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1st Provisional Platoon

USS JUNEAU

Synopsis
The USS Juneau was on a Far East cruise when the Korean War broke out.The ship was in Korean waters the day after the war began and began firing missions from its five inch guns in support of the South Korean and U.S.Army units that had been attacked by the North Koreans.In the first week of the war, the Juneau, along with other allied ships, was attacked by six North Korean PT boats.[For reference see American Naval History: 1949, p.219, June 29 and July 2, 1950 entries.See also Time, July 24, 1950, p.25.] Marines on watch were the first to spot the attacking PT boats and general quarters were sounded.Five of those boats were sunk and one got away.The Marines, firing their quad forty mm guns, sank one of the boats.
Just two weeks after the war began, the Juneau put ashore a small raiding party of sailors and Marines at night to mine a railroad tunnel in North Korea.The mission was successful and a train was blown up within the tunnel thereby halting the only North Korean supply route from the north for days.
After serving about six months on the Juneau, the Marines were transferred ashore and most rejoined their units now in Korea.A roster of the 1st Provisional Platoon, 1st Marine Division, FMF, Camp Joseph H.Pendleton, Oceanside, CA is listed below this Synopsis.The roster is followed by an After Action Report written by 2nd Lt.Richard M.Johnson on July 13, 1950.


ROSTER      1st Provisional Platoon - 1st Marine Division - 10 April 1950
CO - Hamlin, C.F.Jr., Captain
PltLdr - Johnson, R.M., 2d Lt
1stSgt - Umlauf, W.A., 1stSgt
PltSgt - Mason, G.L., SSgt
PltGuide - Boudreau, A.J., Sgt
Msgr - Dally, G., Pfc
 
1st Squad
SqdLdr - Gerichten, W.S., Sgt
FtLdr - Lewis, A.R., Cpl
BAR - Armstrong, D.E., Pfc
ABAR - Akers, V.A., Pfc
R - Deja, R.S., Pfc
FtLdr - Moore, C.L., Pfc
BAR - Pope, J.L., Pfc
ABAR - Stachulak, R.C., Pfc
R - Middendorf, W.H., Pfc
FtLdr - Dugan, R.E., Pfc
BAR - Walker, J.B., Pfc
ABAR - Crider, W.L., Pfc
R - Rowinsky, F.A., Pfc
 
2nd Squad
SqdLdr - Arnie, R.H., Sgt
FtLdr - O’Conner, J.M., Cpl
BAR - Hack, V.D., Pfc
ABAR - Hamilton, R.A., Pfc
R - Puckett, C.E., Pfc
FtLdr - Kelly, J.G., Pfc
BAR - Orrell, F.L., Pfc
ABAR - Palguta, F.J., Pfc
R - Skinner, M.A., Pfc.
FtLdr - Olague, R.G., Pfc
BAR - Weber, J.E.Jr., Pfc
ABAR - Moody, T.O.Jr., Pfc
R - McGill, J., Pfc
 
3rd Squad
SqdLdr - Carney, E.B.Jr., Cpl
Gunner - Gunter, W.H., Pfc
Gunner - Ghrist, W.J., Pfc
AmmoCar - Brown, F.R., Pfc
AmmoCar - Amstutz, N.K., Pfc
AmmoCar - Pederson, L.L., Pfc*
AmmoCar - Meier, P., Pfc
AmmoCar - Popp, W.H., Pfc**
AdminSgt - Cash, R., Sgt
Supply - Olson, R., Cpl
 
*Pederson was replaced by Tom King of Texas because Pederson had tuberculosis.
**Popp came down with polio in the middle of the firing on Korea in July.He was the cook.He was evacuated from the ship Juneau to the Helena.Later he was flown to Japan.He survived the polio.

After Action Report
Johnson, Richard M.
Officer’s Report - 13 July 1950

1st Provisional Platoon, USS Juneau

13 July 1950

Report of Second Lieutenant Richard M. Johnson (049750), U.S. Marine Corps, (0302), concerning the activities on the night of 11-12 July 1950.

At about 1930, the following named officers and men comprising a demolition team of four (4) bluejackets, a security element of four (4) marines, a demolition officer, and a demolition patrol commander, departed from the USS Juneau (CLAA 119) for the USS Mansfield (DD728) by motor whale boat:

Commander W.B. Porter (75778), USN - Demolition Patrol Commander
2nd Lt. R.M. Johnson (049750), USMC - Demolition Officer
Gunners Mate Chief Myron K. Lovejoy (3369051), USN - Demolition Team
Gunners Mate 3rd Class Junior E. Wilson (3861715), USN - Demolition Team
Gunenrs Mate 3rd Class Howard C. Scheunemann (6105313), USN - Demolition Team
Boatswain Mate 2nd class Paul A.Keane (4144817), USN - Demolition Team
Pvt.1st Class Willard L. Crider (1090718), USMC - Security Element
Pvt.1st Class Robert E. Dugan (1090722), USMC - Security Element
Pvt.1st Class William J. Ghrist (1083135), USMC - Security Element
Pvt.1st Class Jack L. Pope (1088517), USMC - Security Element

This patrol was assigned the mission of mining a railroad tunnel in the vicinity of Sangchon, Korea. We carried with us the below items of equipment:

2 Entrenching tools 5 Carbines, Cal..30M2
2 Pick mattocks 4 Thompson Sub-machine guns, cal.45
2 Pair binoculars 1 pistol Cal..45
6 Lensatic compasses 400 rounds of carbine ammunition
10 flashlights 261 rounds of 45 ammunition
10 sheath knives 10 fragmentation hand grenades
144 pounds of TNT in pound blocks 1000 feet of demolition cord
40 feet of time fuse 40 blasting caps, non-electric
6 fuse lighters 4 pair of crimpers
4 rolls of tar tape 3 SCR 536

The patrol arrived aboard the USS Mansfield at 1945 and completed plans for Naval Gunfire Support on call.

At 0001, 12 July 1950, the USS Mansfield went to General Quarters and made for its station some 3,000 yards from the beach. At approximately 0105, the whale boat, containing the demolition patrol and its equipment, left for the beach. The boat crew was supplied by the USS Mansfield. Through radio communication from the USS Mansfield and radar facilities aboard, we were kept on course until about 500 yards from the beach. The Commander navigating, we continued to the beach. At an estimated 200 yards, we could see the beach, however, all estimates at night were difficult to make. The surf did not seem too great. Several large rocks were observed in the water from one foot to 25 feet high. When it appeared that we were about 30 yards from shore, we dropped our stern anchor and paid out nearly 45 fathoms of line. Soundings were attempted with paddles, but the bottom, at this point, could not be located. More line was bent on to the anchor line, because we still had an estimated 20 yards to go to the beach.

At this point, a locomotive appeared, at what seemed to be directly over our heads. It was found later to be actually about 150 feet up and 500 yards inland. All hands laid low in the boat until the train passed. We had not heard the train coming, it just suddenly appeared (we surmised it must have come out of the tunnel), continued on for about 300 yards and disappeared in another tunnel. We were confident that we were on the right part of the beach.

During the above locomotive episode, the boat drifted seaward a bit and when the engine in the boat was started again, the anchor line had become fouled with the propeller. The Chief Boatswain Mate, acting as boat officer, went over the side and, with difficulty, cut the line loose. We could not retrieve the anchor without wasting valuable time. Still some 10 yards from the beach, the sailor acting as bow hook and the Marines disembarked and pulled the boat closer to shore.T he Marines then made a perimeter of defense while we unloaded the boat. The boat was going to have to lay off shore until we returned because the rocks near and on shore were hazardous. The surf was not a problem.

Two Marines were left on the beach and the rest of the patrol proceeded inland toward the railroad track.

The beach was covered with loose rock and walking was hazardous, especially with the loads of explosive we were carrying. We estimated the track to be 150 feet to 200 feet above us, up a very steep slope. I decided to climb to the high ground to look for the track. Everyone fell on the rocks at one time or another. After 30 minutes, we reached the high ground, but still could not see the tracks. I sent scouts out 100 yards in each direction until the track was found. We had been standing on top of the tunnel. We slid down the steep grade as cautiously as possible until reaching the tracks. Once on the tracks, our machinery was set to work. Into the tunnel, guards were posted and two demolition men, each digging in their explosives with the aid of another demolition man. The Commander, who had been in constant communication with the USS Mansfield, kept them advised of our activities. Three charges were laid, two of about 25 pounds each three feet apart and 80 feet away, another single charge of 40 pounds. All three charges were connected with two lines of primacord, one on the inboard side of each track. The two 25-pound charges were put within 50 yards from the tunnel entrance. The 40-pound charge was dug in about 100 yards from the other tunnel entrance. The ties and track were laid on a charcoal and cinder base. Since digging with shovels made too much noise, the men dug with their hands. After the charges were placed in their holes and completely covered, I inspected each position. I cleared the tunnel of all but one and taped the primacord with blasting caps onto the tracks. Two pieces of primacord, one on each track, had three non-electric blasting caps taped on, and the primacord was then taped to the track. The entire operation in the tunnel took about 45 minutes.

We left the tunnel and made a quick trip over a much easier route back to the boat. We joined the two Marines who were left on the beach, loaded the unused equipment, and waded out to the boat. All personnel accounted for, we made for the USS Mansfield, arriving there about 0330.Mission accomplished.

- R.M. Johnson, Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps

 

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