a swell buddy...now he's a gunner & happy. What a good man he
was in combat...We were always giving each other moral support...I'd have gone completely haywire if it
hadn't been for him...He was the first one I talked to when I got your letter that evening last May after
a rough fight...Really like old Smitty. Miss all those guys...
...See you in my dreams...Bob
Saturday, August 11, 1951
...Saw my first little froggie in many days the other night...one wee teeny came hopping
in...He looked as if he had just become an adult in froghood. Real cute tiny thing. I picked
him up and looked at his belly, and he was just a light baby pink with gray dots. He was rather
anxious for me to put him down. You know how little frogs are when they just turn from being
tadpoles to froggies. I guess you don't.
...Smitty dropped in today. We talked over old times and laughed & griped together.
He really liked my cot. Also asked about you.
Your devoted husam' - Bob
Monday, August 13, 1951
...the old familiar sound of rifle & M.G. fire is coming from the [training] range... (Ha!
Ha!). That sound still shakes me up...How I hate it... Used to get a kick out of firing, but not
anymore. Turns my stomach...
...When Smitty dropped in yesterday he revived a lot of old times we went through up on
line and...the humorous aspects of them, but... I'd better wait until I get home to tell you... It even
shakes me up to think of how it was up there... it won't affect me so much when I tell you [in person]...
When the companies go back on line, I'll be at the aid station...so don't worry...
...I'm yours, Bob
Tuesday, August 14, 1951
... Took a little ride up to the Wichita Line yesterday. Discovered it is up at the
same place where our company hit all the stuff. I was feeling fine before I went up there, but that
road & those same old hills stirred up something inside of me...
... God bless you... Bob
Thursday, August 16, 1951
...That time on line just knocked everything out of me. Heaven knows what I'd be
like after spending the rest of my time in a line company. You'd probably never have known me.
I know you wouldn't have if you could have seen me last June... Maybe I wrote normal, but... I couldn't
talk straight, think straight, or hold my hand... steady. I stuttered, & after the next to the last
firefight, lost control of my hands altogether & couldn't see very well... I thought I was really
splitting... now I'm back to normal... am steady as a rock (except a little shakey... because of the
firing today)... The sound of firing shakes me up a little... When the Chaplain & I took the ride up to
the Wichita Line, we drove right up the same road (what was left of it) my company force-marched out on
after two weeks of hell... At that time (last June) there was nothing but dead gooks all along the road.
All the hills were familiar & stimulated many past events that had been pushed in the back of my head...
made me feel kinda bad...
... always... Bob
Friday, Aug. 17, 1951
... The 1st Batt. is getting split up, the different companies going to various...
outposts... It'll be... lonely around here with most of the companies gone...
I wonder how the peace talks are coming? ... Doesn't pay to get all worked up about
... your devoted husband, Bob
Saturday, August 18, 1951
... I've cried once since I've been over here, and that was when we lost our baby, but
reading over that [casualty] list just about got me... I knew them all. Must be getting soft...
[Higgins & Buttery were also listed] ... Was with them when they got hit... Two guys in our section
carried "Hunch" all night until noon the next day, through the mountains to the Aid Station... All the
guys in the old outfit felt bad when I told them. We sure did like him. He'd been over here
for a long time & was due to go home. NUTS!!
I hear Sygman Rhee gave the U.S. a bill for a billion dollars for services rendered by the
Koreans in fighting this war. That takes the rosey cake... Americans have only paid a price of
... going to take a bath in the river right now...
... All my love... Bob
Monday, August 20, 1951
Well, here we are protecting the artillery. The line companies are up in the
hills... gets a little noisey [sic] once in awhile because of our artillery popping off. But, I've
slept through much louder barrages...
There's a dozen guys in here... We're discussing past events. Now I'm all shook up.
Doggonit! ... Everytime I get to talking about it, I get all worked up...
... All my love... Bob
Thursday, August 23, 1951
... We woke up this morning with water all around the place. Even the froggies
headed for high ground. [Even] Oregon was never this bad...
... Sometimes I feel like going back to my outfit. I would if it weren't for the
stuff I'd have to take again. Don't know what to think about me. Something just seems to be
gnawing at my insides...
The peace talks were called off, and we're moving in a few days... back into combat...
Getting more used to the artillery as the days go by. Get so you can sleep through
anything up here...
... Can't close my eyes to [memories of guys getting hit] like I used to...
There's a million guys in here...screaming...for a game of "hearts", so I'd better go to
keep the peace...
... Your devoted husam' - Bob
Friday, August 24, 1951
... The peace talks started again... The 5th Marines are going to stay in reserve...the
7th go on line within two weeks...
... Now maybe the 5th will get the break it deserves.
... Used to think when I first came over, that it would be nice to catch a slug in an
unimportant place so as to get away for awhile, but when the stuff started whizzing around, I sure changed
my mind in a hurry. Everybody does... All I got... up there is a few scars on my hands... a little
bit of fungus... on my feet... & a little shook up in the nervous system with nightmares & such... Never
missed a day, a patrol, or a fight with that good old company & came through unhurt. Can't thank God
enough for that...
I have to turn in my cot, because from now on, we travel light (Ha! Ha!).
... with all my heart, Bob
Saturday, August 25, 1951
... It sure was cool this morning... Something tells me it's going to be a long, cold
... There's a dead Korean woman in a house about 100 yds. from here. Ran across her
today when Dewey and I were ransacking houses for straw mats... Hard telling how she died... disease
or...a soldier of one of the armies fighting here... if I'd seen something like that five months ago, I'd
probably lost my insides... Wish I had a dollar for every dead, mauled body I've seen since...
... Your devoted husband, Bob
Sunday, August 26, 1951
... Sometimes I get so fed up [here] I feel like requesting transfer back to my old outfit
where the men are. Maybe I was happier there than I thought I was... I doubt it very much...
Honey, I have so many conflicting thoughts tonight, I'd better close...
... Love always, Bob
KNOWN BUT TO FEW
The morning sunrays beamed slowly down
Over the hills, in valleys dark and cold,
And turned flowing streams into molten gold
That twisted and wound, and colored all things 'round.
In one small valley, the beams stopped their play;
There, a group of men knelt to pray
For their comrades, who only hours before had fallen
In a fight to take a mountain, and now lay sullen.
One young man sobbed without shame,
Another stared deeply ahead when he heard the name
Of his childhood buddy, being repeated by the Chaplain
Who was ministering the prayer to his fighting bretheren.
In a far off American city, people were coming and going;
The streetcars were clamoring and auto horns blowing.
A lady stopped her neighbor on the street and said,
Hello, dear, how is your husband and little Ted?"
In a farm house by fields of grain,
A mother wept, because her son won't return again.
By her, was her husband, and in his eyes were tears;
("My son, my son, why - After all these years.")
A news-caster was blaring into his microphone,
About a far off war in an Oriental zone;
He dramatized a bloody fight for an unknown hill,
How American troops captured it and went on to kill.
Back in the valley, the men turned to their weapons again;
The sun rays were gone; it began to rain.
They advanced down a road and up a hill
Toward a deeply-entrenched enemy that they had to kill.
Robert C. Janes
4 Sept 1951
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
The President of the United States takes pleasure in
presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the
FIRST MARINE DIVISION, REINFORCED
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
"For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea during the
periods 21 to 26 April, 16 May to 30 June, and 11 to 25 September 1951. Spearheading the first
counteroffensive in the spring of 1951, the FIRST Marine Division, Reinforced, engaged the enemy in the
mountainous center of Korea in a brilliant series of actions unparalled in the history of the Marine
Corps, destroying and routing hostile forces with an unrelenting drive of seventy miles north from Wonju.
During the period 21 to 26 April, the full force of the enemy counteroffensive was met by the Division,
north of Hwachon Reservoir. Although major units flanking the Marine Division were destroyed or
driven back by the force of this attack, the Division held firm against the attackers, repelling the
onslaught from three directions and preventing the encirclement of the key center of the lines.
Following a rapid regrouping of friendly forces in close contact with the enemy, the FIRST Marine
Division, Reinforced, was committed into the flanks of the massive enemy penetration and from 16 May to 30
June, was locked in a violent and crucial battle which resulted in the enemy being driven back to the
north with disastrous losses to his forces in the number of killed, wounded and captured. Carrying
out a series of devastating assaults, the Division succeeded in reducing the enemy's main fortified
complex dominating the 38th Parallel. In the final significant offensive of the action in Korea,
from 11 to 25 September 1951, the FIRST Marine Division, Reinforced, completed the destruction of the
enemy forces in Eastern Korea by advancing the front against a final desperate enemy defense in the 'Punch
Bowl' area in heavy action which completed the liberation of South Korea in this locality. With the
enemy's major defenses reduced, his forces on the central front decimated, and the advantage of terrain
and the tactical initiative passing to friendly forces, he never again recovered sufficiently to resume
the offensive in Korea. The outstanding courage, resourcefulness and aggressive fighting spirit of
the officers and men of the FIRST Marine Division, Reinforced, reflect the highest credit upon themselves
and the United States Naval Service."
For the President,
- signed - Charles S. Thomas
Secretary of the Navy
22 September, 1951
Dear sweet (wife):
Testing my typewriter since I got it repaired. Thought I'd better before the next
(KIA) list comes in...
Besides c rations, we get a lot of stuff like apples, bread, juice, candy, hot soup, and
various kinds of stuf [sic]. Right now I'm drinking a cup of hot soup, but don't ask me what kind.
I think they just put a lot of stuff together with water and call it soup. It's good, tho.
I ran into a buddy of Shellhorn's just now and he said that Shellhorn was still at
Pendleton in the band. Oh brother, does he have it made...
Yes, honey, the marines have again proved what stubborn fighters they are. No matter
how bad they get hit, they just won't give up until their objectives are taken. That's how it's been
the last few weeks, and we sure paid for it. War is really something to see. You'd never
I hear peace talks may reopen. Everyone is sure praying hard. Those rats back
in the states don't want it to end, or it would have ended before this.
I've been helping out at the aid station. Been bearing stretchers, riding shotgun at
night, anything I can do to help. Have got to do that, honey. Don't have to, but I've got to.
We've really been busy, too.
I guess we're bogging down here for the winter. For awhile, anyhow. The boys
up on line are digging in and setting up a defense similar to that last June & July when the peace talks
were going on...
Enclosed is a picture of the corpsman that wants you to find a girl for him to write...
It's getting too dark in here to see, so I guess I'll quit...Thank you for marrying a lug
Now and always...your loving husam' - Bob
27 September, 1951
[Letter to wife's Uncle (a Lutheran pastor) and his wife]
Dear Uncle Bernard & family:
Many, many thanks for the fine letter and Prayer Book just received...
(Wife) and I know that, God willing, we'll be together again in the not too-distant
future, and all this will be in the past. It certainly has been difficult being apart like this, but
it is a good test of our love...
The job I have now offers a challenge... I'm very thankful for it... and also that I don't
have to fight close combat anymore.
The Chaplain I work with is a wonderful man... a United Presbyterian, but there is no
segregation over here. His congregation consists of all faiths of men, which all believe in the same
thing... His services are held on any day of the week that any marines are available to come worship.
Besides our regular services, we hold a short devotion every night in our tent and have a
goodly number attending. This is quite ironic, because we receive and are susceptible to enemy
artillery fire. When we were back in reserve and the marines were getting a rest after six months on
line, we had a choir and a Korean boy who played a field organ. This was the first choir in the
history of the 5th Marines. Now that our boys are back in the fight, such activities are impossible,
but we hold Divine Services whenever possible, sometimes three times in one day. Our main job now is
taking care of the wounded and dying.
My duties besides helping in the Services are answering all correspondence, writing
condolence letters to next of kin, bearing stretchers for the wounded, and riding shotgun for the
ambulance at night. All in all, I manage to keep myself busy with these things and keeping the men
supplied with morale building material.
The horrors of war here are un-describable. Americans can be proud of the way our
men undergo untold hardships and still maintain a constant faith in God. God is winning many souls
over here... I've seen quite a few, esp. under fire.
Yours... - Bob Janes
Monday, October 1, 1951
Six months in this damn hole now. Guess I'm starting on the down grade now & in six
more months may get to come home. It's hard telling, tho cause anything can happen.
Rec'd yours of the 19th yesterday & it was quite cheering. Well, with me, it's just
the opposite. Have been around men so long, forget what a woman is like, but still have memories to
cling to, & even they are vague...
My mail got fouled up last week & didn't get any for quite awhile & thought I'd been
forgotten. Should have known better. Anyhow, yesterday, got a pile of letters and feel much
better now. Still have to have that mail, or I'm not worth a damn.
It's hard for me to visualize all that has happened back there. I suppose it will
hit me all of a sudden when I get home... God's time sure does change things. Never can tell what's
in store from one day to the next...
...have had enough fighting to last me the rest of my life.
The way things look now, I'm afraid you'll have to cross me off that Christmas list.
Looks like a long, cold winter.
Speaking of winter, it's easing itself in slowly, but expect a big jump any day now.
Am going to pick up my winter sleeping bag today. The wind has been raising havoc the last two days
& has brought a cold rain with it. But I'm much better off now than if I were back in the Company.
Better keep this under your hat. The offensive you read about & the marines
"thrusting deep into N. Korea" as the papers say, has been at a standstill for a week or so. We had
to abandon the original plan of taking the high ground. We're in a terrible defense set-up now, &
may pull back for the winter, a few thousand yards. We had planned to take the high ground directly
in front, but couldn't do it, because the 1st Marine Div. suffered 2000 casualties (200 KIA) in about two
weeks. It's a good thing I wasn't with my old outfit because there's not much left of them.
The 5th Marines are on line now with the 1st Marines. I felt like going back to the company when
they went back into the fight & probably would have if I were still single & didn't have anybody. I
guess it was mostly from force of habit, but when my old buddies went back into the grind, I wasn't doing
much of anything & felt kind of worthless.
Of course I wouldn't be so stupid as to do a thing like that. That's just asking for
it. Anyhow, none of my old section is left up there, but three new guys who I didn't know.
You just can't know how it is up here until you've lived through it. Even back here
where I am 1,000 mtrs. from the line, you don't know how it is. The further back you go, the pogier
the men get, they loose all of the spirit & comradeship that makes the Marine Corps line troopers so
great. It's disgusting, really, & these poges will go home & be heroes with all the combat stories
when they don't even know what combat is & the line trooper who knows what the scoop is will keep his
mouth shut because it's not very pleasant to talk about. These pogey rear-echelon marines wear the
same uniforms & same campaign stars that line men do, so actually there's no distinguishment between the
poges & the real marines, who make the glory & history of the Corps & get absolutely no credit. But
that's the way it goes.
Had a little excitement when we first got up here. Gooks (N. Koreans) were getting
through the lines and they ambushed our ambulances, between here & the line & between here & back to
Regiment CP. The only thing these poges knew what to do was not to make any more night runs & a man
died because of it. That certainly isn't the Marine Corps I knew up on line. Letting a few
scraggly rats run this place. I offered to take 5 good men, preferably line experienced, & set up a
trap for the infiltrators. I'd have armed them with all automatic weapons & illumination grenades &
frag grenades. I knew I could have got them that way, but the CO, who is a green old lady didn't
want to take the chance. Instead, he takes five inexperienced rear-echelon poges & puts them all in
a jeep to follow behind the ambulance. That went over big & the gooks had a field day. They
got quite a few men & when the poges in the jeep got ambushed they hauled ass down the road as fast as
they could go. That's what kind of stuff the army pulls & I was P.O.'d highly. Anyhow, the
last week was pretty quiet & they caught quite a few infiltrators. Before we moved up here, the
gooks got back to our last CP, kidnapped three keep drivers who were driving at night--stripped them,
killed them, booby trapped their bodies & left them on the road for us to pick up. They also mined
the roads & caught a truck, bulldozer & tanks the next day. They even got back to the Regiment CP &
mines & booby trapped the roads back there. What a disgrace to the name Marine. We still got
incoming mail [artillery] & have casualties around here, but I've got a nice bunker built. It's all
in a war.
Better close now. Got carried away here, I guess. Better keep this letter
under cover, too.
Give my love to Mom & all the family. Write again soon.
Love from son, Bob
1 October 1951
Just a line to let you know everything is just peachy-keen with me. I imagine by
this time you have heard all about the beating Easy Co. took a few weeks ago. It was pretty bad,
heard the expression 'dropping like flies', well Bob in about 10 minutes they got about half the third
plattoon [sic]. It was really something.
I got hit with a burp gun, up high on the chest, damn near in the throat, they removed
it about six inches above the ol' 'knobby' hip bone. Didn't puncture the lung, but tore up the
lining. Feel pretty good, am short winded as hell, and have to breathe real shallow. Pretty
sure am going to Japan the end of this week. May go to a field hospital here in Korea, but I doubt
it. Anyway won't be able to carry a pack for quite awhile.
Quite a few of the boys are here with me. Elsie (Borden), Harvey, Howell,
Buccerni, Zeke, Lt. Koons, and quite a few others from the Co.
It was a dirty shame about Semple. Al used to get mighty pissed off, but I hated
to see him go like he did. It's a dirty deal, from high school to graves registration with no chance
to really enjoy life. There must be a reason for it, but I can't figure it out.
The one that I felt the most was when they killed Murphy. So help me, when I get
back on line, no mercy. Never thought I would feel this way. But are they going to pay.
Let's change the subject.
Saw Connors at Able Med. Heard Jim Bannon didn't get hit too bad either.
How the hell are things going with you. Not 'WORKING' too hard I hope. If
they give you shit, tell them where to get off, and that you'll go back to a line co. (Yeah, in a pig's
Not much else doing. Would sure like to hear from you. Be sure and tell
your wife-o I said hello. Hope to hear from you soon.
As always, Smyth
P.S. Be a good boy, "pussy face".
No more battles
No more fights
No more long & fearful nights.
No more duckin'
No more cryin'
No more pals layin' there dyin'.
No more wounds
No more blood
No more crawlin' through the crud.
No more gooks
To cut right through
When they comes t'decease you.
No more climbin'
These damn hills
No more sweatin', and then the chills.
No more walkin'
And fallen arches
No more a'them force-marches.
No more hot
No more cold
No more rocky peaks to hold.
No more t'shake
No more t'starve
No more holes in gooks t'carve.
Nuthin' but peace & solitude
Where's I kin set aside my shoes
And sit here peacefully a'drinkin' my booze.
Just nice solemn quiet,
As I kneel here on the sod
And give my thanks to almighty God.
Robert C. Janes
Eastern front, Korea
20 December 1951
2 December 1851
[Follow is a letter to Jim Mortensen, member of A Co, 1st Bn, 5th Marines, 1s Marine
Division. He was wounded in the spring fighting and had gone home to be discharged since his
enlistment had expired. We became friends at Camp Pendleton and went to Korea together in the 7th
Replacement Draft. We were assigned to different companies. After I became a Chaplain's
Assistant in July, Jim asked me to carry his Purple Heart to safeguard it from loss while he went back to
the front line after recovering from wounds. This letter was written on Red Cross stationery.]
Hi Mort -
Here's a couple of pix you might be interested in [he and Bill Ramsey, also a member of
A-1-5]. As soon as I get Doc's [Ramsey] address from Sib [Ray Sibley], I'll send him same-same.
Hope you are rehabilitated by now used to that soft life as a blessed civilian.
Tote a couple for me...
3/5 relieved 1/5 yesterday & things are now going pretty good. 2/5 is still
getting hit every night by probing gooks who speak perfect English. Let the people back there know
what this is all about over here, if it's possible.
Good luck & go with God.
Sincerely, Bob Janes
24 December 1951
Christmas Eve. Thirty-five marines huddled together tonight in a squad tent and sang
and prayed by candlelight in commemoration of this Holy Eve of the birth of Christ. It was a short
service with a short meditation, but in all our hearts it was deep & long-lasting...the original
spirit...not commercial & an excuse for drunkenness & money-making the way it is now. The
decorations found across this area of the front are simple, crude, handmade things that in their own
simplicity express the real joy of Christmas. Here and there a marine has taken great pains to
scrape together enough tin foil & red paper to make a sign bearing "Merry Xmas". Elsewhere there are
evergreen trees decorated with toilet paper, Christmas rapping from home and wads of silver paper to add
brightness to the tree. Tonight, men knelt in a dimly-lighted tent & gave thanks while at the same
time artillery & machine gun fire penetrated the cold, clear darkness. Thus creating in those men
maybe the first real meaning of Christmas they've ever known.
But the line companies were given an extra present for Christmas. The security was
doubled, sleeping time cut in half, all but 1/3 of the men sitting in their bunkers waiting for an attack
in force by our beloved night-fighting enemies. Our enemy is not so stupid. They know what
Christmas Eve means to us soft-hearted Americans, therefore through the blackness of their hearts we
figure tonight they will strike in force, hoping to catch us doping off. But they will have a
surprise coming. Maybe a Christmas present they don't bargain for. Our marines are waiting for
them behind fully loaded machine guns that only takes a slight pull on the trigger to send 400 lead slugs
a minute singing northward, also with cocked rifles & carbines, rockets & recoilless rifles, mortars &
grenades that can literally dent every square inch of sloping mountain side ahead within hundreds of
yards. The enemy will not catch us off guard this Christmas Eve - "business as usual", has been
It seems that every day is growing with intensity in contact with the enemy. Two
days remain before the 30 day truce line runs out. Two days & the last bit of hope for remaining in
this eccatic (static?) position vanishes. Once more, men will be assaulting mountain tops, only this
time will be much more severe. Our enemy has had 3 1/2 months to prepare his defense. God help
... went back to 5th Marines' rear today just this side of Inje & had an opportunity to
check my pay record...as a corporal I'm now making 95.50, whereas I was making 82.50 [per month].
This doesn't include longevity & I don't know how much that is. [After returning home, Congress
awarded $50 per month combat pay to men in the combat zone. I received $550--11 months.]...
Also found out today we might get a 10% raise at the 1st of next year.
Saw "I'll Get By" again today, just for the sake of seeing a movie.
The little firetruck you sent for Jimmy I gave to Chaplain Ruleman & Keith [Reg. Chap's
Assnt.) because they are without a jeep & I thought I'd give them something to get around in. Also
gave the plastic trumpet to Father O'Neill & Paul [Campbell] because Father O'Neill was always kidding
Paul about trying to get him up in the morning so I wrote "now you can blow reveille for each other"...
[Jimmy was a young Korean boy who lived with us for a while.]
Sure could have used a letter from you tonight...was just eating my heart out...& I felt
so low. Just three more months or so, I keep telling myself. Sometimes I choke up inside
thinking...but I fight it so hard. It's not good to get that way over here.
We are starting early in the morning and are going to cover the whole line (3/5 area).
That will be a job, but we're going to do it. Tomorrow night we'll have to stay all night, but will
endeavor to write you a letter. Tomorrow really is Christmas. God grant us all the Christmases
together for years & years to come...
Your husband, Bob
25 December 1951
Christmas Day. Services on line were even more spiritual than last night...
We finished 1 2/3 companies by 1 p.m. this afternoon, but it started snowing & the trails
were too slippery from ice & snow that we couldn't make it the rest of the way, so we came back & will
have to go up tomorrow or next day when the snow packs down a little. The trail going to George
Company is almost straight up & down, so, the Chaplain didn't want to risk any broken necks. It's
bad enough without snow. It is still snowing very hard & already some tents have caved in under the
weight. It's getting very deep & should be a piperoo by morning.
The service that struck me most today was held on the 'copter landing high up on the ridge
that Howe Co. controls. it had just started snowing & during the service all you could hear was the
gentle noise of the snow flakes. Even the [enemy] stayed quiet & I believe it's the first time it
has stayed quiet so long since I've been here--about 45 minutes of nothing but the snow falling, the men
singing, & the Chaplain ministering. Don't be surprised if I'm a little jumpy when I first get home.
In terms of battle, it was quiet along our lines last night. Just the same old
clamor that goes day & night, but no attack came. They are ready again tonight just as last night.
The snow may cut down on patrolling activities a bit, tho.
Dreamt about you again last night...Also, along towards morning had a terrific nightmare.
Some yardbird was choking me & all I could do was holler "Help". Thought I was a goner for awhile.
...We had our Christmas dinner at Howe co. & it was about the same as Thanksgiving--plenty
to eat. It wasn't flown up to the guys this time, but instead was cooked in the company galleys
right up on line.
...Goodnight & God bless you...Always, Bob
1 January 1952
Happy New Year again & I'll start it out right by trying to write you a nice long
The hardest part, I believe, is now over. The "holidays" are gone & it feels much
better to be going down the ladder than up. It's much easier going from January to March, than it is
from Sept. to January. If Easter is in April, I hope to make it home by then...& in church together.
But if not then we'll take it as it comes, as in the past...
Another bunch of men go home today, which makes the 9th time I've seen them go. What
Gen. Sheppard said about men going home for Christmas that were here last year at the 1st of the year was
[not accurate]... The men going home today arrived last Dec. & spent 2 Christmases here...
My thoughts today naturally turn to this same time last year when we had so much fun in
that little Italian place in Hollywood eating pizza & champaign [sic]. That seems so long ago.
Celebrated last night by beating the Chaplain in a couple games of cribbage...
Little Jimmy is going home tomorrow for a visit. He & his brother (2nd Lt. KSC) are
going to Pusan for about 2 weeks... Jimmy drew a picture of Jesus this morning that I'm enclosing.
The kid's really got talent, hope he'll be able to see it through. When he gets in his bag at night
I ask him if he's cold & he says, "No cold." Then I ask him if he wants a cigarette, he says, "no
smoke". He says it real cute & I keep asking him just o hear him say it...
Saw in the Stars & Stripes where this gal's husband was reported killed over here so she
married again then he was reported alive by the PW list...wouldn't want to be in her shoes...
Felt so doggone low tonight, I had to do something, so I drug the Chaplain out & we went
for a walk down the road. The snow is still about a foot deep & the air was cold & crisp. The
sky was fading away & the snow crunched under our feet as we walked. There wasn't much to talk
about, so we just drank in all the beautiful scenery. Here & there were scattered the footprints of
animals walking across the snow. Other than that & a few trails made by humans, the snow blanket is
completely unbroken & it glistened so brightly. Nobody dares to stray off the well-beaten path.
Land mines, you know.
The thought of spending 3 more months in this place gets me, & sometimes I find myself
wishing I'd slip & break an arm or a leg & get out of here. Yes, it's that bad.
Each day, things grow more tense & it appears like any moment all hell will break loose.
We had all hoped against hope it wouldn't come, but from now on it's just a matter of waiting...
According to plans, the 7th marines relieve us the 10th & we go back & rest for a few
weeks. In a way that will be welcomed, but sometimes I think I'd rather stick it out up here for the
remainder of my tour. It gets on my nerves back there as much as it does up here, so what the hell's
the difference. The only difference is there are movies every night, 3 meals a day, & a little
We may go up to Item & Howe Co's tomorrow if the Chaplain is feeling any better.
He's still under the clouds & can hardly talk.
Was looking over the casualtie [sic] list tonight in the Leatherneck for that operation in
Sept. & found the names of all the guys. Smitty's was there, too. All the guys & I came over
with & in my old section have been hit over here at least once. Good average. There's not many
men that put in 9 months on line & come out without a scratch. As a matter of fact, I don't know
one. Ed Kotke & Al Collins are the only 7th draft men left that I knew, & both of them have been
hit. Collins is the only one left in the section I started with (he just got back from the hospital,
as did Kotke) & Kotke is the only one in the whole machine-gun platoon. Kotke, as you remember, was
at Pendleton with us * was in my squad for awhile before he got evacuated in May...then came back [and]
transferred to another section. Jim knows him real well (he was in his squad at Pendleton) & he
chummed around with Weeks quite a bit. Anyhow, Kotke's a pretty good Joe & we're still pals.
I asked Jimmy last night if he'd like to go to America with me & he said no. Hmmm,
must like this place.
We have mice in here at night. If you happen to wake up, you can hear them tearing
paper & squeaking & everything else trying to get into our chow. One did manage to get into your
cookies the other night, but he must not have liked them because he took one chomp & left the rest for me
& didn't even tough the others. So I took him up on it & finished them up...
I'll have to close for now. I'm so lonely & blue...I don't know what to do.
Maybe a cup of hot cocoa & fruit cake will make things a little more cheerful...
Goodnight & God bless you...love...Bob
Once Over Lightly
When I goes home,
No more to roam,
And they asks me how I want my eggs-
"Once over lightly".
And when a steak confronts me,
And they ask that age-old query,
I'll just reply so bright and merrry-
"once over lightly".
When my wife puts on that toast,
Or that bacon and that roast,
And says to me, "How ya like 'em?" -
"Once over lightly".
And that soft, clean, white bed
That greets me when I'm almost dead;
I'll just crawl in and turn-
Once over lightly.
The car I'll have all brand new,
I'll climb in like most folks do,
And push that old starter button-
Once over lightly.
And when my sweet Mrs.
Wants to smother me with kisses,
I'll say, "Sure, but not-
Once over lightly."
Robert C. Janes
22 February 1952
Sohuigu (Sint'an-ni), Korea
April 9 or 10, 1952
P.S. And I love you, too.
Back to Memoir Contents
Names mentioned in the letters [*] = Killed in Action
Anderson, "Andy" 5th Marines
Bannon, Jim M.G. E-2-5
Bogner, Fred sniper platoon
Black, "Blackie" E-2-5
Busch, "Combat" E-2-5
Campbell, Paul "Red" E-2-5 (Glendale, CA)
*Collins M.G. E-2-5
Connors, B. M.G. E-2-5
Dewey (Chaplain's Asst.) 5th Marines
Gallagher, USN, Chaplain
*Harvey M.G. E-2-5
Henderson, USN, Corpsman (with the carbine)
Higgins (later died of wounds - leg blown off by mine on 6/25 patrol
*Hightower E-2-5 Navy Cross
Holmes, Cpl. 3-5
*Howell, George M.G. E-2-5
Kidd, "Cap" B-1-5
*Miller, "Baby-san" E-2-5
Mortenson, rifleman, 5th Marines
Nitche, Charlie, engineers (Iwo Jima vet)
O'Neil, USN, Chaplain
Pettigrew 5th Marines
Rogers, 60 m. Mortars E-2-5
Rufalo, "Gunny" (hit 6/2/51. Commanded 3rd platoon)
*Semple M.G. Squad Leader E-2-5
Sims, Don 7th Marines
Smyth, Earl J. ("Smitty") M.G. E-2-5
Solomon "Sol" E-2-5
Stringer, Sgt. Motor Transport
Nye, Louie M.G. E-2-5
Mellonson, "Mel" Squad Leader M.G. E-2-5
Jolly, Don USN Chaplain
Power, Bashford USN Chaplain
Pfenning, Bob USN Chaplain
The Corpsmen who served so courageously, and other men of the 3rd M.G. section.
Back to Memoir Contents
||Five of 8 men in a machine gun squad who carry two boxes (42 pounds) of belted
ammunition for the gun in addition to their own weapon. They also protect the gun and the two
gunners, always a choice target for the enemy.
||Browning Automatic Rifle. A Marine rifle squad was made up of 3 "fire teams" of 4
men each, one of whom manned the BAR. The 3 remaining riflemen in the fire team protected and
supported the BAR man.
||Janes' older sister by two years
||Russian automatic assault weapon used by Chinese and North Korean infantry.
||F4U Vaught Sikorsky "gull winged" fighter plane used by the Navy and Marine Corps in
close support of ground troops, strafing, bombing, and napalming with great accuracy. They were
directed from the ground by pilots who rotated and "forward observers".
||.30 caliber rifle half the size and weight of the semi-automatic M1 rifle carried by
riflemen. Also had the option of automatic firing.
||Disabled American Veterans
||Forward Observer for the artillery or Marine Air Support. Traveled with line
companies to "zero in" the bombing.
||U.S. Marine. Lovingly also known as leatherneck, devil dog, gyrene, and sea-going
||To approach and assault an objective.
||Korean Service Corps. Laborers contracted to carry supplies to the front.
Used "A" frames to tote heavy loads up the mountains.
|Light Machine Gun
||.30 caliber air cooled automatic weapon operated by two men; the gunner and 2nd gunner.
The 2nd gunner fed the belt to the gun while the gunner targeted the enemy. Every 5th round was a
"tracer" to enable more accurate firing. A light machine gun squad also included a squad leader
and five ammo carriers, when at full strength.
||Janes' younger sister by 2 years.
|Merry Grab A
||"grab ass", ridiculous fooling around
||Flammable jelly dropped from planes or projected from flame thrower weapons on tanks or
carried by infantry troops.
||Port city on tip of Korean peninsula
||Prisoner of War
||Rear echelon poge, anyone not serving on front line
||Republic of Korea
|Razor Blade Eggs
||Eggs fried so hard they had burned edges
||Unit assigned to protect the rear of withdrawing troops
||Personnel of a rifle platoon. Carried M1 rifles, or the BAR. Three squads to
|Stars & Stripes
||Technical order, meaning "at full strength".
||38th parallel dividing South and North Korea
||United Services Organization. Entertained troops overseas.
Back to Memoir Contents
Release from Active Duty
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT
SAN DIEGO 40, CALIFORNIA
From: Commanding General
To: Sergeant Robert C. JANES, 1066824/5243, USCMR
Subj: Release from active duty
Ref: (a) Marine Corps Memorandum No. 107-51
1. In accordance with the provisions of reference (a), on 4 May 1952 you will stand detached
from your present station and duties; will proceed to your home of record, or in lieu thereof, to such other
place as you may desire to go. Upon date of arrival at your destination, but not later than 6 May 1952
you will stand relieved from active duty. The foregoing date is the constructive date of your arrival
home and is based on actual and necessary schedules which most nearly coincide with the possible time of
your departure from this station by the mode of transportation selected by you.
2. You will be entitled to active duty pay for the time necessary to perform the travel to
your destination, based on the mode of transportation actually used to the place actually traveled. In no
case will active duty pay for travel time to your destination exceed the travel time to your home of record.
3. Upon arrival at your destination, you are directed to forward to the disbursing officer
carrying your pay accounts a complete certified copy of your orders, endorsed by you to show place and date
of arrival at your destination, mode of transportation actually used and the address to which your final
settlement should be mailed. Upon receipt of a certified copy of these orders properly endorsed by
you, the disbursing officer will make final settlement of pay an allowances to include the date of release.
4. Upon release from active duty you are transferred to Class III, USMCR and assigned to the
12 Marine Corps Reserve District, 100 Harrison Street, San Francisco, California. You are directed to
report by letter to the District Director and enclose a certified copy of your release from active duty
5. You are directed to keep the Director, 12th Marine Corps Reserve District, informed of
your address at all times, reporting any changes as soon as possible.
6. Your unused leave to include constuctive date of arrival at your destination is forty
7. You have elected mileage to Ogden, Utah which is your home of record.
8. You have elected to travel to your destination by rail transportation.
9. Settlement of pay and allowances, for travel time will not be made until a certified copy
of your orders endorsed as stated in paragraph 3 above, has been received by the disbursing officer.
- signed -
1. Received these orders at MCRDep, San Diego, California at 1300 on 4 May 1952.
- signed - Robert C. Janes
Copy to: CMC (DGH) 12th MCRD, Disb0
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Addendum - After Korea
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Schooling, Work, & Re-marriage
After returning home, I buried myself in school and working. I received my Bachelor of
Arts degree at the University of Utah in 1956. After a year of teaching math and history at
Bakersfield, California High School, I hauled my wife and two children off to Rock Island, Illinois, where I
attended Augustana Lutheran Theological Seminary. I received my Masters of Divinity degree in June
1960. By this time I had three children. I then served as an ordained pastor for 25 years for
congregations in Oceanside, Inglewood, Milpitas, Santa Barbara, and Sacramento, California.
In 1967 I took three years' leave to work as an Administrative and Personnel Manager for a
management consulting firm in Los Angeles. We added our only daughter during this time and also lost a
son (1964 and 1983, respectively). In the 1970s, I earned the MA and California license in Marriage,
Family, and Child Counseling. In 1985, against the Bishop's wishes, I resigned my ordination and
worked in the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center until 2003, retiring (for the second
time) as a Mental Health Program Coordinator. My former wife and I divorced in 1985 after 35 years.
The same year MaryAnn and I were married and will celebrate out 26th anniversary next week.
When the ground war of the first Gulf War broke out in the early 1990s, I became physically
ill, and then sublimated my feelings by joining every Marine and military organization I could (except the
American Legion). Sublimation turned to survivor's guilt, depression and anxiety attacks along with
the nightmares I had had over the years, and more. I became aware that this was related to my war
experience. When my two sons wanted to take me back to Korea in 2000, the symptoms became so severe
that I sought private therapy at my own expense. Intense therapy with EMDR helped greatly, but
residual symptoms have continued to this day. I am now aware of how my experience affected life
choices I have made over the years. Since last year, I have been occasionally in counseling at the Vet
Rehab Center in Sacramento. There are some symptoms I just have to live with. The Commandant of
the Marine Corps recently said in Leatherneck Magazine (October 2011), "PTSD is not a disorder.
It is an injury." I agree.
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Jim Bannon's letter to Bob Janes 23 February 1995, when Janes asked him to write of his
experience on Hill 812 September 1951. Bannon died three days before the dedication of the Korean War
Memorial in Washington D.C.
I will try and relate the saga of hill 812. We jumped off the morning of the 17th of
September. By early afternoon we were halfway up. Semple, the gunner on the light .30, got a
round thru the head and died almost instantly in my arms. I took over the gun and worked our way up
that God-forsaken mountain. Sent Smitty down the mountain for more ammo and he caught a burp gun in
the chest. We must have run 15 boxes of ammo through that gun plus I believe two barrels.
By the time we got to the top of that mountain we had only about 20 able men out of the
original 240. We had about 150 yards to cover with the handful of men. At about 6 a.m. John
Murphy and I were in a shell crater eating some "C" rations when a Chink mortar round was fired right into
the hole. Murphy was killed instantly, and I was blown out of the hole approximately 15 feet on the
forward side. The concussion and pieces of that mortar round in my head and arms left me unconscious
and paralyzed from the waist down. Someone thought I was dead and put a poncho over me. It
began to drizzle and light fog covered the peak.
My buddy Stan Barker, an ex Seattle cop, World War II SeaBee, who went through boot camp
with me, came up the mountain with supplies and about 50 Korean litter bearers to evacuate the dead and
wounded. I had told Stan that if I got hit he was to take my wallet and class ring and send them to
my father back in Kansas. Stan found me and thinking I was dead, proceeded to get my wallet and
ring. Since my hand was swollen, he was going to cut off my ring finger with his K-Bar to get the
ring. As he leaned over me he could see my breath, and then knew I was still alive. He picked
me up and brought me to what was left of the CP. I was scheduled to go down on the litter train with
about 25-30 other members of Easy Company. At the last minute Stan picked me up and told whoever was
in charge that he would take me down to Easy Med, since he had to go down anyway.
About 300 yards down the mountain path, the chink gunners zeroed in on the trail and
killed all the wounded and Korean litter bearers. Had I been allowed to go down with the rest of the
wounded, I would have been killed for sure. Stan got me down to the Medical Battalion in good shape,
got my wounds dressed, and within a week, I got feeling back from my waist down. - Semper Fi, Jim (James
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Once a Marine...
My memberships include the E-2-5 Korea Association, First Marine Division Association,
Marine Corps Association, Korean War Veterans Association, the Marine Corps League, and the Veterans of the
There were positives that came out of my experience in Korea. I learned the value of
sharing, team work, camaraderie, a sense of humor, and converting the energy of fear into courage, or at
least the will to do the job. I learned how to live in the outdoors. My family and I backpacked
and camped in the high country through the years. This gave my kids the same values of sharing,
helping, teamwork and the appreciation of nature and life.
Hopefully by writing this it may help some other old veterans or new ones cope with their
"coming home" experience. I think anyone who has been in combat, be it air, land or sea, has to deal
with the same kind of feelings. I believe the effect of them is about the same. Each man's war
is really his own. Human beings are asked to do what is contrary to what they were taught growing up.