Pork Chop Hill
3"i"l 48"" "66488 : 9846
MAY If 1964
APR 22 1935-
Other Books by S. L. A. MARSHALL
On Tactics and Leading:
THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET
MEN AGAINST FIRE
THE ARMED FORCES OFFICER
THE SOLDIER'S LOAD
BASTOGNE: THE FIRST EIGHT DAYS
ARMIES ON WHEELS
CRITIQUE OF INFANTRY OPERATIONS IN KOREA
GUIDE TO THE OCCUPATION OF ENEMY TERRITORY
GUIDE TO THE USE OF INFORMATION MATERIALS
and various other Department of the Army
manuals and operational narratives
PORK CHOP HILL
The American Fighting Man in Action
Korea, Spring, 1953
S. L. A. MARSHALL
Infantry Operations Analyst, ORO, 03, Eighth Army
Chief Historian, European Theater
Correspondent, The Detroit News
Maps and Drawing^ by
H. CARVER MILLER, ORO
WILLIAM MORROW AND COMPANY
New York 1956
1956 by S. L. A. Marshall
All rights reserved.
Published simultaneously in the Dominion of
Canada by George J. McLeod Limited, Toronto.
Printed in the United States of America.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 56-9545
This book is affectionately dedicated to the United States
Navy because it won the love of my wife, Gate, when
she served it as a Specialist S.
Boofe i: PORK CHOP HILL
On Arsenal Hill 31
Loss of an Outpost 52
Attack and Repulse 79
Stumble to Victory 91
The Easy Patrol 133
All of King's Men 143
Love Alone 167
Book 2: THE PATROLS
Into the Alligator's Jaws 201
Double Ambush 212
The Incredible Patrol 233
Hexed Patrol 250
Doomed Patrol 272
The Fight at Snook 292
List of Maps
Arsenal was at the extreme end of the sub-ridge 40
Pork Chop Hill and vicinity 44
The fortifications at Dale Outpost 54
Dale Outpost seemed stout enough 57
Distribution of Yokum's platoon 82
The counterattack against Dale Outpost 98
Dale Outpost lay 500 yards beyond the main line 104
Pork Chop's entrenched works 117
King and Love Companies attack Pork Chop 146
Pork Chop Hill lay just beyond the toe of Hill 200 181
Easy Company counterattack 193
The patrol was split 205
Monier's advance 222
Re-assembly of Monier's Patrol 225
The front along the Yokkokchon 236
The attack on Yoke and Uncle 239
Yoke and Uncle were separately fortified knobs 244
King-Queen-Jack Finger 251
The first attempt to rig an ambush 260
The second attempt to spring an ambush 281
Outpost Snook was almost lost to sight 293
Isolated Outpost Snook 295
JL/URING THE SPRING OF 1953 I RETURNED TO KOREA TO
work for the first time as a war correspondent with American
forces. Shortly, at Army request, I found myself doing essen-
tially the same kind of field work in which I had pioneered in
Central Pacific operations during World War II, then car-
ried to Europe during the Normandy invasion and continued
in Korea in 1950-51.
The task: to analyze our infantry line and its methods un-
der pressure, to estimate whether troops are good or bad, to
see what is wrong or right in our tactics and to recommend
such corrections as are indicated.
On the two earlier occasions I was on loan from The De-
troit News, and my family. In the big war, I went as a soldier,
subject to orders. Later in Korea I worked as a "research sci-
entist/' still subject to orders and charged as a committee-of-
one with analyzing infantry operations. The first task given
me in the hour when we were defeated in the Battle of the
Chongchon and beaten back from North Korea was to define
the fighting methods of our "surprise" adversary, the Red
What's in a name? Neither job entailed anything more
complex than interrogation, fact-gathering, straight reporting
and some deduction, which are supposed to be the abed of
news work. In 1953, for reasons which had to do with my
personal life rather than with my professional obligations, I
was present only as The News correspondent.
It made no difference in the work. I was given the same
help and the same unlimited backing. The same willing and
candid response came from the troops. The change in hats
seemed to bother no one except a few minor functionaries.
To my mind this has always been one of the better things
about the United States Army. In the field, status becomes
of relatively little importance, provided one gets essential
work done and can develop information which is of general
benefit I was afforded that opportunity, and the resources
put at my disposal to take advantage of it were proof of the
interest and support of the higher command.
Upon arriving in the Theater I began to hear pessimistic
reports about how gravely our musical chairs rotation policy
had down-graded the fighting spirit of the average young
American in the combat line. Worried senior officers ex-
pressed the view that if the war's pace changed and the pres-
sure rose suddenly, troops might be found lacking in the old
drive and guts. Line captains told me that morale had so
far deteriorated that when units came under full attack more
men died from taking refuge in the bunkers than from fight-
ing their weapons in the trenches.
Quickly, the occasion arose for systematic inquiry. The yth
Infantry Division was brought to battle in a determined three-
day attempt by the Red Chinese to smash its vital outpost
line. In that year it was the only United States division to
know major fighting. Compared to Gettysburg or the
Ardennes, Pork Chop Hill was hardly more than a skirmish.
But within the force that engaged, losses were unusually
heavy. Maj. Gen. Trudeau's command acquitted itself with
the highest credit.
Preface 1 5
But because Operation Little Switch was going on coinci-
dentally at Freedom Village, and every correspondent rushed
to that spot as if all life depended upon it, all that happened,
all of the heroism and all of the sacrifice, went unreported. So
the very fine victory of Pork Chop Hill deserves the descrip-
tion of the Won-Lost Battle. It was won by the troops and
lost to sight by the people who had sent them forth.
I felt strongly that the ignoring of the fight by the press
and the people only made it more important that some day
the story should be told. The neglect was worse because in
preceding weeks this same division the yth had been lam-
basted for the loss of Old Baldy and the staging of Operation
Smack. They had been described as weary, slipshod, demoral-
ized troops, and, while the Pork Chop Hill fight was on, this
caustic criticism from home was repeated over Red Chinese
loud-speakers to the American fighters. Then when the mo-
ment came that their brave deeds refuted all disparagement
of them, there were no witnesses to sing their praises. It was
Certainly the prisoner exchange was sensationally interest-
ing and possibly highly significant. It was the big news and
deserved the big spotlight. But as the song says, the funda-
mental things apply as time goes by. One fundamental ques-
tion in Korea, 1953, and now, is how the American character
continues to meet the test of great events. It would have been
possible for the correspondents to keep shuttling between
Freedom Village and Pork Chop Hill which were less than
seventy miles apart. Under pressure from their home offices
they had to stick fast to the Panmunjom story. I kept mobile
for reason which had little to do with the requirements of my
newspaper. In the middle of the Pork Chop fight, which I
had already under study, I was called to Freedom Village as an
adviser to Gen. Mark W. Clark on the problems of censor-
ship. So the decision was made for me. It was necessary to
keep shuttling between the two points.
One at a time, we formed the companies which had taken
the main blows on Pork Chop, Dale and Arsenal. The assem-
blies were held immediately. Already, units which were 200
strong when the fight began were down to 40 or 50 men.
Some of the platoons mustered not more than five or six men.
These little bands were still chins up.
If the company happened to be holding a sector of the
front line, we brought it back to the reverse slope to hold the
group interview, leaving the main trench outposted, since
there was no shelter or space along the ridge crest ample
enough to accommodate the assembly. Where the company
was in a so-called "blocking position/' blocking a valley or
other avenue which bisected the main line, the work was done
on the spot where the troops bivouacked.
The average length of the question-and-answer session with
each company was seven and one-half hours, during which
we worked steadily together, except for two or three short
breaks for coffee and to uncramp my fingers.
But when we had finished, we knew practically everything
that had happened to these units during the fight, the de-
termining events were in almost exact chronological order,
and we could account for the manner in which most of the
men had been killed or wounded as well as how effectively the
weapons had been used.
The method was the same as I had first used during the
invasion of the Gilbert Islands ten years earlier. In working
with a group to reconstruct a confused action, clarification
becomes possible, indeed almost inevitable, if one starts at
the beginning and thereafter develops each incident in its
proper sequence. All of the participants in the fight appear
as witnesses. The memory of each man is refreshed by what
he hears others say. At these formations all rank is put aside.
The greenest private may contradict his colonel if he believes
that his colonel's statement is in error. Testimony is weighed
according to its obvious validity and pertinence to the course
taken by the operation. There are several surprising things
about the process which in itself is elementary and requires
little more than patient concentration. Blank spots rarely
occur. In the average critique, once work starts, there is al-
most no disagreement between the witnesses.
By the time I was through on Pork Chop Hill, my notebook
contained more than 50,000 words on this one fight. It was
evident that its great human values could not be compressed
into newspaper space. Some of the incidents were synopsized
and sent home. Later, when there was leisure, I began to read
back through the cold notes. As they warmed again, what had
been written on the distant ridges seemed clearly to point to
several general conclusions.
The in-fighting which took place in the entrenched works
of the outposts was as hard-pressed and bloody as Cold Har-
bor, Attu or the Argonne. The Americans won, not simply
by the superior weight of their artillery, but because the in-
fantry, man for man in the hand-to-hand battle, outgamed
the Red Chinese.
In two vital particulars these Americans outshone any ot
our troops with whom I have ever dealt: there was a superior
command presence in their young officers, and a higher ratio
of enlisted men exercised strong initiative in the most dan-
The one manifest weakness in our youngsters was in their
leg muscles and not in their fighting spirit; the former the
Army, in the time allotted it, can do little to correct; it
should rejoice that they are not deficient in the latter. Their
officers were wrong in suspecting that when the Red tide
moved in, too many young Americans took refuge inside the
bunker walls, neglecting to use their weapons. But it was un-
mistakably true that an inordinate percentage of ROK sol-
diers behaved that way, and I so reported.
But in more ways than one, the show remained an enigma.
Being a book soldier, I could not believe in the policy of in-
dividual rotation then in use by the United States. To my
mind, it was ruinous to morale and to good administrative
order within an armed force. Whatever it gave the soldier, it
sacrificed most of the traditional values, such as earned pro-
motion and citation, pride in unit and close comradeship,
which are supposed to keep troops steadfast. Yet in the cru-
cible the metal still looked like gold. Maybe the truth is that
we haven't begun to understand the potential of young Amer-
icans for meeting the great challenge.
Shortly after Pork Chop Hill I attended a memorial service
for the battle dead of one battalion. It did honor to 73 men.
But they had been given no other honor by their country for
the victory which they had helped win; it drew no headlines,
nor did the voices on the national radio give adequate testi-
mony. There is a great deal of iron in war. There is also irony.
My work with the patrols was of a slightly different order
because of a sharply defined objective. For nearly two years,
Eighth Army had fought an almost stationary war, and pa-
trolling was its main combat activity. In that time, there had
been no uniformly regulated system of patrol reporting or
''debriefing" and there was much slack in these operations be-
cause the records were not clear. It was quite possible for a
patrol to fake a probe and get away with it if only a few hands
wished to avoid an embarrassing exposure. So the work had
the threefold purpose of demonstrating the weakness in the
old hit-or-miss method, substituting a system which could be
centrally controlled, and last, starting a school for the training
of people who could extend the system. Had the war lasted, it
might have proved more than a novel, local experiment.
I dealt with the patrols as rapidly as I could get to them by
jeep or helicopter, starting as soon as the word came through
that a patrol had been hit We did our work in the early
morning before the survivors had been given rest or a chance
to clean up. The average debriefing session lasted four hours
and we forgathered in whatever bunker was handiest to their
point of return. The curious thing was that the work, instead
of further straining men already near exhaustion, seemed to
have a therapeutic effect and provide a spiritual purge. They
were burdened and brooding over a feeling of failure at the
beginning. As they talked things out, and all that had hap-
pened for good or bad came clear to them, they freshened.
The recuperative powers in the young American fighter in this
situation are absolutely amazing. Even if only a half dozen
have survived out of twenty, they go at the problem with
almost uniform interest and professional exactitude.
The lessons in these night operations should be clear to all
who study the detail of what happened. For my own part, I
was impressed most strongly by the almost invariable collapse
of communications and the showing that disarrangements in
night fighting usually come of some freak happening which
no one could have anticipated. With all the emphasis that is
put upon control, there is still room to search for improved
Of the enlisted men who appear in this book, I recom-
mended 73 for decoration, the awards ranging from Bronze
Star to the Congressional Medal. In Korea, uniquely, I had
time to talk to a large group of honor men about their back-
ground. Not one of the 73 came of a family which could have
afforded to send him to college. Most of them came from
families with three children or more. Not one of them was an
only child. The majority spoke voluntarily of their home folks
with enthusiasm, recognizing that the love given them was a
vital force in their lives. Of the 73, 52 expressed warm admira-
tion for their fathers, most often with high regard for their
masculine qualities. Several of these tributes are an integral
part of the battle narrative. The sample is not large enough to
be highly significant. It is reported only as it bears on the
character of the young men whose deeds carried this particu-
lar fight for the United States. In the words of Elliot Paul:
"It was a privilege to be associated with such courageous,
high-minded men, and their enemies will do well to be afraid
of them so long as they are above ground/'
What of the enemy? In this book, both during the main
fight and in the patrol actions, he appears as hardly more than
a fleeting shadow in his brief forays across the surface before
he returns to earth. That was the nature of Red Chinese opera-
tions during the last year of the war. If an attempt were
made in this book to materialize this force, to make the in-
tangible comprehensible, it would be unreal. Red Chinese
operations were a vanishing act on the grand scale. Their de-
fensive works were engineered for maximum concealment and
deception; ours were not. In the attack, their individuals were
furtive, light of foot and highly elusive; ours were not. The
essential difference between the two sides did not come of any
natural traits which made one light, the other ponderous.
After fighting operations were relatively stabilized by the truce
negotiations, the Red Chinese kept men and units in line.
The longer they stayed, the craftier they became. On the
American side, men moved in and out as if the fighting line
operated on a conveyer belt. No one stayed long enough to
graduate in the fine art of deception. "Even so was wisdom
proven blind, so courage failed, so strength was chained."
In 1950, the Red Chinese were a crude lot, given more to
pell-mell attacks and diehard stands than to deception and
protection. But they stayed and they learned as they went
along. When they entered the war, apart from their excep-
tional skill and persistence with the machine gun, they were
not accurate users of hand weapons in pressing the attack
home. Until the end, that general weakness was evident
Otherwise, by 1953 few of the old signs remained. They had
become as tenacious and as earth-seeking as ants, and in that
lay a great part of their success. Two and one-half years of war
in Korea were a bonanza for Communist China. On that train-
ing ground her armies became as skilled as any in the world
in the techniques of hitting, evading and surviving.
Much of the warfare that is described in this book becomes
comprehensible only when it is examined against the back-
ground of the two opposing defensive systems.
The enfilading of our trenches occurred almost invariably
when the Red Chinese got inside our works. It could hardly
be prevented. The profiles of the American bunkers stood so
high above the trench that the enemy was able to use their
sandbagged walls as breastworks from which to fire along the
trench. Once he became so placed, it was almost impossible
to dislodge him with counter grenade and automatic fire. The
only tactic which availed was for one or two hardy spirits to
crawl along the high ground behind the parados and try to
blast him from the flank.
Downhill communications trenches from the main line to
the outpost subridges were frequently dug so deep that it
would have been impossible to fire any weapon from within
them so as to cover the ridge slopes. Yet in many instances
they were suitably placed for the putting of flanking fire
against an enemy force attacking upslope toward the outpost.
The main object of entrenchments, judging by their depth,
was to provide the fullest possible cover against enemy artil-
lery bursts rather than to afford the garrison a reasonable pro-
tection without limiting its employment of its own weapons.
Blinkers had been built without particular regard to the
slopes which they were supposed to cover or the weapons
which would be fired from within them. So many times the
height and outlook of the embrasure made the siting of the
weapon excessively high. It could not be turned against the
immediate downslope unless the firer leaned out and beyond
the aperture. Thus, in effect, the weapon was aimed at ground
along the flat beyond the ridge foot where its automatic fires
overlapped the fires of the mortars and artillery. Often the
rifleman in the trench was similarly interdicted by the depth
of the cut and the height of the parapet. To put fire on the
immediate downslope, he had to get out of the trench.
Roads leading to the main line, under full observation by
the enemy, many times running parallel to his lines, often
within less than 1,000 yards of his gun positions, were at best
only superficially screened. At many points the screening had
been either weathered down or flattened by the enemy fire.
Its appearance suggested it had been in that condition for
weeks, though there had been no effort to replace it. Where
the screening was up, the one layer could not have been suffi-
cient to conceal vehicular movement along the main supply
The placement of main-line fire trenches seemed to be ar-
bitrary and according to the whim of local commanders rather
than standardized according to accepted fire principles. Some-
times the line followed the military crest. Sometimes it was
along the topographical crest. Along still other ridges, it was
somewhere between the two. But these variations did not ap-
pear to be governed by the dominant terrain conditions, for
example, the topographical crest being too sheer for entrench-
ment, or the military crest being rejected because it was too
far downslope. In fact, there was no discernible pattern.
Most bunkers, particularly those on reverse slopes used for
sleeping and warming, were too heavily built The surplus of
sandbags on the roofs weakened the timbers and tended to
break the bunker down under artillery fire. Then, because the
over-all weight of the structure was often much too heavy for
its insecure moorings, the run-off of only a little rain from the
bunker, washing away a few inches of soil from the down-
slope, would collapse the bunker.
Many of the sleeping bunkers, of no use for anything except
shelter in the hour of engagement, were distributed along the
fighting trench on that side of the hill which faced the enemy.
They were therefore on direct line of sight to the enemy
artillery. They contributed little or nothing to the defense of
the hill to make up for this additional jeopardy to troops,
since the reverse slope, as to contour and structure, was just as
useful for the purpose and provided more defilade. The works
of the outpost positions were usually more soundly engineered
than those of the main line, with better placement and
greater thickness of defensive wire and less straight alignment
of the trenches.
These were the conditions in the system of fortifications
during the spring, 1953. The field army had already been sit-
ting on approximately this same ground for almost two years.
Many of the newly arrived commanders, particularly those
with engineering training, were appalled to discover that it
was so badly prepared, and that "the impregnable line,
strongly organized in depth" did not, in fact, exist. Conspicu-
ously, within the forward defense zone, the one tier which
was most vulnerable either to conventional or atomic attack
from the air was the front line proper. It presented a continu-
ous and wholly obvious target to vertical attack in any form,
and its troops were poorly insulated against any of the effects
of atomic missiles.
Though the works of the Red Chinese were in some ways
short of ideal, they were not similarly vulnerable. The enemy
had toiled over his fortified belt for almost two years, handi-
capped by material shortages, lack of an adequate motoriza-
tion and the retracted position of his air defenses, but favored
by the muscle power in his hard-driven masses. The salient
characteristics of the system that had evolved were thoroughly
Behind the most forward firing posts of the Red Chinese,
the ridges were entrenched to an average depth of approxi-
mately fourteen miles. This was not in all respects a perfectly
reticulated system. But the enemy could have fallen back upon
successive prepared positions for all that distance.
Their trenches were a maze which presented few profitable
targets to the opposing air and artillery at any time. There
were no easily identifiable gun positions, dumps, CPs, OPs,
communications centers, etc. There were few observable signs
of human life or activity even during the after-dark periods
of engagement. The American air could always batter down
sections of the trench system. But no real advantage came of
so doing. Getting at any target more important than a line of
unoccupied trench was largely in the nature of a guessing
Rarely, indeed, were groups of personnel in any size to be
seen within the trenches of the enemy side. I recall one 24-
hour period in May, 1953, when only 37 persons were ob-
served along the enemy front by the whole Eighth Army.
Normally, the trench system seemed to be manned only by
occasional outposts and lookouts whose mission was to alert
the garrison in the event of an attack.
The garrisons lived under the protection of the ridge mass.
Tunnels were put into the ridge from the rear. The tunnels
led to chambers large enough to house a company or battalion.
Air bombs striking the ridge crests scarcely shook these sub-
terranean shelters and shelling by the artillery was without
effect. The tunnel entrances were too well camouflaged to be
detected through air photography.
Enemy artillery pieces were fought from other tunnels
put through the ridge near the crest. The guns were man-
handled to the top after completion of the tunnel. When
fired, they would be run to the forward aperture, and then
drawn back into the tunnel when the firing was completed.
Entrances to these shafts were so well concealed that it was
all but impossible to observe them directly.
Enemy antiaircraft guns were fired from deep pits usually
dug adjacent to the foot of the ridge. The top of the pit was
screened with material which blended quite well into the sur-
rounding terrain. The pits sometimes appeared as a dimple-
like spot on an air photo but could scarcely be distinguished
from other common features of the landscape. The guns
proper were rarely seen, even when engaging.
Though this description has been put down with a broad
stroke, these were the main features of the system. By reason
of the great extension of their diggings, their diligent use of
camouflage and their recourse to ground cover, the Red
Chinese had better protection against any type of missile,
conventional or fantastic, than did the Eighth Army.
The two systems were quite unlike, though each line was
immobolized by the conditions which it had accepted. Among
the Red Chinese, the infantry advance was slowed to a tor-
toise pace by its cave-anchored guns. When the Communist
infantry broke through the opposing crust, as happened in the
offensive against the ROK divisions in the 1953 summer, its
assault waves immediately moved beyond the reach of the
The Eighth Army became immobile because it was under-
divisioned for defending from a trench system while still re-
taining forward offensive power. By military theory, trenches
are dug for the purpose of reducing the numbers of men re-
quired for the defensive, thereby adding to the general reserve
or striking force.
Field armies are supposed to resort to trench systems only
to enable the resumption of the offensive from them. Since
trench warfare adds little to individual skill, unit training and
general mobility, it is axiomatic that every effort should be
made to reduce the number of men employed in defense so
that greater numbers can be trained for offensive action.
During its two years of position warfare, however, the
Eighth Army had only enough men to garrison its trenches.
Not only was the line exceedingly thin, but its people were
always at least 50 per cent deficient in fighting experience.
Therein lay the contradiction. As to equipment, the Eighth
was a mobile army, but for lack of manpower, it was com-
pelled to use the implements of mobility simply to sit and
So on both sides in 1953 there were general conditions
which radically limited opportunity in any local engagement
The fighting which resulted seemed like a deadly form of
shadow boxing. It may well be that when armies are thus
bound, the paralysis of the general force is reflected in the
slowed reaction of the average individual. The pace at times
becomes retarded until it seems as unreal as a picture in slow
motion. The energy and fire spent by both sides is all out of
proportion to the meagerness of the stakes and the numbers
of men who are actively fighting to seize or hold ground. It
is as if both sides are at grips with something they can neither
let go of nor hold.
The helpers in the field work which led to this book were
legion. Simply to acknowledge the great debt I owe them
must fall far short of payment. In my journeyings along the
front and about the theater I had the advantage of the sup-
port and advice of many distinguished commanders. To these,
many of them dearly cherished old friends, I give my warmest
gratitude. I only refrain from the pleasure of listing their
names because I hesitate to involve eminent professional men
in any responsibility for a work which in some parts repre-
sents an independent exercise of my personal judgment. The
Marine Gazette, Cavalier and Army magazine earlier pub-
lished some of the patrol stories, thereby stimulating the
larger effort and graciously agreeing to the use herein made
of the material. Last, I thank James B. O'Connell who goaded
me into making the start, failing which I would still be say-
ing, "Some day 111 get on it."
S. L. A. MARSHALL
Book 1 ~~ Pork Chop Hill
On Arsenal Hill
. HE TWIN OUTPOST HILLS OF ERIE AND ARSENAL THRUST FAR
out into the Yokkokchon Valley like a side spur of Eighth
Army's main line across the higher ridges. On those hills, men
were expecting an attack that night.
For almost a week the word had been out. No mere rumor,
it was spread to the squads on the authority of Division G2
that the Communist enemy would make a "main effort" at
Hour 2300 on 16 April.
The word had leaked from the other side and that was a
good reason to believe it. The reason lay in a contradiction
within the fighting system of this peculiar Chinese enemy.
Though his tactics his movement of forces on the battlefield
reflected the extreme rigidity of an autocratic state, his man-
ner of handling vital information was democratic to the point
When a battle plan was decided by the high command, its
essentials were passed down the line until finally even the
rifle squads were permitted to chew them over. The theory was
that the troops got a "good feeling" from knowing the secret.
It made them think that the plan was the best possible one.
At least, that was the American explanation of the Chinese
So when any agent or other line-crosser brought word that
a Communist attack was imminent, it didn't lessen his credi-
bility that he specified the hour and place.
32 Pork Chop Hill
This time the men on Erie and Arsenal were told that the
main blow would land against the 2nd ROK's sector on
White Horse Hill which lay within rifle shot distance to the
right. Because it was nearby, they expected to become en-
gaged. Easy Company of the 32nd Regiment did not view
that prospect as a special privilege or feel superior to the rest
of the yth Infantry Division, which, being extended to the
left and westward of the company sector, would probably miss
The company strength was quite evenly divided into two
garrisons, one covering Arsenal Hill, the other guarding the
rearward outpost, Erie. The airline distance between the two
perimeters, CP to CP, was 440 yards. The crowns of both
hills wore ringed entrenchments and were stoutly fortified
with heavily timbered, thickly sandbagged, artillery-resistant
bunkers. Also, they were oversupplied with thrice as much
ammunition as they were likely to need under any circum-
On Arsenal Hill were First and Second Platoons, 94 men
altogether, under 2nd Lieuts. Donald P. Murphy and Ralph
R. Drake, two sturdy characters. The other two platoons of
Easy garrisoned Erie Hill under Lieut. Jack K. Thun, the
company commander. But there the garrison had been re-en-
forced through the attachment of one rifle platoon from
George Company, and the 81 -mm mortar platoon and one
heavy machine-gun section out of How Company. So, when
it came to the balance of fighting power between the two
hills, Arsenal was but the outpost of an outpost.
Positions of this kind, isolated, engineered for all-around
defense, encircled by broad wire entanglements and capping
the lower ridges, formed an outwork all along the Eighth
Army front in 1953. Of this reticulation came the only real
justification for the claim that the defensive line of the United
On Arsenal Hill 33
Nations forces was organized "in depth." It was otherwise a
very shallow and undermanned front. Lying at varying dis-
tances from the main-line trench, though always within ar-
tillery and 4.2 mortar reach, the outposts were kept supplied
by motor carriers operating over dirt roads in broad daylight.
Then, the enemy artillery usually slept.
Tactically, the great value of the outposts came from the
fact that they looked temptingly weak. They were the cheese
in the trap. The grand object was to confront the Communist
enemy with a soft touch and thereby lure his forces out of
their underground galleries and into the open where they
might be brayed to bits by the superior power of the United
States artillery. The defending infantry was hardly more than
a pawn in this game; decision was dictated by the guns. Com-
pared with the sedentary state of the general front during the
truce-talk period, it was extraordinarily hazardous duty and
men and units stood it in five-day stretches or less.
Easy Company had been nesting on its two hills for 48
hours and was feeling quite at home when it started. In
late afternoon, starting at 1730, Arsenal and Erie were shelled.
For 72 minutes mortar and artillery fell with about equal
weight on both hills. When the first rounds hit, the men were
already in the strong-walled bunkers, most of them catching
a few winks after the evening meal. Even so, on Erie Hill, one
artillery shell exploded through a bunker door, killing three
men and wounding seven. Arsenal had better luck. Thirty
yards of its trench were caved in and one bunker crushed by
the fire. But after the barrage lifted, Murphy checked all
squads and reported to Thun that he had lost no skin.
Through the early dark there was random shellfire against
Arsenal. Also a recoilless gun, speaking accurately and per-
sistently from a tunnel somewhere on Hill 200, cut two clean
34 Pork Chop Hill
avenues through the belt of wire which protected the hill.
There was no chance to repair the breach.
One other incident deserves mention. Just before the after-
noon bombardment began, there arrived on Arsenal Hill a
grass-green artillery forward observer, lately graduated from
Fort Sill, fresh from the United States and still awaiting his
baptism of fire. He had been sent forward to "look around"
and to learn by easy stages how the artillery party already pres-
ent did its work. After 48 hours in this finishing school, he
would be ready for his turn in line.
2nd Lieut. William W. DeWitt, 23 years old, had the build
of a miniature Jack Dempsey and even looked like the Old
Champ. His home town was Vinita, Oklahoma. His ambition
was to return there as soon as possible and join his dad in
selling farm machinery. He explained that to Drake and
Murphy soon after meeting them. They liked the frankness
with which he said, "You see, Dad and I have been like part-
ners since I was a baby, though he'll always be twice the man
DeWitt was impressed though not awed by the promptness
with which the thunder began rolling just seven minutes after
he joined the fighting front. In one hour he counted 73 shells
as they exploded atop the hill. He was impressed still more
by the cool way in which the infantrymen took the pounding.
After the heavy shelling ceased and while a few sparks were
still flying, he moved out of the artillery OP and along the
bunker line "to get the feel of troops." What he saw and
heard gave him assurance that he was among strong com-
The three hours of silence that followed was to DeWitt, as
well as the others, more unnerving than the shellfire.
The clock ticked on. As the minute hand moved toward
2340, the situation on Arsenal Hill was absolutely quiet, the
On Arsenal Hill 35
attitude of the garrison relatively normal. Though their
ground was already invaded, the men of Easy remained for
the moment unaware of it. Then the curtain rose, the lights
went on, the action started and the play rushed to its climax.
It was all compressed within a few seconds of time.
Lieutenant Drake was on his bunk in the CP trying to read
a copy of The Stars and Stripes. But the light was bad and he
dozed. At arm's length from him was Sgt. F. C. Vance, work-
ing the phone which connected the CP with the squads and
the outguards manning alarm posts on the lower slopes of the
In the artillery OP, which was an anteroom joined to the
Arsenal CP by a 35-foot revetted tunnel, Lieutenant DeWitt,
the green hand, was getting some coaching from Lieut. Ed-
ward Haley, the old hand, while the artillery reconnaissance
sergeant and the private who worked as wire man stood by.
Lieutenant Murphy's men at the starting moment were all
either standing in the trenches, attending the automatic weap-
ons in the bunkers or sitting at their outguard posts on the
One of the outguards, Private Ramey, happened to glance
back over his left shoulder. He had heard nothing; it just
chanced that way. Not more than 20 yards away, he saw the
figure of a man standing in the clear. Over the phone he whis-
pered, "There's a man behind me. Shall I fire?"
Sergeant Vance awakened Drake. He said, "Ramey's calling
from No. 32. He says he sees a man inside his position. He
wants to know if he should fire/'
Drake grabbed the phone. Talking to Private Martinez on
Outguard No. 33, he said, "You must have heard Ramey. Do
you see anyone from where you sit? Anything moving out
there?" Martinez answered, "I don't see a thing. There's
nothing stirring. Ramey must be wrong."
36 Pork Chop Hill
Drake deliberated for a split second, then, handing the
phone to Sergeant Johns, he said, "We got to clear it up. I
think we ought to put a flare out there/'
Before Johns had time to order the flare, three amber lights
split the sky above Chinese-held Hill 200, followed at once by
two green flares from the hill called Pokkae.
Drake, Johns and Vance saw these signals, as did Murphy,
and Lieutenant Thun, back on Erie. Though so far the two
hills were quiet, they knew at once that the battle was starting,
twenty minutes ahead of schedule.
Johns yelled over the phone, "All outguards withdraw!"
Already developments had made the order superfluous.
Murphy was on the sound power giving Thun on Erie a
blow-by-blow description of what he saw at ringside. "They
have put up four yellow flares over 200 . . . no, it's three, and
right together . . . now over Pokkae I see two green lights/*
Thun answered, "Yes, I see the lights/' Murphy broke off the
Thun called out over the Erie hot loop, "All outguards
Sgt. William MacBrien, who was standing next Murphy,
shouted over the Arsenal loop, "All squads stand ready!"
Twice the artillery got on the phone to Murphy, asking
him, "Do you want Flash Arsenal?" Twice he replied, "No!
No! Hold off! Ill tell you when I want it."
Murphy was still nursing a doubt about his situation. He
didn't want artillery fires unless Arsenal was under direct as-
sault by the Communist infantry. Proof of that was still
lacking. So for a brief interval he delayed decision. Only
about forty seconds had passed since he got the first warning.
Even so, the defense had not reacted swiftly enough to
assure all-around collection. Having gained entry by stealth,
the Chinese followed through with extraordinary vigor.
On Arsenal Hill 37
Private Ramey, having called the first warning, put down
his phone and again looked at the spot. Now, instead of a lone
man, he saw at least ten skirmishers in line across his rear.
They were bounding upslope between him and the platoon
trench. He might have fired at them with his carbine. But he
was too surprised to think of it; besides, there had been no
shooting on the hill and the lack of it puzzled him. Too late,
he realized that these were enemy, that they had gone on, that
a battle was beginning and that he was already cut off. Ramey
went flat and stayed motionless, his telephone forgotten. That
put him fully exposed on the foot of the forward slope of
Arsenal just as the opposing artilleries made ready to con-
centrate their fires toward his plot of ground. He hugged earth
Four other outguards had not waited to hear Johns' order.
They sprinted for the trench on hearing Ramey report that
he had sighted a Chinese. By so doing, they gained security
though they missed seeing any sign of the enemy. Had they
tarried longer, they might have learned more, yet not have
lived to tell it.
On No. 33, Private Martinez learned a split-second too late
that he had given Lieutenant Drake bad information. As he
dropped the phone after saying the words, "Ramey must be
wrong," a squad of Chinese at least eight men arose among
the rocks not more than twelve paces below his post and
charged him. Martinez fired a quick burst from his carbine
and, already on his way dashing for the trench, saw one man
stagger and fall. Silently, the Chinese came on behind him,
running hard. Gaining the trench, Martinez veered toward
the CP. The Chinese went the opposite way, turning toward
the frontal bunkers. Only one man on top the hill, Haley, the
forward observer, witnessed their entry, and he saw them only
as a few fleeting shadows.
38 Pork Chop Hill
For local security on that particular night, the Arsenal gar-
rison had arranged a special challenge, the earthy four-letter
W0 rd " " to be answered by "you" Johns heard someone
scratching at the poncho which was draped over the CP door
and bellowed, " !" In his excitement, Martinez couldn't
think of the countersign, and he narrowly escaped death at
Johns' hands. Martinez gasped, "I saw a pile of dead men
outside the trench." But that was hallucination.
Followed by the artillery sergeant, Haley jumped to the fire
port of the OP and began pumping his carbine in the direc-
tion taken by the enemy group. Neither of them yelled a
warning to the men in the CP. However, MacBrien and Johns
saw them firing their weapons like grim death and guessed
that the works were already penetrated. Haley's oversight
didn't matter for there wasn't time to pass the word around.
In a bunker near the front of Arsenal Hill, an attached
squad from How Company, warned by Johns' call, tried to
get ready. But the crew on the Browning .30 heavy was in
difficulty. From too great haste, the belt webbing had become
snagged. Someone yelled, "The gun's jammed!" Then all
hands clustered around it; what should have been in these
vital seconds an all-around deployment became a tight knot
of men. No one covered the door or stood to the embrasure.
There had scarcely been time to think of it. And the Chinese
who had followed Martinez into the trench were headed
straight for this bunker.
That group, as well as the skirmishers who had gotten past
Ramey, had made an almost perfect score. Only three men
had seen them; only one had fired on them. They were now
inside the defense. Combined, the two groups counted not
more than twenty men. By speed and stealth, they had
achieved a limited surprise. Whether it would bear full fruit
On Arsenal Hill 39
would depend, from this point on, on the swiftness of the
follow-up by the first Chinese assault wave.
For Arsenal Hill had now come to the fire. In Fourth
Squad's bunker, which overlooked the main finger descend-
ing westward from the ridge, Cpl. C. H. Kinder and his men
were in position to see and report any further movement de-
veloping along the same line. And Kinder was playing his
part heads up. Over the phone he was saying to Drake, "I
can't see anything yet. It's too dark. But they're bound to
come this way and we're waiting for them. I'm going to open
fire now." Kinder personally was handling the light machine
gun. His two BAR men already were out in the trench, set
either to fire along it or down the slope from both ends of the
bunker. Corporal Norman, assistant squad leader, was passing
out grenades and checking the ammunition.
At the rear of Second Platoon's sector, on top of Arsenal's
reverse slope where its defenders could see any .movement on
the face of Erie Outpost, Pvt. John Wolzeak, toting a light
machine gun, had taken position on the rampart, hugging a
bunker wall. So situated, Wolzeak's weapon commanded the
paddy flats on Arsenal's rear. A mellow glow suffused this
hollow, bounced from a searchlight on the battalion ridge.
Wolzeak was a bleak and lonely spirit Thirty yards to Wol-
zeak's right was Private Crane, a newly arrived replacement,
armed with a BAR. It was not a promising combination. Said
Murphy, "Wolzeak had been until that moment the platoon's
prize eight ball. I counted him an unwilling soldier, a man in-
capable of turning tiger."
Elsewhere along the bunker line, other men stood ready,
shouted warning, nervously checked their weapons and
strained to see any movement amid the rocks of the darkened
slope. But with a few minor exceptions, the rest of the 94
men on Arsenal Hill were the supernumeraries of the unfold-
On Arsenal Hill 41
ing action. The drama was made and played by the artillery,
plus the few infantrymen who have already been mentioned
Less than two minutes had passed since MacBrien had or-
dered the squads to stand ready. Martinez had just arrived at
the CP, not carrying the word that the Chinese had followed
him into the trench, since he had not looked back to see.
Haley and the artillery sergeant were firing their carbines.
Out in the trench the 81 and 4.2 mortar observers were mov-
ing among the bunkers warning the riflemen that a flash fire
was probably coming. Murphy was again on the phone talking
Right then the first salvo from the Chinese artillery dropped
onto Arsenal. So close was the explosion that the CP bunker
Murphy said to Thun, "You heard that one. Now I can
hear small arms. Rifles and burp guns. They're hitting the
sandbags just outside me. I'm engaged by an unknown num-
ber of enemy. [It was, in fact, about two companies.] I'd say
they're not more than 100 yards in front of me/'
Murphy was about to add, "Tire Flash Arsenal!"
His words were stopped in his throat by an explosion which
almost tore the CP apart while setting its beams and sand-
bags afire. It snapped Murphy's connection with Thun and
severed every other telephone line on the hill except the one
wire linking the CP with Fourth Squad. Corporal Kinder was
trying to raise the CP at that moment. He wanted to say,
"We see them now. We've got them in the open and we're
giving them hell!" But at the other end, there was no one to
listen. During those seconds the CP was totally absorbed in
its own problems.
One round of enemy artillery, size unknown, had come di-
rectly through the window of the OP, hit the artillery sergeant
42 Pork Chop Hill
in the head, decapitating him and, exploding from the con-
tact, had wrecked the rest of the artillery party. The four men,
Haley, DeWitt, the sergeant and the private, had been stand-
ing close together. While Haley and the sergeant had been
working their carbines, DeWitt, for lack of anything better
to do, had been scoring enemy artillery hits in the CP vicinity.
He had counted to 33 just as the blast went off.
After exploding, the blast picked up the three others and
blew them 35 feet back through the tunnel and to the far
wall of the CP. DeWitt struck the wall with such violence
that he knocked down Johns and Vance. DeWitt was uncon-
scious and bleeding from several superficial wounds. A steel
fragment had drilled Haley in the head. The artillery private
had several slugs in his legs and one in his belly.
For the moment, there was no chance for the stunned in-
fantrymen to attend the wounded gunners. The OP was fully
ablaze and the flames were sweeping along the tunnel toward
the CP. Two of the bunks were afire. All lights were out and
only the fire illumined the scene against the heavy smoke from
the burning gunny.
By the glare, Johns could see the legs of the fourth man
projecting from the OP into the passageway. He could see
that the clothing was afire. Johns crawled to the figure and
beat out the fire with his hands. Then he crawled back
through the passageway dragging the body. Not until he had
completed the rescue did he see that the sergeant was head-
Drake, Vance, MacBrien and the others beat at the flames
with blankets, ponchos and whatever lay at hand. Their
promptness saved the situation for a few precious minutes,
but against the fire they could not do more than hold their
own; the draft from the wide-open OP was working as a bel-
lows. All of them came out of the ordeal badly singed. Both
On Arsenal Hill 43
Haley and DeWitt had been set afire. Later, no one could re-
member who had saved them.
Murphy, steady as a rock, ignored the fire to sweat over
his communications. Now, having waited a few seconds too
long, he felt a desperate need to get through to the artillery
and order, "Flash Arsenal/' Finding that his telephone lines
were out, he tried to raise Thun on the platoon radio. But
the instrument, though still undamaged, wouldn't cut
through. It was a helpless feeling, heightening his fear of what
was happening to the men on the bunker line.
On Erie Hill, Lieutenant Thun was trying to see Arsenal's
plight through the eyes of his subordinate. He knew nothing
about the holocaust in the CP. He knew that Murphy had
asked that the artillery "hold off." But the last interrupted
message from Murphy had indicated that the fight was com-
ing to a crisis. From the height of Erie, he could hear the
crescendo of small arms fire around the Arsenal rampart.
That was enough for him. He called the fire direction center
and said, "Fire Flash Arsenal," then added as an afterthought,
"Fire Flash Erie, also/'
Murphy reckoned that his commander would give the order
which he was not in position to relay. Jumping into the trench
and running to the nearest bunker, he grabbed three men and
said, "Move down the bunker line. See all of the men. Tell
them I think a flash fire is coming. They are to return all
fires but stay under cover. They are to pass back to the CP any
information they have. Our lines are out and so they will do
it by runner." The men moved out and Murphy returned to
By the time Lieut. Col. Joseph S. Kimmitt, commanding
the 48th Battalion, got Thun's request for the two fires, what
had happened to Erie and Arsenal had become but one seg-
ment in an all-encompassing problem. The Chinese artillery
Pork Chop Hill
Pork Chop Hill and vicinity. The American-held ridges are shown in
outline. Enemy-held hills are shown in double line.
was now falling with total weight on the Alligator Jaws, White
Horse, Hill 327 and the other approximate main ridges. His
battalion that night would get off 6,452 rounds of counterfire,
a mark nearing the all-time ceiling for any of the children of
Saint Barbara, patron saint of all gunners. Fortunately, Kim-
mitt had a habit of working physically as close to infantry as
a gunner can get. Only a swinging door separated him from
the 83 (operations section) of the 32nd Regiment. When a
fight was on, he and Colonel Van Way of the infantry, in
effect, shared one office. Within a few seconds, he had called
On Arsenal Hill 45
Lieut. Col. Royall Taylor, the battalion commander on Hill
327, and gotten approval for the shoot on Arsenal and Erie.
In the burning CP, DeWitt had regained consciousness
after four or five minutes. Johns told him to move a few feet
because he was too close to the flames. DeWitt said, "I can
hear the fire but I can't see it; I guess I must be blind/' Johns
was busy dressing Haley's wound and merely glanced up to
note from DeWitt's fumbling motions that he must be speak-
ing the truth. Then DeWitt said to Johns, "Give me your .45
and guide me to the door; if any Chinks come, 111 let them
have it" Johns handed him the pistol and seated him on an
ammo case at the CP entrance. Sightless and still reeling from
dizziness, DeWitt sat there while the others beat at the
flames. Afterward the infantrymen paid tribute to the effect
on their spirits from the sight of his raised pistol. Said Johns,
"The guts of that guy steadied us all/'
Meanwhile a minor hell had been popping all around the
The first party of Chinese had gone straight for the bunker
where the How Company squad was preoccupied with the
balky machine gun. Before the How men could fire a weapon,
they were caught in a crossfire of burp guns poked through
the door and embrasure. All eight of them were cut down.
They stayed where they had fallen, and moments later an
artillery shell broke down the roof. Though one man lost a
leg, all eight ultimately survived the fight. After gunning the
bunker, the Chinese failed to grenade it. It is likely that they
were partly destroyed, or at least interrupted, by their own
In front of Fourth Squad's bunker, the Chinese assault
wave had broken through the wire barricade via the avenues
cut by the recoilless gun fired from Hill 200 in the late eve-
46 Pork Chop Hill
ning. But Corporal Kinder had seen them in time. He sat at
the light machine gun, blasting the slope where the Chinese
came through. From the bunker ends, his two BAR men
centered fire on the same target. Kinder could not see how
much execution he was working because the Chinese stayed
low. But he knew that no one was getting to the top of the
slope and that satisfied him. He got Drake on the phone and
said, 'We're going strong and I think we're stopping them/'
Still, the bullet swarm against Kinder's bunker continued to
thicken. One slug caught Kinder in the shoulder and put him
out of action. The gun was taken over and kept going by Pfc.
Ramon Angel, a Puerto Rican, while Kinder, though down,
continued to direct the squad.
Whether deflected by their own artillery where it beat
against the crest and forward slope of the hill, or diverted by
the hope of staying inside the counter fire from the American
batteries, the greater part of the enemy infantry body flowed
around the hill to the rice paddies at the base of Arsenal's
rear slope. Several machine guns took position behind the
paddy embankments, and under their covering fire, an irregu-
lar line of grenadiers and riflemen started the climb. It was
the moment for which Private Wolzeak had been waiting
and the glow from the searchlight made the climbing figures
stand out clear against the silvered surface of the paddies. He
yelled to Crane, "Now's the time!" Together the two men,
Wolzeak with the LMG, Crane with the BAR, opened fire,
though they maintained distance from each other to get a
better spread over the uneven slope. Their two weapons
checked the rush from the rear at the crisis of the fight. Still,
they kept shooting. By the end of action Wolzeak had emp-
tied seventeen ammunition boxes and Crane had fired eleven
In these same seconds when Wolzeak made the astonishing
On Arsenal Hill 47
discovery that he was a born infantry fighter, Flash Arsenal
closed around the hill. It was maintained for four minutes.
Differing little from the curtain barrage of World War I days,
the "flash fire" of Korean operations was an on-call, tightly
sown artillery (plus 4.2 mortar) barrage, usually horseshoe-
shaped and so dropped that it would close around the front
and sides of an outpost ridge. The main idea of a flash fire
was to freeze enemy infantry movement, blocking out the
enemy force on the low ground while locking in such skir-
mishers as had gained the heights. In effect, one battery fired
on each concentration, 120 rounds per minute, two shells
breaking into the ground every second. High explosive and
proximity fuse shells were both used in this blast, the bal-
ance varying according to terrain conditions. While a flash fire
lasted, infantrymen stayed in their fighting positions.
In the usual procedure, a flash fire was delivered with maxi-
mum power for three minutes, the howitzers then cutting
back from twelve to six rounds per tube per minute while
maintaining the fire six minutes. In the Arsenal-Erie action,
the 48th Field fired the maximum rate for four minutes, then
The immediate effect on the garrison was tremendous. In
Murphy's words, "It was like a silver shield thrust between us
and the enemy." But as the horseshoe of hot steel exploded
into the earth around the hill, the dust cloud rose 50 to 60
feet in air, killing all chance for observation and quickly
dulling any appreciation of the spectacle. While the bombard-
ment lasted, the defenders could hear no small-arms fire and
that gave them an illusion of total deliverance. No sooner had
the shells ceased coming than the clatter of the in-fighting
resumed and swelled.
As the flash ended, Murphy returned to the trench, accom-
panied by SFC Kenneth McDaniel, to make a quick round of
48 Pork Chop Hill
the bunkers and see how things were going. They found
Wolzeak, Crane and Kinder's squad still fighting like champs.
But it was amazing how much destruction had been wrought
by the enemy guns in the brief interval.
At least half the trench was now caved in. Four main weap-
ons positions had been destroyed. One BAR man, Cpl. Angel
Seggara, had been blown bodily out of his fire pit and
slammed against a munitions pile; knocked cold, he was other-
wise unhurt. There were five wounded in the wrecked posi-
tions. Pvt. Jim Richards, the medic, was already attending
them. Another BAR man, Private Meadows, had escaped un-
scathed when the embankments of his pit were crushed by
an exploding shell which half-buried him. Twenty yards down
the trench from Meadows, two mortar rounds had smashed
the emplacement and light machine gun serving Private Shive-
ley, though Shiveley, covered by his guardian angel, was still
unscratched. Meadows had rolled over and was now firing
with his BAR from the site where Shiveley had fought, and
Shiveley was assisting him. A third BAR man, Corporal
Sharpe, had been hit in the eyes and wounded in one arm by
a round from the enemy's recoilless gun.
More than this Murphy and McDaniel did not get time to
see in their snap survey of the lines. The situation was again
changing. In the burning CP another hand was reaching for
DeWitt, though still blind, was thinking the harder because
of it He had never given an order in war. He had not been
authorized to take over from Haley. But one thing prompted
him to act
He said to Drake, "I hear grenades outside."
Drake listened and replied, "You're right."
"They're coming closer," said DeWitt, "and there are more
Gn Arsenal Hill 49
Filled with self-doubt, he reached for the PRC-io. The
radio worked; he was talking to Kimmitt, his battalion com-
mander. Uncertainty filled him as he said it, "Give us VT
fire lots of it right on the position/' What followed is
proof of the magic which lies in the right words spoken at a
crucial moment; they have power to change the course of a
life. Back came Kimmitt's voice, "Very good, very good, very
good, son." It was like a light suddenly shining on DeWitt.
Then Kimmitt added this bit of information, "Re-enforce-
ments are coming from Erie."
In a matter of seconds 43 of them the killing shell was
breaking over Arsenal directly above DeWitt's head. He said
of it, "When the VT came in and splashed against our bunker,
it sounded as merciful as falling rain. I have never heard any-
thing sweeter. We could hear it beating on the sandbags and
trenches. During the five minutes I kept wondering if it would
work. That question made it seem like an eternity."
It did work. The night was now bright with flares; all the
ground of Arsenal stood revealed as by a spotlight. From his
bunker Corporal Kinder could see plainly the groupings of
Chinese on the lower slopes. He stayed on the phone, and
as he reported to Drake what he saw, DeWitt kept shifting
the fire. When at last DeWitt closed off the VT, he could
no longer hear the popping of grenades or the chatter of the
burp guns. The Chinese had pulled out. So he called for an-
other flash fire in the hope of overtaking some of the enemy
on the road home.
But by then he and the CP group were working from a dif-
ferent bunker. In the end, the flames had outlasted wind and
muscle and they had lost the fight to save the old CP in the
same minutes that they won the fight to save the hill. When
at last the re-enforcement from Erie arrived, the stress was
50 Pork Chop Hill
Later in the night DeWitt's eyesight returned and he spent
his time helping to regroup Arsenal's infantry garrison and
setting up new positions along the heights of that much-
mauled hill. Every bunker on Arsenal had been either smashed
in or had at least one corner down. All of the wreckage had
come of the Chinese mortar and artillery fire, the defending
guns having been no less accurate than effective.
In this highly compressed action, which had more the na-
ture of an explosion than of a trial by fire-and-movement, end-
ing before it was well begun, Arsenal hill suffered eight dead
and seventeen wounded.
Private Ramey, who had been seated at dead center of the
conflicting barrage fires, was not among them. When the
din quieted, Murphy and Drake were again in the open in-
specting their ruined works. Coming to a tunneled section of
trench which was partly collapsed, they started crawling.
There came a sudden noise as of someone moving to them
over the rubble. Murphy called, "Who's there?" A voice an-
swered, "Private Ramey. I just got back to the hill. But I've
already checked Third Squad position. Don't worry about
them. They're O.K. I was just coming to tell you."
What hurts had been suffered by the Communist enemy
remained unknown. All bodies had been removed from the
works. But the visitors had dropped one interesting souvenir
a chart of Arsenal, showing every main position and trench
with blueprint accuracy, including two bunkers which had
been set up within the preceding 48 hours.
Now that Arsenal was cooling, its leaders could look west-
ward and see fire in the sky beyond the ridged horizon. Hour
2300 had come and passed. The fight begun on their ground,
and carried off by the defenders as if it were a purely local
affair, was spreading now to Dale and Pork Chop Hills. There
On Arsenal Hill 51
the results would be more frustrating and the sweat more pro-
But after Arsenal had called Erie and reported the number
of "Red Sox" (casualties) to be evacuated, it was through with
bloodletting for a time. The Chinese had tried that door,
found it closed, and would not try again.
The mood of the hill when morning came fairly matched
the exultant words of young DeWitt: "I got the worst of it my
first time out; now all the rest of war should be ice cream."
Loss of an Outpost
V V HERE FIRST BATTALION OF 3 1ST REGIMENT SAT THAT NIGHT,
the main line looped across three ridges each roughly U-
shaped. The right and center opened toward the enemy,
while the left-hand ridge was reversed.
Forward of the center ridge 330 yards was Dale Outpost, an
unimpressive bump at the terminus of the big ridge's farthest
extended finger. It rose not more than 220 feet above the val-
ley floor and was connected with the main line by a comma
trench slotted along the straight-running crest line of the fin-
ger. So cramped was the position that Ringling's big show
tent, closed down around Dale, would have concealed the
No other friendly ground was closer to enemy country.
Crisscrossed by Communist trenches, Hill i go-Able stood 20
feet higher than Dale and only 370 yards distant. The massive
ridge beyond it, Hill 222, was garrisoned by a Chinese com-
pany, or so it was estimated. Day and night nothing was seen
to move on 222's entrenched surface. Its people were said to
live in a great chamber cut into the ridge from the rear.
Between Dale and igo-Able was a narrow valley pitted by
shells and studded with blasted tree stumps. Under the full
moon they shone like silver sentinels. Nervous outposts some-
times mistook them for marching men, which led to the
wasting of much artillery.
Loss of an Outpost 53
Hill 222 dominates the valley, being sheerer than the other
ridges. In easy sight to northeast of it is that loathsome hill,
Old Baldy. Opposite Old Baldy, the battalion manned an-
other outpost named Westview, an aerie of machine gun and
rifle posts atop a sheer-walled limerock battlement. Its crown
had barely room for one log-walled bunker too small to cover
one full squad.
Pork Chop was still farther east. One end of it could be
seen from the cap of Westview, which was the extreme shank
of the battalion position.
Old Baldy, scabrous after months of battle, a mountain
looking like a refuse dump, more cheated by nature than
abused by man, was unsuited to the mounting of an attack.
While its superior heights outflanked Pork Chop and made
the manning of Westview seem like wanton defiance, it was
much too naked to afford a concealed approach. The com-
panion peak, Chink Baldy, was more suitable. Tree growth,
rock outcroppings and conveniently spread fingers which de-
scended evenly to the low ground gave it tactical privacy. So
it was to this platform that troops looked, wondering if an
attack would come.
For all hands in Baker Company it was watch night. Third
Platoon garrisoned Dale. Beyond Dale, twelve of its men rode
even closer to the danger, being paired in six foxholed listen-
ing posts which formed a rough crescent around the lower
forward slopes. If the Chinese approached, the listeners were
charged to phone the alarm and then run to the platoon
trench. This echeloning of force a squad covering a platoon,
covering a company materialized what the Eighth Army
called "organization in depth/'
Behind the 12 men nearest the enemy was deployed a rela-
tively strong company. Of the 144 men under Lieut. Jack M.
Patteson, 40 were newly arrived Korean replacements. Man-
The fortifications at Dale Outpost.
Loss of an Outpost 55
ning the outpost was 2nd Lieut. Ryan A. Bressler and 42 men.
Besides personal weapons, his platoon had six light machine
guns, one heavy, seven BARs and two rocket launchers.
Where Patteson ran the company show on the big hill were
11 LMGs, two heavy .305, one .50 machine gun, three 57-mm
recoilless rifles, three 6o-mm mortars and 15 BARs. If the fight
started, air, artillery and armor would support them. But the
integrity of the line came from these few men and their
Until 2300 the night was without incident. Anxiety kept
the greener men wakeful. The more seasoned hands, made
skeptical by frequent experiences with false alarms, sweated
less. Some slept. Others kidded the replacements about the
storm soon to come.
Their calm was broken and their vigil mocked without
warning. No opening barrage was fired. Not one bullet droned.
One moment there was no enemy. The next, he was already
past the listening posts, invading the main trench or closing
on the knob inside the redoubt. The infestation came in utter
silence. Chinese had swarmed over the ground without either
firing or alerting Bressler's men to the need of it.
So it is not strange that when later the survivors were drawn
together to determine how the thing had happened, each man
saw the start differently. The completeness of the surprise and
the closeness of the embrace, by narrowing each fighter's
vision, robbed the defense of unity.
Though Pfc. Joseph E. Smith, a 20-year-old fighter from
Claxton, Ga., may not have been the first witness, he gave the
alarm which rang all the way back to regiment. He had been
with the company but five days and it was mere chance that
put him that night in Listening Post 21, the station nearest the
That fact did not particularly concern him, though he won-
dered, as good men are ever prone to do, whether if an attack
56 Pork Chop Hill
came, he could play a strong part. At 2302, he just happened to
glance flankward toward Listening Post 20 on the next ridge
finger. And then he saw it: a "whole mob of Chinese" were
past the LP and scrambling upward toward the main trench.
Many things happened during those next few seconds.
Smith grabbed the phone connecting him with Dressier
and said, "The Chinks are on the hill in great numbers;
they've gone past LP 20." Bressler asked, "Are you sure?" At
that moment, Smith's teammate in the LP fired a quick burst
downslope with his Mi. Smith said, "Now they're in front of
me," and Bressler answered, "Run for the hill!" Smith emp-
tied a clip downslope, turned and sprinted for the rampart.
By then the air around him buzzed with bullet fire.
From his squad position on the left-hand switch of Dale's
main trench, Pvt. Duane C. Pfaff saw men moving between
the two LPs. But the silence nonplused him; if these were
enemy, someone should be shooting. He put carbine to
shoulder but still hesitated to fire.
To CpL John H. Droney in the main trench 30 yards from
Pfaff, the first word came when Pvt. Lee Chang Woo jumped
from the parapet yelling, "Chinks coming up the finger." Woo
had been posted in LP 17 at the base of Dale's rear slope.
Droney ran for a machine-gun bunker to start the action. As
he reached for the ammunition, he glanced over his shoulder
uphill and saw twenty or so Chinese standing atop the knob
in the center of the outpost. Still, not a shot had been fired.
Droney tried to swing the gun around, and in his excitement
wedged the barrel in the bunker door-casement. He ran toward
the CP crying, "They're in the trenches!"
In the same bunker sat the platoon sergeant, SFC Robert
C. Reasor. Bressler had put him there with instructions that
if an attack came, he was to get on the sound power and
adjust mortar fire on the approach via Moore's Finger, which
Seen from above and forward, Dale Outpost seemed stout enough,
such were the steepness of its slopes and the commanding line taken
by its bunkers and partly roofed trenches.
5 8 Pork Chop Hill
ran like a ramp from the valley to the CP. Half-dozing,
Reasor had watched Droney's struggle with the machine gun
without realizing it signaled danger. When Droney cried,
"They're in the trenches! 7 ' Reasor came awake.
Pfc. Nathaniel Williams saw the Chinese as they charged
up Moore's Finger, at least forty men rushing him from a dis-
tance of not more than 40 yards. He said to Pfc. Eddie Sales,
"Look there! Chinks!" At that moment the enemy pack en-
tered the beam of a searchlight which flooded part of Dale's
slopes. Sales looked and answered, "Yeh, Chinks/' then
reached for the sound power to call Bressler. Perfectly high-
lighted, the Chinese came on. Yet neither man thought to
use his weapon.
As Reasor got to the bunker door, Cpl. Chung Kyung Moon
and Pvt. Joe Dawson jumped into the trench, completing their
run from one of the LPs. Moon cried, "They're right behind
us!" Reasor jumped for a phone to call Bressler and ask for
VT fire. The line was already dead. So Reasor ran toward the
CP. Halfway, he met Dawson again who laughed and said,
"Look! They're still behind us." But this time he pointed
uphill toward an enemy group inside the position.
There had as yet been no real fighting. But the best part of
two Communist platoons had already penetrated the position
from opposite directions. On right of the hill, one enemy force
was gaining the trench atop Moore's Finger, and on left of the
hill, another swarm was headed up Angel Finger. At least
eight men had seen the enemy advance. But only Private
Smith's warning had gotten through to Bressler.
Also, Smith's shooting from the LP launched the fire fight.
Thereafter, the following things occurred more or less coin-
Worrying about Smith, who was one of his men, Pfaff
picked up his phone which was on a "hot loop" connecting
Loss of an Outpost 59
Bressler with all of his squads and the six listening posts. It
was just in time to hear Bressler tell Smith to run for the hill.
Pfaff ducked from out the bunker and looked downslope.
Smith was already running for the trench, and half-carrying
Pvt Felipe Rodriguez who was screaming, "My arm! My
arm!" A burst of tommy-gun fire had shredded it from shoul-
der to elbow. Pfaff reached for the wounded Puerto Rican,
eased him into the trench and yelled, "Get to the CP for first
aid!" There was no need to say anything to Private Smith.
He had seen that the squad's machine-gun bunker was silent,
and he sprang to it. Seconds after hitting the trench, he was
pouring fire down Angel Finger, The kid from Georgia had
an instinct for fighting; in crisis he was incapable of doing
things the wrong way.
From somewhere down the trench toward the front of the
hill, Pfaff heard a yell, "Get VT fire!" It was clear as a bugle
call. Without waiting to determine who had yelled, Pfaff
again got on the phone to Bressler, saying, "We must have
VT fire." Here was a startling example of assumption of re-
sponsibility by a 2o-year-old private, his first time in battle,
taken by surprise and burdened by the knowledge that for the
first time in his life he was responsible for the lives of other
men. Under rotation conditions, the average combat unit of
the United States Army often had less than half the officer
and NCO grades specified by the tables of organization. Pfaff
had only that morning been named a squad leader, normally
a sergeant's job.
The shout heard by Pfaff had come from Sgt. Robert L.
Smith whose squad, extended rightward from PfafFs sector,
covered the left side of the nose of Dale Outpost. A 22-year-
old farmer from Phillipsburg, Kansas, "Big" Smith, as the
company later nicknamed Him (to distinguish him from
"Little" Smith, the private), was physically the giant of the
60 Pork Chop Hill
company. Big Smith's first knowledge that the hill was beset
came from the blaze of automatic fire which followed Little
Smith's exit from his LP. He was sitting at a machine gun.
With one hand he opened fire down Angel Finger while with
the other he reached for the telephone to call Bressler. There
was no response and he realized the line was dead. So he cried
aloud what he had intended to say to Bressler. But he was
scarcely aware he had said it and he didn't know that Pfaff
had heard. So he yelled to the first aid man, Private First Class
Scully, "Take over the gun!" It was in his mind that he must
run to Pfaff s position and tell him to phone for VT fire as
quickly as it could be delivered.
In the interim, Bressler had relayed both Private Smith's
warning and Pfaff's request to Lieutenant Patteson on the
big hill. Patteson ran for his observation point from where
he could look directly down on Dale Outpost. His eyes con-
firmed the story. He could see, under the searchlight, a mob
of Chinese milling around on the knob of Dale Outpost. But
there were no signs of reaction from his own Third Platoon.
The first Chinese had been sighted by LP 20 and reported
to Bressler at 2302. At 2305, Patteson, taking his reckoning
in the CP, and getting the second message relayed from
Pfaff, called Maj. Clifford W. Morrow, the battalion execu-
tive, and requested flash fires on Dale Outpost. As he put
down the phone, he changed his mind, called again and asked
that flares first be fired to warn the garrison, followed by VT.
By his first estimate, the situation was already so desperate as
to warrant the risk of killing his own men. Instinctive caution
made him modify it.
When the two requests hit the fire control center almost to-
gether, it temporarily flummoxed the artillery. There was long
argument about whether to shoot VT without first putting
lights over the hill. When the decision went the other way,
Loss of an Outpost 61
the flares burned so far to the right of Dale that Patteson
knew his own men wouldn't be warned by them.
In the end that mattered very little. Patteson's one-eyed
view of the fight, seen through a glass from 450 yards behind
the outpost, was only slightly distorted. His estimate of where
the balance lay was accurate. But he was wrong in thinking
that his own people weren't fighting back. A few big men
were still going strong on the little hill.
That their supreme individual efforts went uncollected and
uncommanded was no one's fault in particular. The rush of
events had tied Bressler to his phone in the CP bunker. Like
the others who had started in that direction, Sergeant Reasor,
his second in command, became accidentally diverted, never
completing his journey. As he stopped to talk to Dawson, a
bullet through the shoulder knocked Dawson flat in the
trench. Reasor picked him up and carried him to Droney's
bunker, forgetting his intention to see Bressler. Corporal
Moon was inside with a bullet through his groin. Eight other
men were either loafing inside the bunker or idling outside
the door. Reasor formed them along the trench and stayed
with them, worried now that if he left the others, they would
quit. They fought as a block, the four in the middle firing
alternately downhill and upslope while the end pairs fired
along the trenches. Reasor used Moon's carbine until it was
shot from his hands. Then he got Dawson's Mi and continued
fighting. It was. the one solid piece of defensive resistance
within the platoon.
Not until he jumped from his bunker to seek Pfaff did Big
Smith know that the Chinese were already inside the out-
post and possessing the high ground. He saw at least twenty
of them scrambling up the slope above his head. They gre-
naded back at him, and as he ran toward Pfaff, one grenade
bounced off his shoulder and exploded harmlessly among
the sandbags. So when Pfaff first saw him, Big Smith was
62 Pork Chop Hill
pointing to the crest and yelling, "Watch out! They're coming
over from behind you."
Pfaff understood him immediately and started down the
trench to turn the fire of his squad from downslope to up-
slope. He yelled back to Big Smith, "I'll try to stop them."
But that was the last that Big Smith saw of him during the
fight. He was already doubling back to see what his own men
were doing, clean forgetting that he had run to Pfaff to ask
him to message Bressler. There were only six men in Smith's
squad. He would have to leave it to PfafFs six men to handle
the penetration. Unless his own six could halt the uprush to *
the big trench, the position was gone. One thing comforted
him as he ran: the LMG in Pfaff 's squad bunker was burning
up the slope of Angel Finger. At least one man was giving the
Chinese a hard fight. He didn't know it was Private Smith,
and the name in any case would have meant nothing, for they
had not yet met But their introduction was coming.
By then the clock had ticked seven minutes since the fight
began. The first VT shell from the American guns broke over
the outpost as Big Smith returned to his squad sector. It had
taken Lieutenant Patteson until 2309 to get the fire adjusted
so that the hot steel rained down exactly where he wanted it.
The artillery FOs had been telling him that it was right on
target. But they were looking at it from a different angle, and
his eyes told him that the first fires were 1 50 yards too far to
the right. When at last it came good, he was in despair, cer-
tain that at least a full Chinese company was inside his for-
ward works and that his own platoon, if not dead, was wholly
The close-up view, as seen by Big Smith, wouldn't have
solaced him. One of his Korean riflemen had already fled the
position and wasn't seen again. Privates Small and Faria were
down, Small with a bullet through his belly and Faria with a
shattered hand. Faria, least hurt of the two> was screaming, "My
Loss of an Outpost 63
God help me!" Big Smith couldn't stand the noise. He told
Small to take Faria to the CP for first aid. There was no way
of knowing that already the CP was beyond helping anyone.
Private Serpa jumped into the trench. The enemy rush had
trapped him in an LP, but he had kept his nerve and man-
aged an escape in the darkness. Without saying a word to
Smith, he grabbed some grenades and began throwing up-
slope. Smith got the point. It was useless with the forces at
hand to attempt a fight in both directions; he would have to
depend on the VT fire to purge the lower slope. He jumped
for the machine-gun bunker. As he made the door, a white
phosphorus grenade exploded in air and showered his clothing.
He shook off the pellets and turned toward the gun, yelling,
"Scully! Scully!" In the darkness, he couldn't see that the aid
man was already dead and lying on the far side of the Brown-
ing heavy .30. Thinking that Scully must have quit the gun,
Big Smith swung it around and fired upslope. But the weight,
the angle and the obtrusion of the trench wall made the fire
Then looking for, but missing, Serpa, Big Smith experienced
that most wretched of moments when an infantryman finds
himself utterly alone in a fire fight. He ran toward PfafF s sec-
tor where he had seen the LMG firing. Little Smith in the
interim had had his weapon shot out of his hands by a burst
of tommy-gun fire through the embrasure. He was already in
the trench and grenading uphill when Big Smith saw him for
the first time.
He said, "My name's Smith/'
Answered Private Smith, "So's mine. Watch me, I'm just
From where they stood, they could grenade both uphill and
down. Flankward in either direction, it was a good 25 yards
to a turn in the trench line. Little Smith had brought to the
spot a full case of grenades and an ammo can filled with loose
64 Pork Chop Hill
grenades. He had already thrown nineteen grenades against
the Chinese on the upper slope. So with his work cut out for
him, Big Smith conformed. Surrounded, they stood back to
back, grenading all around the clock.
Their last stand was maintained in this manner for approx-
imately ten minutes. Big Smith still had his carbine and Little
Smith his Mi. But because of the lack of clear sightings and
defined targets, there was no payoff in these weapons. During
this stage Private Serpa came back to them wriggling along
the parapet. But he didn't join the fight. His Mi had jammed
and a grenade explosion had numbed his right arm.
They got down to their last two grenades. They had thrown
about forty and had drawn a little blood as they knew from
the flashes and the screaming. At least a dozen enemy bombs
had exploded within a lo-yard circle of where they stood but
fast footwork had kept them unhurt.
Until Big Smith yelled, "Hold the grenade!" they had
fought without a word. He signaled his intentions by fitting
carbine to shoulder. They had cleared the immediate slope
and the surviving Chinese had crowded down into the main
trench. Then for perhaps another five minutes, they held the
enemy at bay, Little Smith firing one way down the trench
with his Mi, Big Smith spraying carbine fire in the opposite
direction. In the same split second they ran out of bullets:
during those minutes Big Smith had fired a full belt and Little
Smith had fired at least six clips. From Little Smith's end of
the trench, a squad of Chinese charged toward them as the
rifles went silent. They had already pulled the grenade pins.
Big Smith yelled, "Throw!" Both grenades landed and ex-
ploded right amid the enemy pack. Several Chinese went
down and the others recoiled.
Little Smith asked, "What do we do now?"
Big Smith said, "Over the side! Give me your foot!"
Loss of an Outpost 65
He threw the smaller man over the parapet. (Little Smith
is 5 feet 10 inches and weighs 172 pounds.) With a vault, Big
Smith landed right behind him. Together they rolled about
15 yards downhill. There, Big Smith grabbed his partner by
the leg and held him. Serpa had rolled with them and was
"What do we do now?" asked Little Smith.
Said Big Smith, "You're dead. No matter what happens,
don't move. It's the only chance."
The new game was improvised on the spur of the moment.
The three of them were to play it for the next four and one-
half hours on a spotlighted field rocked by shellfire from the
ridges held by friend and enemy. In those hours, by their own
account, they thought of little or nothing. An infantryman
may play dead until by self-hypnosis he rejects thoughts of
past and future, and minutes become contracted to seconds.
It is not quite true that mortal man may not look directly
either at death or the sun. The big flares fired by the American
155$ already made their lost hill bright as day. But this they
did not see as they lay with faces down and eyes closed not
even turning to look at each other.
Back at Regiment, Colonel Kern was sweating out two re-
ports, one from the artillery that the fires on Dale were now
satisfactory, the other from Patteson that the guns were still
doing but half a job. The VT fire was at last coming in where
it should be, but there was no volume. Patteson wanted sat-
uration fire, not merely a few occasional rounds. He counted
his men lost and was thinking only about how to kill the
enemy. It took him another quarter-hour to get what he
Dale's defense was already disintegrated, though Pfaff,
Reasor and the few other diehards didn't know it The platoon
became lost in the few minutes when the Communists had
66 Pork Chop Hill
passed the big trench and mounted the knob on scaling lad-
ders. It mattered very little that, combined with the American
VT fire, their own artillery came in on the Chinese, killing
many of them in the open before they could strike a blow with
their hand-carried weapons. The sufficient number remained
quick and moving to abet the shellfire in its work of destroy-
ing the defense. From the enemy platoon which had won the
high ground, one squad peeled off and, running downslope,
entered the main trench between PfafFs squad and the pla-
Of this entry Pfaff was unaware as he ran in that direction
trying to pry his men from the bunkers so that they would
fight for the trench. Sergeant Reasor and his scratch squad
had already been driven back from the CP area by an enemy
wave which swept up Moore's Finger and into the trench,
thereby completing their envelopment. But even Reasons situ-
ation remained unknown to Pfc. Frank Minor and Pvt. Ran-
dolph Mott who together were defending a fighting bunker
just 10 yards from the CP, and not more than 35 yards down
the trench from Reasons group. Both men were having their
first bath of fire. Mott, who was to win two Silver Stars
within 30 days, is a country boy from Maine. Tall, angular,
stoop-shouldered, slow of step, deliberate of speech, he habitu-
ally wears a good-natured grin. Hollywood would never pick
him as a fighter type and in his first minutes of battle he didn't
react like one.
So swiftly had come the on-fall that it seemed unreal to
Mott He wasn't dazed, he felt no fear, but he saw no reason
to get excited. When his rifle jammed from a ruptured car-
tridge after he had fired a few rounds down Moore's Finger,
he dropped the weapon and fell in beside Minor to serve as
BAR loader. Minor was shaky but doing his best. Mott fig-
ured a little close assistance would steady him. Neither man
Loss of an Outpost 67
knew the Chinese already held the height above the bunker
since no one came to tell them.
Mott was shocked out of his lethargy by a heavy explosion
from the direction of the CP, Mott's own bunker shook from
the impact. After the action, platoon survivors said, "Two ar-
tillery shells hit the CP roof right together/' But there was
really no way of knowing this; the blast that hit the CP may
have come from a hand-thrown satchel charge. Next Mott
heard a man screaming in pain. It roused him as nothing else
had done. He knew his leader hardly at all. But something
told him that the cry came from Bressler and that the lieu-
tenant was mortally wounded.
He went for the bunker door and looked down the trench.
The CP was in ruins, its roof caved in and its nearest wall
half-down. A Chinese stood at the broken entrance shining a
flashlight inward. Mott saw at least five other Chinese with
him. Oddly then, instead of grabbing the BAR, he yelled to
Minor, "Hand me a cleaning rod!" The Chinese holding the
flashlight heard the shout and turned the beam on Mott. He
ducked within the bunker and with one violent thrust cleared
his weapon. As he made the door again, he saw the enemy
group still bunched outside the CP. He emptied the weapon
and saw three men fall. Two others ran directly past him be-
fore he could pull again. The sixth Chinese jumped for cover
behind the sandbag superstructure of Motf s own bunker.
Like most other works of the kind along this grotesquely en-
gineered American front, the bunker loomed so high above
the outwork that an enemy gaining the wall was in perfect
position to enfilade the trench.
This boarder had no such aim. Mott nipped into the trench
trying to catch his silhouette against the skyline. But the man
was already over the roof and flattened. Leaning down the
face of the bunker, he tossed two grenades in the embrasure.
68 Pork Chop Hill
They exploded under Minor and shattered his legs. An en-
gineer sergeant, who until then had been sitting quietly in a
corner, bestirred himself to help Mott lift Minor into a bunk.
Reaching for the BAR, Mott found it dry of ammunition.
So doing, he stumbled across a pile of filled sandbags. He
yelled to the engineer, "Help me fill the window!" While
they heaved at the bags and stuffed the embrasure, three more
grenades came through. Mott fielded them with a quick pitch
through the bunker door. As he clutched the third one on the
darkened floor, touch told him it was American issue. He
scooped it up and outward in one motion. It exploded just
beyond the door frame in the faces of a second Chinese party
rushing the bunker.
That inspired him to search the bunker for more grenades.
He found a full case. Then he stood at the bunker door gre-
nading toward the mouth of the chogi trench which led back
to the main line. Targets were plentiful. By that time the
Chinese in large numbers had climbed the saddle at the rear
of Dale Outpost and the back door was bending to their
weight. While his grenade supply lasted, Mott would fight.
When it ended, he would plug the bunker door from the in-
side, as he had done the embrasure, and try to stay the night.
Private PfafFs sortie down the trench line, made to rally
the other men in the same minutes when Mott started func-
tioning in the fight, proved futile. In the first bunker were five
of the platoon's Koreans. Each was armed with a BAR. None
was firing. Their inertia was robbing the defense of a great
part of its most useful fire power.
Pfaff yelled, "Come out and fight!" Not a man stirred. He
tried it again, "Come out or 111 kill you!" They pulled back
to the far wall and became lost in the darkness. Two ideas
blocked his impulse. He wasn't sure he had authority, and if
he spent bullets there, he'd disarm himself. So he walked on
Loss of an Outpost 69
down the trench. Within a few minutes the five Koreans were
grenaded to death in the bunker where Pfaff left them, para-
lyzed by their own fear.
At the next bunker, Pfaff saw a Chinese setting up a heavy
machine gun on the roof. He fired once with his carbine and
the man pitched backward down the slope. A second Chinese
took his place and a second bullet got him.
Passing the CP bunker, and seeing that the roof was down,
Pfaff sang out, "Anybody in there?" No answer came back.
Possibly his voice was drowned by battle sound. Pfaff simply
took it that Bressler and his assistants had moved elsewhere
on the outpost. At the fifth bunker he joined Pfc. Dwight
Marlowe who sat nonchalantly on the roof firing a machine
gun down Angel Finger as if he enjoyed the work. For two
minutes they sat back to back. There was no conversation.
Uphill 30 feet away, three Chinese, armed with burp guns,
were trying to dust Marlowe from the roof. The fire was going
high overhead. Pfaff fired his carbine just long enough to
silence them. It distracted Marlowe not at all. He kept the
LMG shooting downslope, and turned only long enough to
yell to Pfaff, "Go to the next bunker; they need help."
At the door of the next bunker stood Pfc. Rivera W. Ro-
driguez, a Puerto Rican, firing down the trench toward the
chogi trail with his Mi. Within the bunker were five engineer
privates who had come to the hill in early evening to work on
fortifications. As the fight started, a satchel charge put through
the embrasure had mangled all five men; three were uncon-
scious. Rodriguez, with a bullet through one arm, was trying
to guard them. Pfaff dressed Rodriguez' wound crudely and
then said, "Cover them a little longer; 111 get more bandages
at the CP."
He could barely force his way into the ruin. The air was
heavy with dust and powder fumes. A thin voice called to him,
70 Pork Chop Hill
"Help GI, help GI, help GI." He knew it was Bressler. He
crawled along the floor. A second voice, still closer to him,
kept whispering, "Help . . . help . . . help/' He could
barely hear it but he crawled toward it. In the darkness, he
felt over the body of Sgt. Chapman T. Spencer. He was leg-
less from the hips down.
Bressler called to him again, "Come to me! Come to me!"
Weak, the note was still insistent. He left Spencer and crawled
toward Bressler. From the ruined doorway a Chinese opened
fire with a tommy gun. The bullets splashed among the fallen
timbers as he crawled. He got to Bressler. The lieutenant's
legs were pinned by two of the fallen beams. Pfaff strained
and sweated to free him. The effort was useless. Sandbags
from the ruined roof pinned down the beams.
He tugged on. Three grenades came through the door and
exploded in arm's reach of him. The same beams which kept
Bressler pinned insulated the explosion and saved his life.
Bressler said, "Quit it now; you can't help me."
Pfaff said, "Then 111 stay with you."
Bressler said, "No, your job is to go get help. That's our
only chance. Tell Patteson I said to put artillery fire on the
hill and keep it there."
Pfaff wondered at that: couldn't Bressler hear the artillery
already pounding the hill?
He said, "I'd better stay."
Bressler said, "You are to go. It's an order."
There was a small exit on the far side. Pfaff crawled toward
it. As he made the opening, a wounded Chinese, moving on
all fours along the outside wall, tried to raise his tommy gun.
Pfaff was carrying an unpinned grenade. He rolled it and the
explosion blew the man apart.
Within the wrecked bunker there had been a third dying
American. Sgt. Fred Jackson had had his chest crushed by the
Loss of an Outpost 71
roof timbers. But he was unconscious and Pfaff missed him
in the darkness. Due to Bressler's self-possession the scene had
been carried off without emotion. Once more in the open,
Pfaff was intent only on carrying out the order, and in his
agitation clean forgot his promise to return to Rodriguez. He
ran for the chogi trench. Hardly had he entered it when a
squad of Chinese blocked his path. He threw a grenade, and
without waiting for the explosion, jumped from the trench
and went down the slope in a diving roll. By sheer luck he
landed in a shallow gully which ran under the concertina en-
tanglement. Then he started for the company position on the
big hill. His feet were like lead and he could hardly summon
the energy to move them.
By now the fight had been going just a little less than one
hour. Mott had walled-in his bunker. The two Smiths and
Serpa were playing dead under the lights. Of Second Platoon,
only Reasor and his men still stood their ground. But they
were no longer fighting. For about thirty minutes, they had
maintained steady fire around their circle with Mi and car-
bine. The concentration kept the Chinese either under cover
or at a respectful distance. But at the end of the half-hour all
weapons were out of ammunition.
Their predicament was eased only because by then the
Chinese in the vicinity were in the same plight. Reasor saw
them wandering back and forth across the knob obviously
searching for something to fire. They were in such numbers
that they could have crushed his group by sheer physical
weight had they grouped and rushed the trench. But they
moved like sheep, seeming too dazed even to seek defilade
against the VT fire. It was agonizing to the Americans to see
these targets moving freely within less than 20 yards of where
they stood, helpless to cut them down.
Reasor had been annoyed for some time by the periodic fir-
72 Pork Chop Hill
ing of an LMG which sounded very close. Finally, he said to
one of his riflemen, ''Where in hell is that gun?" The boy said,
"Just look up: it's on the bunker roof directly above your
head." There being no way to shoot him down, Reasor
jumped on the sandbag revetment, grabbed the gunner around
the knees and spun him and his weapon down into the valley.
That made the situation scarcely less awkward. The nine
men were wholly surrounded. The trench was blocked in both
directions. There was nothing to fire and no one paid them
the slightest heed. Flares brightened the ground all around.
Shellfire continued to rock the hill. They simply sucked in
their guts and hugged the shadow of the trench wall. For at
least two hours they stayed that way, silent and motionless.
As midnight came, Lieutenant Patteson, at his position in
the OP, still could not tell for certain how things were going
on Dale. No word had gotten back to him since Bressler's two
telephone calls. As he listened, the small-arms fire on Dale
seemed greatly diminished, but he could only guess at the
reasons for it. After coordinating with Battalion, he called his
Second Platoon and told Lieut. George L. Hermman to get
his men forward and support Bressler as soon as he was re-
lieved on his own ground by a platoon from Item Company.
That necessitated requesting that his own artillery cease fire
to let Hermman get to the hill.
Hermman didn't wait. Leaving the rest of his men in place,
he started forward with one squad under Cpl. Edward
Shuman. By the time this small band reached the chogi
trail, another Chinese wave was moving up the saddle from
At ten minutes past midnight, Pfaff, breathless and shaking
from his exertions, got back to Patteson. For several minutes
he stood there panting, unable to speak. Patteson, a coldly
precise youngster who maintained markedly formal relations
Loss of an Outpost 73
with ranks, waited for the storm to subside. When at last
Pfaff gasped, "I'm from Third Platoon/' Patteson realized for
the first time that this was one "of his own men. He asked,
"What's the situation?"
Regaining his wind and poise in those few seconds by an
extreme effort, Pfaff made his report as methodically as an
old soldier, "Bressler and Spencer are both badly wounded
and pinned by logs in the CP bunker. The CP is in ruins. I
tried to move Bressler but couldn't. He said for me to come
tell you that the platoon needs help. He said you must keep
artillery firing on the hill. The Chinese are all over the
trenches and bunkers."
Pfaff said nothing else about his own actions and Patteson
asked him no questions. Then the kid's legs buckled under
him and he sprawled on the bunker floor. Patteson helped him
to his own bed, then called Battalion and reported what he
had heard. Bressler's words about artillery were not relayed;
because Hermman's platoon was going forward, the fires had
already been suspended.
But the Pfaff report, relayed from Battalion to Regiment,
convinced Colonel Kern that the outpost was already lost, and
that if it was to be regained before morning, he'd have to put
at least another company through Patteson's position. He
called Lieut. Col. George L. Maliszewski, commander of
Third Battalion, and told him to get ready.
Lieutenant Hermman's force, losing almost an hour in tra-
versing the rough ground, got to the chogi trail in a strength
of twenty-four men, two squads having overtaken him during
the march from the main line. Up to that point, they had
moved without incident. Then without warning they found
themselves attacked from three sides by the Chinese who
were climbing toward the chogi trench on both slopes while
a third group blocked the entrance to Dale Outpost
74 Pork Chop Hill
Pvt. John H. Dawson yelled, "The Chinks are on our
right! " and Pvt. Esequiel Leos answered, 'They're on our
left!" Corporal Shuman, opening fire with his BAR, aimed
straight along the trench, dissolving the enemy group in the
foreground. With rifles and grenades the men to his rear
opened fire down the slope. The Chinese weren't routed. But
after a few men died, the others sought protection behind the
rocks. Four of Hermman's men were hit by the countergre-
nading. For the moment the passage became quiet and the
platoon surged forward.
Hermman got up to Mott's bunker. Mott heard him yell,
cleared the sandbags away from the door and joined the
party. Shuman, Dawson, Leos and two others had meantime
started down the trench on the other side of the outpost, still
thinking that after mopping up a few Chinese, they would
become solid with Third Platoon.
Of the group continuing with Hermman, thirteen were new
Korean replacements. Mortar shells were now ranging in on
the trench line, coming in four-round salvos. Hermman told
the Koreans to continue down the trench and clean out the
bunkers. They shook their heads and refused to move.
By sheer coincidence Sergeant Reasor was deciding in these
moments that if his group was ever to get out, he would have
to make a break for it. He had not heard either Hermman's
yelling or Shuman's movement, and he was still unaware that
a support party had arrived on the hill. Reasor said, "Follow
me!" and they went. Corporal Droney had found a last clip
of carbine ammunition within the bunker and, being the
only armed man, brought up the rear.
It was about 0200 when Reasons party stumbled into Herm-
man hard by the CP bunker. Spencer and Bressler may still
have been alive at the time. But if there was any thought of
them it was diverted by the action of the next few seconds.
Loss of an Outpost 75
Hermman, arguing with his Koreans, was yelling, "Get the
hell on!" Some of his GIs were kicking the ROKs in a vain
attempt to get them started. They simply looked blank.
Reasor heard a noise right behind him. Glancing upslope
he saw two Chinese setting up an HMG not more than 20
feet away. So he grabbed a grenade from a Korean and threw;
it exploded at head level, killing both men.
As the sound died, four mortar shells came in dead on the
group. Three exploded along the embankments. One landed
in the trench. One shard pierced Hermman's leg and went up
to his intestines. Three of Reasons men were also wounded.
Another round, exploding through the embankment, had
sprayed fragments among the recalcitrant ROKs, wounding
four and killing two.
There followed several minutes of confusion. By radio
Hermman got word that Shuman and his men on the other
side of the outpost had been checked by tommy-gun fire and
were starting back toward the chogi trench. He called Patte-
son and said, "I'm hit and IVe lost ten men out of twenty-
four." He didn't say he had to withdraw but Patteson drew
that conclusion, telling him, "Fall back on Check Point One,"
which was an outguard position between Dale and the main
So Hermman called out to his men, "Fall back on Jackson!"
that being the code name for Check Point No. i. No one had
ever told Reasor about that code name. But one soldier in his
group was a Private Jackson and this character was already
running for the chogi trench. Misunderstanding Hermman,
Reasor took out after Pvt Jackson and two of his men fol-
lowed. Split from Hermman, they collided with a Chinese
party at the mouth of the chogi trench and recoiled, once
more taking refuge in a bunker on the other side of Dale.
At this stage of the fight, had the Americans moved quickly,
76 Pork Chop Hill
the hill might have been saved by re-enforcing Hermman. His
party and Reasor's men (except for the last minor incident)
had not been hard pushed at close range for at least forty
minutes. They had lost men to grenade and mortar fire. A few
Chinese, fighting singly, had harassed them, but no large
organized group had come against them. From these signs, it
is apparent that the prolonged VT fire had almost liquidated
the enemy on Dale, either killing or driving to cover all but a
handful of the hardiest.
But the Americans on the ground were too distracted by
their own losses to feel the temporary drop in in-fighting
pressure, just as the people at the higher levels were physically
too remote to sense it. Patteson suspected that the Chinese
had lost their grip. But with Hermman hit and half his force
gone, he saw no way to exploit the suspected opening. And
there was another thing. By suspending all artillery fires so
that Hermman could go forward, the Americans had supplied
the enemy a helpful interlude. If the Communists were pre-
pared to reenforce, they would come on now, and Hermman
would be caught by the counterattack. Reluctantly, Patteson
had given the withdrawal- order.
Still, it was easier said than done. Private Mott tried to lead
the way, and others among the few able-bodied joined him
in trying to rally and support the wounded men. But another
grenade exploded among them and two more men were
wounded. They were now eighteen casualties and nine unhurt
men. As this crippled column formed and started toward the
chogi trench, the saddle came under full bombardment by
the enemy mortars. Before Hermman could complete the
passage, the party sank back to earth, shocked into immobil-
ity by its wounds, fear and sweat.
Pita. Sgt. Burton Ham alone got through to Patteson and
told him what had happened. 2nd Lieut. Benjamin L. Collins,
Loss of an Outpost 77
who had joined the company just that afternoon, was told to
round up a rescue group to go to Hermman. Because Collins
didn't know the way, Ham volunteered to return with him.
There were twelve others. They found Hermman and his
party strung out over 250 yards of trail and hill. Some of the
nonwounded were so exhausted that they could not rise un-
aided. Collins wanted to take Hermman out first because he
was bleeding badly; Hermman refused to move until the last
of his party was evacuated past him. Eighteen men were
brought out. Seven were wholly down and made the return
journey either on stretchers or other men's backs. By the end
of twenty-five minutes, Collins had done all possible; he re-
turned half-carrying Hermman, who had insisted on coming
out last. First aid had been applied on the spot while the
bandages lasted. It took the tail of the column another forty-
five minutes to cover the 400 yards of trail between Dale and
the Company CP. By then, all hands, including Collins' men,
In the interval, Patteson, watching from the CP, saw an-
other Chinese company charge up Moore's Finger. One of his
own .50 machine guns was mounted in the CP. He told the
gunner to fire on the ridge finger. As the gun got the range
and line, Patteson saw a few of the enemy fall and others
waver, but the great number disappeared into the main
Again he called for VT fire against the outpost. This time
there was reluctance to give it At Regiment there was in-
sistence that only a strong counterattack could clear the hill
and prolonged VT fire would interfere with the mounting of
it. Patteson was obdurate and kept saying, "I want it/' After
fifteen minutes they gave it to him and it came in right on the
nose and perfectly timed to disintegrate a column of enemy
78 Pork Chop Hill
bearers trooping down Moore's Finger with their own
For the next few minutes, and until the counterattack was
ready, Patteson saw no reason to withhold anything. Not
knowing that the two Smiths and Serpa were playing dead on
the forward slope, he figured the hill was clear of living Amer-
icans. By doubling the fire curtain, the artillery still might
exact payment for all that had been lost. So the flares played
without intermission and hot steel swept the hill all along its
To the two Smiths that made little difference until at last
one VT frag got Serpa through the back. He groaned loudly
and half-arose. Big Smith pulled his feet from under him and,
falling flat, Serpa lay perfectly still. As they glanced his way
and saw his face buried in the dirt, the Smiths wondered if
he was dead. But he was conscious and biting his lip to stifle
his involuntary reaction to the pain.
Another Chinese company came forward at the run, charg-
ing up Angel Finger. One squad ran directly toward the three
Americans. The lead man stumbled across Big Smith, and as
he fell, the others who followed him piled up on Little Smith
This was the climax of the ordeal. Their inert bodies rolled
with the blow. The enemy squad jumped up and ran straight
on. This time Big Smith whispered, "We made it/' and when
Serpa whispered, "And how!" they knew they were three
Not another word was said during the night Big Smith
looked occasionally toward Serpa wondering how badly he was
bleeding. He had made up his mind that if help did not come
before first light, he would try to carry Serpa out on his back.
Attack and Repulse
O3OO THE ARTILLERY FIRES ORDERED BY LIEUTENANT
Patteson against Dale Outpost were again lifted.
There had not been enough of it to neutralize the hill. But
Lieutenant Colonel Maliszewski had reached the big hill with
two platoons from Item Company. Maliszewski was ready to
counterattack as promptly as he knew the measure of the job.
As well as he could, Patteson described the situation, for-
getting, however, to tell Maliszewski that Bressler and Spencer
were trapped in the CP and there was reason to think they
might still be alive. It was a significant oversight, since
Maliszewski presupposed that all installations were solidly in
enemy hands and his men should be prepared to blast out
After weighing what was told him, Maliszewski decided to
attack with two platoons in line, using both of them on the
right side of the ridge, which would put the sweep up and
over Moore's Finger.
It was a simple plan and he wanted half an hour to mount
it, so that his troops could get to the low ground and ready
to spring, and to allow time for additional artillery prepara-
tion. The artillery was to stonk the outpost with VT and
lights again beginning at 0315. At 0330, he would put up a
red flare signaling that the fires should lift
With some nudging from Maliszewski, Patteson built up
8o Pork Chop Hill
on that idea. While the two Item platoons were readying on
the right side, he would move his own First Platoon from the
big hill to the valley. Then, as the artillery fires lifted, First
Platoon would attack up Angel Finger on the left side of the
It sounded good to Maliszewski. As seen by the two men
from the high ground, the problem seemed susceptible to this
two-winged approach and double envelopment. Neither fully
appreciated that the outpost was just high enough to separate
the two actions, deprive both bodies of any feeling of close
support and make co-ordination impossible.
Maliszewski walked down to where Lieutenant Collins
stood in the bunker at Check Point No. i. Seven of Collins'
men had sufficiently recovered from their labor of rescuing
Hermman to help him man the outguard. Maliszewski told
Collins that he would welcome his group as a re-enforcement
during the attack. Having his first taste of battle, Collins was
On the other side of the hill, the pincher was in charge of
2nd Lieut Glenn R. Yokum, also untried in a fire fight, look-
ing almost too small for a soldier suit and too shy to com-
mand. Yokum wore thick-lensed glasses and at first glance
reminded one of Mr. Peepers. But as the saying goes, the good
ones come in all shapes and sizes. Unspectacular, Yokum had
something essential in a commander: he was steady.
Yokum marched his men right aloijg. They were at the
bottom of the valley and ready to start up Angel Finger when
the moment came that Maliszewskf s red flare went up and
the artillery fires lifted. That far it had been a breeze. The
enemy was pitching nothing into the valley and the American
shelling was hitting the bull's-eye atop Dale.
Attacking the slope, the men had first to work their way
through a double apron wire. They made it without hurt, but
Attack and Repulse . 81
some became snagged momentarily during the passage, and
so the platoon became scattered. That cut down momentum.
Beyond the wire, Yokum lost five minutes getting them col-
lected again within range of his voice.
In that interval, they could hear the mounting rattle of
automatic fire from the far side of the hill. And from the crest,
several machine guns spoke, though not in their direction.
They started again, but the advance went more slowly.
As they got to within 50 yards of Dale's big trench, from
upslope one grenade landed among them. It wounded three
men. There were some seconds of hesitation. Yokum yelled,
"Move on! Move on!", and responding, they came to the
solid band of concertina wire. Some tried to force their way
through it; others tried to crawl under. As they struggled,
grenades exploded among them and from a few yards uphill,
a tommy gunner opened fire.
That was enough resistance to turn them, but within sec-
onds a Chinese machine gun, from farther up the slope, was
pouring fire on the same line. Then they recoiled about 20
yards and went flat among the rocks. One man didn't make it:
Pfc. Antonio Rivera had got some part of his equipment
snagged by the wire and couldn't break loose.
Pfc. Robert McKinley, who had fallen back with the others,
saw Rivera's plight. On sudden impulse, this ig-year-old
bounded forward and hit Rivera with a body block, aimed hip
high. The blow bounced Rivera up and over the wire so that
he fell on the enemy side.
That move, which fully committed Rivera beyond reach by
the flattened platoon, undoubtedly led on to the next step.
McKinley crawled back the 20 yards to M/S George Boat-
wright. For some seconds he lay there thinking his idea over.
Boatwright was firing his Mi in the direction of the tommy
gunner. Briefly, McKinley joined in with his carbine.
Distribution of Yokum's Platoon when it became held at the wire
Attack and Repulse 83
Then he said to Boatwright, "Watch me!" Again, he
jumped toward the concertina. This time as he hit it straight
on, in a diving motion, his arms were up to protect his face.
The wire barrier went flat under his weight. Then he yelled
back to Boatwright in a voice which rang clarion-clear above
the sounds of fire, "Send the men over me!"
Boatwright rushed to within five yards of him and there
went flat. He yelled, "Come on! Move up! Go across!" His
arms moved like flails as he waved the men toward McKinley's
back. But there was no quick response. One other thought
made the men more hesitant than their fear of fire. As they
later explained, they thought McKinley would be killed im-
mediately, and they couldn't stand the idea of walking on a
corpse. So there were perhaps three minutes of agonizing de-
lay while McKinley played bridge, waiting for the traffic that
Yokum's main thought during this interval was that if his
men didn't stay flat they would all be killed. The concertina
looked impenetrable. From just beyond it, the enemy grena-
diers and tommy gunner were getting the range. Six more
grenades had landed among the men and three more soldiers
were crying for first aid. The Chinese machine gun was doing
no damage; the fire was much too high. But now there was a
fresh worry. A light mortar had opened fire and Yokum
counted five rounds as they exploded within less than 30 yards
of where he lay.
Yokum's head was averted when McKinley plunged to the
wire and so he missed the play. He was yelling, "Crawl for-
wardone at a time go under the wire." Then he heard a
voice, louder and shriller than his own, "Come up here, come
up here, you bastards!" It was McKinley, using his own lungs
to give Boatwright an assist And probably it was the GI
language that got them started. Ordinarily, McKinley didn't
84 Pork Chop Hill
use it. Later in front of the company, he was to acknowledge
that while he lay stretched on the wire, he kept remembering
what his dad, a cook in Roswell, N. M, kept writing him:
"Keep your head and pray to your God."
Cpl. Virgil Jones was the first man to try the passage. Land-
ing in the small of McKinley's back in the darkness, he lost
his balance, banged McKinley in the back of his head with
the base plate of his machine gun, and jumped back to the
nigh side of the wire, yelling, "Are you hurt?" McKinley
shouted, "Jump again and keep going!"
Jones made it this time and Privates Jeeter and Hughes fol-
lowed directly after. As each man landed on his back, Mc-
Kinley gave him a shout of encouragement, "Keep going; look
for the burp gunner directly ahead!" There had come no slack-
ening of the fire; rather, the few Chinese among the rocks
above them were now concentrating both their grenades and
the automatic fire toward McKinley. The gunner now kept a
stream going, instead of firing in short bursts.
Private Godfrey, a Negro, was the fourth man. As he landed
on McKinley's back, a bullet got him through the shoulder.
Instead of yelling, he completed his spring, and slumped onto
the bank beyond McKinley. The others did not know that
he'd been hit. But McKinley had felt it and he pitched his
voice toward Godfrey, saying, "If you got it bad, stay where
Privates Naparez and Cox and Sergeant Boatwright went
on over. Then Cpl. Harold E. Wright took a grenade frag-
ment through the hip, and in his tumble from McKinley's
back, kicked him in the head. He lay down beside Godfrey
and waited for the others to clear.
Naparez, who was serving as the platoon's aid man, had
seen Wright crumple. Instead of continuing upslope, he
Attack and Repulse 85
dropped beside him and felt for the wound. Wright was al-
ready losing blood at an alarming rate.
Nine others, under the spurring of Yokum, who was now
standing in the clear and urging them on, made the passage
safely. Counting Rivera, that made eighteen whom McKinley
had put over the wire. The move had taken approximately six
minutes after the initial delay. What had slowed the advance
chiefly was that the Chinese grenadiers were throwing in sal-
vos, and each man had waited a few seconds, timing his rush
to the break in the grenade fire. Yokum went last.
Downslope, short of the wire, Sgt William Welcher was
having a different kind of trial. The six Koreans in Yokum's
platoon were all collected within Welcher's squad. They re-
fused to budge. Welcher booted them until at last one man
got up and bounded across McKinley. The others still hugged
the dirt. Frustrated and wondering what to do, Welcher
simply stayed there, kicking and reviling them, forgetting the
Sgt. Francis D. Bushman, a go-it-alone kind of soldier, had
been on the extreme left of the line, virtually detached from
the main body by a rock outcropping. He had not witnessed
McKinley's action or heard him. In those minutes he was
helping Pfc. Buddy W. Vandvier who had been hard hit by
several grenade shards. After giving him first aid and starting
him rearward, Bushman crawled forward. By pulling at some
loose rock, he was able to wiggle under the concertina.
His line of advance put him on the left side of Angel Fin-
ger at the same time that the men who had crossed via Mc-
Kinley were trying, singly rather than as a collected group,
to charge up the right-hand side. It was a better spot for seeing
than for fighting. The shelling had set one of the bunkers afire
atop Dale Outpost and the glare in the background silhou-
etted the crest of the finger. Bushman could see two Chinese
86 Pork Chop Hill
firing down on the platoon with automatic weapons. Still
higher up the finger, though not more than 35 yards above his
head, four grenadiers bobbed up in alternate pairs to lob
potato-masher grenades down on his friends. From the
heights, an occasional grenade exploded on his own side of
the finger, but he could not see who threw them nor could
he counter the fire ripping into the platoon. Already his car-
bine was empty. He had grenades and he tried to clear the
ground with them. But the height plus the distance mocked
his effort and the grenades only rebounded toward him. The
slope confronting him was almost sheer and wholly barren,
with no shrubs or rock ledges to offer a handhold. He could
neither move upright nor crawl The best he could do was
drag himself upward a few inches at a time.
The strain on McKinley had not been eased by the advance
of the platoon except that the fire was no longer wholly con-
centrated in his direction. He still lay stretched across the
wire, for there remained the task of evacuating the two
wounded men, Wright and Godfrey, the same way they had
come. There was no one to help him, since Naparez, after
examining Wright, had continued with the platoon. McKin-
ley's way of handling it was to grab them around the knees
and pull them back across his own body. That took another
five minutes, by his estimate and theirs. After this exertion,
Wright could not arise. McKinley heard him say, "Dear God,
I'm terribly weak and losing blood." So McKinley pulled
back to the nigh side of the wire, intending to carry Wright
downhill in his arms. He was surprised to find that his own
strength was spent. The best he could do was brace Wright
with an arm under his shoulder.
By then the platoon was also reeling. What no one had
foreseen was that the act which was intended to save it would
perforce give it a fatal diffusion. McKinley's back was in effect
Attack and Repulse 87
a defile. Each man had entered it under fire and, deploying
beyond it, was still under fire. In consequence, each man ad-
vanced separately to whatever dark object in the immediate
foreground seemed to promise the best cover. So all chance for
unity was lost immediately.
Pfc. Thomas Nezbella, after crossing McKinley's back,
bounded about 10 yards up the ridge, and slid into position
behind a rock ledge. He could hear two automatic weapons
firing directly above his head; by the sound, they were not
more than 30 yards away. He moved five yards closer. Then
five times he grenaded toward the sound. Each of his grenades
rebounded, exploding closer to him than to the enemy.
Then off to his right a few yards, he heard a shout. It was
Private Thacher calling to Private Jeeter, "Come on up with
your BAR and help me get 'em." He saw the two men con-
verge and maneuver a short way upslope. Then they joined
fire, Thacher using an Mi. Within a minute or two thereafter,
one of the Chinese guns ceased fire, and Nezbella reckoned
that Thacher and Jeeter together had put the gunner out of
action. But they, too, had quit fighting, and for the moment,
this puzzled Nezbella.
Yokum had tried calling to his men but could get no re-
sponse. There was too much noise on the hill for his voice
to carry, and in the dark (he is near-sighted) he could see no
one else. So he went to work as a rifleman. His carbine fire,
directed toward the spot where the tommy gunner was operat-
ing, endured just four rounds. The piece was so fouled by dust
that it wouldn't fire automatic, and after he had spent four
rounds manually, it quit altogether. Thus disarmed, Yokum
decided to start looking for his men.
Privates Rivera and Rodriguez had moved leftward, which
line took them around the curve of the finger, and toward
Sergeant Bushman. As they neared him, either a grenade or
88 Pork Chop Hill
a light mortar round landed between them. The explosion
shattered Rodriguez's arm and wounded Rivera in a dozen
places, one frag penetrating his stomach. They started back
the way they had come, Rodriguez half -carrying Rivera. Bush-
man recovered the Mi dropped by Rodriguez. He at last had
a weapon and the second Chinese gunner (armed with a Bren)
was still in clear profile. Bushman fired perhaps a dozen
rounds; it was probably his fire that killed the second gun.
Cpl. Virgil Jones had tried to find a spot along the upslope
where he could prop his LMG for a clear sweep against the
group of Chinese grenadiers. At last he found it, a rock ledge,
flat-surfaced. Before he could open fire, a grenade bounced
onto the ledge and, exploding under the gun, wrecked it. One
fragment smashed the bridge of Jones' nose. The effect was
like a hard blow from a hammer. Jones was stunned beyond
knowing what had happened. But he picked up the ruined gun
and started downslope. Cpl. Troy Goodman was lying just a
few yards below him with a bullet through his leg. He saw
that Jones was hit and reeling, so he put an arm around him,
and together they continued the journey.
Private Naparez had climbed only a few feet before com-
ing to Private Cox, who was down with a grenade fragment
through his knee. He put a bandage on him, and then, sup-
porting Cox, started downslope.
Privates Thacher and Jeeter, whose team play Nezbella had
seen knock out the Chinese gunner, were returning even more
blindly. Just how it happened, no one ever knew. But both
men had been struck in the head by bullet fire, and though
neither died instantly, both were in their last moments as they
sought the road to the rear.
Of the detail of these blows to his men, young Yokum still
knew little or nothing. Until his carbine failed, he had seen
none of them and heard no one cry out. It had been as if he
Attack and Repulse 89
were fighting alone on the hill; the rocks and the tumult atop
the outpost killed the sounds of his own men giving battle.
He reckoned that some of them must have recoiled to the
concertina, and if he went that way, he could re-collect them.
The barrier now gaped wide, a mortar round having
snapped it just a few yards from where McKinley had lain. As
Yokum neared the opening, it was already semiblocked by a
cluster of his own wounded and dead. Rivera, Thacher and
Jeeter had made it just that far and there died within a few
feet of each other. Goodman, Jones and the other wounded
were standing by, wordless and motionless, as if shocked by
It reacted on Yokum the same way. Counting score, he
realized that at most, not more than six of his men could still
be whole-bodied and moving up the slope. It was no longer a
platoon, not even a squad. That thought made him oblivious
to all else. That above him the slope had gone silent, that
this could only mean that his men, though falling, had not
failed and had won their side of the hill, were facts which
simply could not get through to his consciousness.
He yelled, "Come on back!" and this time, because of the
stillness, Boatwright, Private First Class Bennett and Private
Hughes, who were still trying to move upslope, heard him
and withdrew to the concertina.
That left Sergeant Bushman all alone on the finger. He had
not heard Yokum's order. But all of his earlier anxieties were
now done and he lay flat on the rocks feeling quite content
There was no longer any sign of the enemy and the sounds
of fire from on top the hill had diminished to an occasional
When Yokum with the survivors reached the bottom of
the valley, he reported by radio to Lieutenant Patteson, tell-
90 Pork Chop Hill
ing him what had happened. Patteson told him, "Wait
Aid man Naparez had nipped back up the hill to search
for other missing and wounded. He met McKinley coming
down. His journey to the rear with Wright had been slowed
because two other wounded had joined them, and McKinley
was trying to handle all three of them shuttle fashion, moving
a few yards at a time.
From beginning to end, the fight had lasted hardly more
than thirty minutes.
Yokum's waiting ended when Patteson told him that Item
Company had secured the main entrenchments on top of
Dale. Patteson said, 'Take any able-bodied men you have,
move up Angel Finger and join them/'
There were seven in all, counting Yokum. They turned back
to the hill and climbed it without a shot being fired against
them by their enemies. But it gave them no feeling of victory,
for Item stood on the height while they still toiled up the
As dawn came, so did a bearer detail, bringing coffee. They
drank and felt a little better.
Stumble to Victory
ATEM COMPANY HAD BEEN IN A BLOCKING POSITION BEHIND
First Battalion on the southern side of the Tong Valley when
the midnight call came to Lieutenant Hemphill directing him
to send a platoon to re-enforce Baker Company on the main
Artillery was already falling on Item's bivouac and one man
had been killed. Not more than ten minutes after Third Pla-
toon had hit the trail bound for the front, Colonel Kern again
called Hemphill telling him that Dale Outpost had been
overrun and the rest of Item Company would move immedi-
ately to retake it. There was a bad break: the only Item men
who knew the ground at Dale Outpost were in Third Platoon.
No one in the company had slept. Hemphill was new to his
command, not yet acquainted with his men and without
knowledge of the countryside. He assembled his two platoons
in the mess tent, told them the mission and then led the
column forth. There were 69 men in it. The riflemen all car-
ried basic loads and five grenades apiece. There were 1,000
rounds each for the two light machine guns. Hemphill was
about to leave his rocket launchers behind, then thought bet-
ter of it.
They started at 0130. Their approach march to Lieutenant
Patteson's CP was exactly one-half mile, as Cpl. Billy R.
Crum knew by reeling off an even doughnut of wire along the
92 Pork Chop Hill
trail. But there was much stumbling and checking as more
artillery found the mark during the march-up, wounding two
men. They were 47 minutes in getting there.
During this time, Maliszewski had been champing at the
bit. Having been perfunctorily briefed by Patteson, he in turn
gave the picture to Hemphill. Nothing was said about the
men still missing and possibly alive on Dale.
Together Maliszewski and Hemphill scanned the outpost
from the distance. Save for the precisely delivered VT shower,
it looked deceptively peaceful. Nothing could be seen stirring
on its surface under the incandescent glare of the light shells.
To both men the sights and sounds indicated that Dale had
Because of the intense glare above Dale, the valley on both
sides of it was impenetrably shaded. The Chinese would be
certain to cover their back door. The most promising approach
was via Moore's Finger on the right flank. But how the finger
was shaped and how its mass intervened between the valley
and the rampart were indiscernible. For that reason and be-
cause Hemphill was new to the scene, the battalion com-
mander dictated the plan for the company attack.
All of Item would deploy rightward of the chogi trench,
with the left tying in to the outguard position which Lieu-
tenant Collins was holding with ten men. That group would
join the attack. Item's Second Platoon would be on the
right flank, directly facing Moore's Finger. The machine guns
were grouped at the extreme right with the mission of moving
up the finger until they were on line-of-sight to Dale's crest
and from there delivering a covering fire while the rifle line
Patteson had grown restive over the denuding of his part of
the main line through the commitment of Yokum's platoon.
Stumble to Victory 93
He asked Maliszewski, "What dq I do if the Chinese hit me?"
Said Maliszewski: "Use your cooks and clerks."
Hemphill wanted to know, "Who will I use for a guide?"
Said Maliszewski, "You have one; Fm it."
Hemphill got back to the company, called his leaders to-
gether and gave them orders. The attack was to go at 0330,
which, by the time Hemphill was through talking, left them
just 27 minutes to move and get squared away at the line of
departure. It sounded simple enough as Hemphill described it.
But time was pressing. Maliszewski and Hemphill struck off
together leading the column along the commo trench toward
the finger. In their eagerness, they moved too fast. The more
heavily weighted riflemen couldn't keep the pace. So when
the lead files reached the dip where they were to debouch
from the trench and form a line on the lower ground to right-
ward of it, there was no longer a guide in sight and none to
direct the alignment.
Lieut. Joseph W. Faris led First Platoon. Tight behind him
came No. i squad leader, Sergeant Jos6 Lugo, his BAR man,
Private Anthony P. Sanchez, and the assistant gunner, Private
Francisco Bermudez-Cruz. And when they formed, that was
all of the platoon. Private Johnson, who had been behind
Bermudez-Cruz, had missed a turn at a gap in the wire and
had led the rest of the platoon off in the opposite direction.
With only four minutes to go, Faris had to radio for a delay
in the attack while he hunted his lost men.
But he was not alone in his embarrassment Hemphill had
already heard from Second Platoon that part of its line was
lost or at least missing. Cpl. Donald E. Mullins radioed to
keep the artillery going while the slopes were searched for
the strayed infantry. Maliszewski, biting his nails, ordered a
Inadvertently, he had helped make this untimely confusion.
94 Pork Chop Hill
For in leading off, he had talked it up, yelling, "Let's go! Get
the sons-of -bitches!" And the men had followed his lead. The
deployment was bedlamized before it had established order.
Many of the men were yelling at top voice. Squads already
on line were prematurely shouting, "Move out! Move out!
Let's go!" All of it would have been great stuff if Item had
been set. As things were, the exhorting drowned out the
voices of Paris and others who were calling for the lost men.
After hard sweat, Paris found his missing line. Still pant-
ing, the platoon was brought abreast the LD. And just then
the red flare went off, signaling the starting of the attack.
Though most of the squads by that moment were headed in
approximately the right direction, they were still scrambled.
Several were still far behind and others had come into line in
the wrong sector.
Only one group moved directly and steadily to its assigned
mission. On the far right flank, the machine guns under
M/S Robert J. Jones, with Lugo, Sanchez and Bermudez-Cruz
providing the BAR support, moved straight up Moore's Fin-
ger to the first knob. From there, they had a straight line to
the fire bunkers atop Dale, 75 yards away. Of that, there was
no doubt. Automatic fire from the redoubt was already buzz-
ing the knob as they settled among the rocks and began
working their weapons. Behind them, the assault line was still
trying to collect itself.
On the far right of Second Platoon, two squads had found
a conveniently located trench in the valley bottom and were
standing fast. Hemphill ran that way yelling, "Move out!"
The men echoed the cry but didn't budge. Corporal Crum
and Sgt Joe J. Schindel jumped into the trench and, in
Cram's phrase, "did a lot of ass-kicking." That helped to re-
store motion. But there was no vigor in it. Every four or five
yards the men would stop, though they were drawing no fire.
Stumble to Victory 95
The repriming had to be done over and over. Yet they con-
tinued to shout, "Move out! Get going! Kill the sons-of-
bitches!" as if in the grip of hysteria.
Second Platoon's two squads on the left were advancing
upslope, firing as they moved. There were no targets in sight.
The brow of Moore's Finger, directly ahead of them, masked
the rampart of Dale Outpost, and all of the bullets were being
wasted on this dead space. Cpl. Othelius Johnson shouted,
"Why are you firing?" Someone yelled back, "Because First
Platoon is firing." Helped by Sgt. Edward Gabriel, Johnson
moved along the line trying to stop the shooting. Several of
the carbines had gone dry before the line could see the Chi-
The base of Moore's Finger divides into three subfingers.
In the darkness, these divisions could not be seen by the men.
The left-hand approach which was taken by Paris' First Pla-
toon is steep-fronted and camel-backed. From the floor of
the valley, its last high knob hides to view both the mass of
the main finger and the summit of Dale. Not being oriented,
Paris' men mistook this cap, not more than 50 yards above
their heads, for the silhouette of the outpost. When the red
flare went up and their climb started, they cut loose with all
weapons. No one had ordered it; nerve tension, mounting high
during the approach, found release in the trigger finger. Once
started, it was almost impossible to stop because of the furious
shouting. But M/S Charles G. Heeg and Sgt. Woodrow L.
Schlehofer tried. Obviously firepower was wasting at a rate
that would empty every magazine before Item could draw on
the Chinese. The two NCOs yelled, "Cease fire! Cease fire!"
Their voices were lost in the din. The platoon moved on up
the slope, pouring its bullets into vacant rock two heights
short of the enemy.
"Getting onto ground we knew nothing of," said Fans, "we
96 , Pork Chop Hill
were not given time for reconnaissance. And the only effect of
our fire was to warn the enemy and give him time to organize
Lieutenant Collins, who had the Baker detachment which
was supposed to move with Item, became willy-nilly part of
this scramble up the secondary finger. Before he had moved
more than 30 yards from the line of departure, he had lost his
own ten men in the darkness; knowing none of them by sight
or voice, he could not regather them. So he tried to command
whatever men were nearest him. It would not work. They
lurched forward a few yards at a time, then stopped to fire a
few rounds at nothing in particular. He moved among them
shouting, "God damn it, keep moving! God damn it, quit fir-
ing!" Getting little or no results that way, he started booting
them in the tail. And that worked.
When at last they moved off the secondary finger onto the
arched back of Moore's Finger, conditions changed swiftly. It
was now a straight shoot up the slope into the fighting bunk-
ers of Dale Outpost, not more than 80 yards away. Against
the glare of the illumination and the mortar shelling hitting
into the rampart, they could see the trench line and see dark
figures darting about on the bunker roofs. One Chinese ma-
chine gun was firing straight down Moore's Finger, grazing
the ground which they had to travel. Now was the time to
pour it on! And it was at this moment exactly that the cry,
"Cease fire! Cease fire!" which had started in the bottoms not
more than fifteen minutes before began to paralyze the Amer-
Barring their path 25 yards upslope was the broad band of
concertina wire. Several enemy submachine gunners and a
few grenadiers, nesting right behind the wire, were peppering
the foreground. A second machine gun, lodged on a bunker
roof well over to the right, was firing flankward toward the
Stumble to Victory 97
finger. There was more sound than fury in this automatic out-
burst; most of it was going high. But with the way wide open
for effective return, Item rode the crisis in a confusion of
thought and action which directly reflected its early disor-
ganization. Its fire slacked off to a whisper. The will was lack-
ing and so were the weapons. At least half of them had been
fouled beyond use during the up-climb because the men had
hit the dirt too often while still not under fire.
Pvt. Augustus T. Young's BAR wouldn't work; he didn't
know why. Cpl Terrell G. Parker's BAR wouldn't fire; the
magazine was dirty. Pvt Richard L. Crookston's BAR
wouldn't fire; he thought it was because the ammunition was
too dirty. Pvt. Julio Lopez' Mi wouldn't operate, though
when he yielded it to Parker, it did quite well. Pvt. Earl John-
son's Mi wouldn't shoot; he thought it was because the clips
were too begrimed. Cpl. James L. Rector's Mi would fire
sometimes if he operated the bolt; he blamed it on the dirti-
ness of the weapon that in one hour he fired only one clip.
And so it went, along a great part of the line.
At his machine-gun position farther downslope, Sergeant
Jones decided to explore forward and see what was holding up
the company. Private First Class Manning, who had the pla-
toon radio, went with him. From their position on the right-
hand secondary finger, they moved on an ascending diagonal
toward Dale Outpost's rear. Jones could see clearly the posi-
tions from which the two enemy machine guns were firing.
The farthest was not more than 120 yards from him. He had
kept up a continuous fire with the LMGs on these rather ob-
vious targets and it surprised him that they had not been
As he came onto Moore's Finger, he saw "at least thirty
men just milling about" No one seemed to be in charge of
Pork Chop Hill
The counterattack against Dale Outpost. Item Company's platoons
had become intermingled before they gained the summit.
them, and instead of resting, they were turning in circles like
corralled cattle. Approaching the concertina, he saw Corporal
Johnson lying there with the 3.5 rocket launcher.
Pointing to the machine gun 40 yards beyond the wire,
Jones asked him, "Why aren't you firing?"
Johnson was in tears as he replied, "Hell, they won't let
Sergeant Heeg had given the order. The slope behind John-
son was thick with men still not under control and Heeg was
afraid of the backblast. Restoring command unity was the
main problem; effective response had been made impossible
by the intermingling of the squads. And until the rest of the
Stumble to Victory 99
men could be formed in line and pushed up to the wire, the
launcher could not be used.
Hemphill, Paris, Heeg, Jones and the other leaders worked
at it. Man by man the lower slope was cleared and the line
crawled forward. The hardiest characters tried to push on
through the concertina. Pvt. Deforest Small got hung up in
it, and could neither break free nor lie down. He was sus-
pended there for six minutes. So were four of the company's
Koreans. From the nigh side of the wire, Corporal Beckham
stood up yelling, "Get moving! Crawl through! Crawl under!"
It was his last try; a bullet got him through the brain.
Lieutenant Hemphill bounded for the concertina, trying
to break through. A heavy potato masher exploded next him
in midair, and the fragments ripped his legs and head. The
blow stunned him and he sagged. For a few minutes the men
thought he was dead.
That was when Jones decided to return to his machine guns.
The slope was becoming too hot. From behind the wire the
Chinese grenadiers and burp gunners were getting in their
heaviest licks. And the machine-gun fire was now cutting the
grass. While Jones walked back to his guns, he was overtaken
by Sgt Ferdinand Schulz, his own assistant. A grenade had
wounded Schulz in the head while he lay next the wire.
Small broke loose from the wire, as by a miracle, when a
Chinese white phosphorus grenade landed under his feet. Said
Small, "I got strong quickly." One great heave and he was
free, falling back toward the company just before the missile
exploded. But two of the Koreans who became trapped in
the same way were killed by burp-gun fire.
Of these slight wounds the line again bogged down. A mi-
nority quit the hill. The greater number during the next few
minutes remained inert next the wire. Even so, that should
have ended Corporal Johnson's frustrations. But his bad luck
ioo Pork Chop Hill
was still running. Someone had landed hard on the 3.5
launcher and bent it, and he could no longer force a round
SFC Burton Ham, who had been with Lieutenant Collins
at the beginning, and at the time of their separation had con-
tinued on with Pfc. John R. Pennington, was sprawled next
to Johnson very close to the concertina. To both Pennington
and Ham, it appeared that the in-fighting along the barricade
was being carried by not more than six or seven Chinese. Yet
they were holding at least forty men motionless, pinning them
down and silencing their weapons.
Collins, though he had lost Ham and the others, must have
been within a few yards of Johnson, watching the same phe-
nomenon. The line had become transfixed by the strong play
of the one Chinese machine gun which fired straight down
the finger. Collins heard men yelling, "We ought to get that
machine gun!" Others cried, "Why doesn't somebody use the
3.5?" But no one fitted action to words. Collins' impression
was that the enemy grenadiers along the wire were using white
phosphorus bombs mainly and that most of the stuff was
bad and fizzed out weakly.
It is easier to blame inept leadership for this stagnation
than to understand that the circumstances of the night attack
had stripped it of salient authority. Unity had been lost in the
scrambling of the squads. Men command by voice, look and
gesture, but the chain of force thus generated is dependent
on recognition. Darkness, din and diffusion had militated
against recognition on that night to an extraordinary degree.
Later when the story of the operation was reconstructed, it
was noteworthy that each man told his part as if he had
walked almost alone. Not one of them, during the prolonged
struggle uphill, identified his own experience as related to the
action of more than two or three persons whom he knew.
Stumble to Victory 101
They were a group only in the sense that they had numbers.
Colonel Maliszewski was hardly less susceptible to this lost
feeling than the replacements who were having their first time
in combat, though because the command was HemphilFs, he
did not attempt an intervention which in any case would have
been vain. After leading the column to the LD, he continued
with the attack, moving first with Paris' flank, then swinging
over to Second Platoon, which he calculated would arrive
first at the rampart. To a degree, in his detached position, he
was deceived by the early shouting and tumult which he be-
lieved reflected a splendid verve in the assault.
Shortly thereafter, he began to pay more attention to the
enemy guns than to the spell which they put upon Item Com-
pany. His interest drawn in that direction, he did not sense
the state of disorganization within the American attack.
Beating on his mind was the thought that unless the two
enemy machine guns could be knocked out, Item would
take fearful losses at the wire.
Crossing a draw as he traversed the front, he found a small
hole in the concertina and wiggled through. He stood there
alone within 50 yards of the fire bunkers atop Dale. He was
carrying a carbine and four grenades. Misquoting Confucius,
he said out loud, with no one to listen: "The strong example
is worth one thousand words/' He moved on up the gully
scrambling over the rocks to a knob which he reckoned was
just within grenade range of the main trench. He had marked
the two main enemy positions. It was his intention to attack
both of them, working first against the gun on the Chinese
left flank by coming up under the blind corner of the bunker.
Hemphill was thinking along the same lines. He was still
bleeding badly from his face wounds, and clutching at his hurt
leg, though his head had cleared. He moved over to Paris'
flank yelling, "Anybody got a 3.5 launcher? Bring it to me!"
102 Pork Chop Hill
Pfc. Clarence L. Sparks, the assistant gunner in First Platoon,
heard him. The gunner, Cpl. Warren T. Adams, had been
working with the wounded and at that moment was loading
Private First Class Jessup on a litter.
Sparks ran to Hemphill, carrying the tube and a case of
ammunition. Hemphill asked, "Do you know how to load
this thing? I don't/' Sparks got a round out of the case, but
its contact wire had tangled with the spring. Sparks grabbed
another round and loaded.
Hemphill wiggled under the wire and ran forward, yelling
back to his men, "Watch out for backblast!" It was a needless
warning; no one was following him. Sparks stood by the
barricade watching him go.
Thirty yards from Dale's main trench, Hemphill halted
and fired, aiming at the bunker roof from where the enemy
machine gun was firing straight down the finger. Another
grenade sailed in on him as he loosed the round and more
steel cut into him. Collins, watching the bunker, saw a "great
flash envelop the roof." The machine gun went silent, ending
the fire from that direction. The one round had hit home.
It was like a dam breaking. Almost instantly, the line of
men who had been prone and silent below the wire arose
and surged forward. And this time the barbed entanglement
detained them not at all. Also, there was an upsurge of the
chorus, "Get the sons-of-bitches!" but as Paris later said, this
time they knew not only the words but also the right tune.
As to what killed the second gun, the proofs are less con-
crete. Maliszewski attacked it within a few minutes, either
way, of Hemphill's charge against the No. i gun with the big
bazooka. Jones' machine-gun battery had been plastering that
same target for more than thirty minutes, and the gun had
operated intermittently, with long pauses, as if the fire was
hitting into crew without destroying the weapon. It still fired
Stumble to Victory 103
in weak bursts as Maliszewski approached it. Or at least he
believed it was the bunker housing one of the heavies, though
it may have been one of the several Brens which the Chinese
had brought to Dale. His first grenade toss sailed clean
through the opening. There was an explosion and the gun
Maliszewski then moved toward the several bunkers di-
rectly overlooking Moore's Finger. The folding of the earth
had hid to his view the dramatic effect of Hemphiirs personal
maneuver. But as he drew nigh the bunker which he thought
was still holding back Item by its fire, a BAR man settled
down on the parapet beside him and offered him his grenades.
Maliszewski didn't have time to get his name. He unpinned
the grenades and threw. Together the two men ducked back
into a small ravine just below the parapet. From the main
trench several grenades showered down on them. Hemphiirs
assault force was just then crowding to the trenches, moving
upslope on both sides of Maliszewski. Lieut. Claude T. Ford
heard a yell out of the darkness, "Come on! Get the sons-of-
bitches!" and knew it for the battalion commander's voice.
One big stick grenade found the mark. It exploded under
Maliszewski as he went flat From the ravine came his cry,
"Come get me, my right leg is blown off!" followed by silence.
Luckily, he had only lost a foot. Maliszewski tumbled back
down the slope, then blacked out. Regaining consciousness,
he crawled a little way uphill. It seemed to him that an hour
passed before any help came. But that was an illusion born
of shock. Sergeant Ham had heard his cry and got to him
immediately. The medics were working over him within a
few minutes and he was carried off the hill while the line was
still carrying on a confused fight to subdue the Chinese re-
HemphilFs lone-handed sortie had introduced a new if fleet-
Stumble to Victory 105
ing note of steadiness in the situation. Besides knocking out
the gun and jarring loose his troops, Hemphill had given his
men that fresh confidence which makes control possible. Once
they had broken through the concertina, Paris, Ford, Heeg,
Schlehof er and the other junior leaders were able to get them
in hand. They obeyed orders and formed as a line of skirmish-
ers just beyond the barrier. There were at least two exceptions.
Cpls. George A. Mata and Sisto M. Valeho had been in the
forefront of the movement, and they kept right on going,
heading for that part of the escarpment where Maliszewski
had started his attack.
Mata had an Mi, Valeho a BAR. From First Platoon's sec-
tor, they cut diagonally rightward across and upslope, firing
as they went. Mata's rifle was already sticking. Fifty yards
along, they came to another band of wire. They were both in
it and Valeho was wedged tight when grenades began to fall
on them from out the trench just above their heads. Mata
wrenched free. Then just over to his right about 30 yards he
heard a call, "Hey over there, come help lis!" He ran that way,
and hit another small patch of wire. Four members of Second
Platoonone American and three Koreans were hung up in
it, and though Mata strained, he could not pull them loose.
Two potato mashers had exploded among the men and all
four had been hit by numerous fragments. Mata said, "Give
me your grenades!" He got three from them, ran back to
Valeho and got two more, and then took Valeho's BAR.
Leaving the four men impaled, he headed straight for the
parapet, jumped into the trench and rushed the bunker from
which the grenades had been coming. As he bombed into the
open bunker door, getting away his five grenades as fast as he
could pull the pin and throw, two more potato mashers ex*
ploded right at his heels. Hardly pausing, he opened fire with
106 Pork Chop Hill
the BAR, dusting the trench in both directions. He stopped
only when his weapon ran dry.
Right after that, Corporal Mullins, the radio man, ran past
him. With Pvt James R. Streit, Mullins had observed Mata's
whole action from a little way downslope. He had seen the
Chinese grenading from the bunker and that had given him
pause. Then as Mata's grenades hit among their soft targets,
Mullins witnessed the kill and heard the scream of the victims
evidence which Mata had missed in his excitement. Said
Mullins, "That was what brought us forward; we knew Mata
had done it." Streit had fired his Mi as they advanced; he
continued on to grenade the next bunker past Mata, after first
singing out, "Hey, any American in there?" Mullins prowled
the bunker which Mata had bombed. There were seven dead
Chinese inside the score of a man named Mata.
On its last leg of the uphill sweep, the line started smoothly.
There was still fire from the hill. A few burp guns were pop-
ping away and the remaining Chinese grenadiers hung on
tenaciously. But the machine-gun fire which had raked
Moore's Finger was ended. Whether killed by Maliszewski's
attack, or by the thirty-minute fire from Sergeant Jones' bat-
tery, or maybe the two together, the second gun did not speak
again after the line had re-formed.
Not enemy resistance, but the temptation of ground pro-
tection, brought about the next unhinging of the line. To
men moving in an attack, the sight of solid works draws like
a magnet. This is true even in dark and when the works are
enemy-held. To take one's chances within solid earth walls
seems much safer and more sensible than a slow climb in the
open. The Koreans in Item felt this pull far more strongly
than did the Americans, and the line rippled back and forth
as they tried to break for the hillcrest, only to be restrained.
Renewed confusion came of a peculiarity in the Dale trench
Stumble to Victory 107
line. Where the works of Dale wrap around its command
post, the trench for a distance drops down toward the Sidamak
Valley, then climbs upslope again. As Item's line advanced,
the center where the two platoons hinged was opposite this
low point. Because of the dip, the trench ran diagonally to-
ward both platoons. Each could see the opening oblique to
its flank but could not see the embankment along its own
flank. So the two halves of the line headed for the ditch on
opposing angles, and in so doing, the squads again became
completely scrambled. Once the line had' dissolved in this
manner into the works, the restoration of small group unity
had to await the end of the fight. Probably by that time it
mattered very little. All of the Chinese main weapons had
gone out. Group resistance was almost ended. The enemy
survivors were little better than fugitives. The fighting prob-
lem had become one of smelling out grenadiers and killing
them, two or three to a bunker.
On entering the trench Private Small heard smothered calls
coming from several of the wrecked bunkers, "Help GI! Help
GI!" It troubled him because he had never heard Chinese cry
out like that, and he wondered about it as the noise persisted
for an hour or more. Having no grenades, he didn't go after
the bunkers. He watched others rush the door and throw the
bomb home. Unlike Private Streit, not all of them took the
precaution to yell, "Hey, any American in there?" Many were
having their first night of battle, and of the very special
problems in counterattack, they knew only what they had
Whether they in fact unwittingly bombed any of Baker
Company's wounded who might otherwise have survived is
not known. None remembered having grenaded the CP
bunker, toward which both platoons converged. If they ig-
nored its existence, that would be even stranger. Death must
io8 Pork Chop Hill
have overtaken Baker's commander, Bressler, and his two
NCOs before Item reached the trenches. It is simply an
oddity in the record that by next morning, Item's recollection
of how it had handled the CP was as blank as its conscious-
ness that stricken friends were under the timbers there.
One unwounded soldier, Private Epps, who had lain doggo
next a bunker wall, did not wait to be succored. As Item
topped the ridge, this Baker man came out of the darkness
beyond and ran downhill to Sergeant Jones' machine-gun posi-
tion on Moore's Finger. He said to Jones, "Pm O.K. as hell;
you got anything for me to do?" His arrival tipped off Jones
to the possibility that there might be other friends on the
hill. His guns had already ceased fire, having burned up all
ammunition. Re-entering the skirmishing force, Jones worked
forward along the trench. One bunker was being defended
from both ends by rifles. It sounded like American fire. So
Jones restrained the men around him, thereby saving Sergeant
Reasor and three other Baker fighters. These four were the
only element on Dale to stay the fight from first to last. They
should have felt some satisfaction in it. But Reasor was ex-
First light was just beginning to break as the final round
started. The coming of day afforded the only relief from the
confusions already visited on the attack. At last men could
recognize each other over a few yards of distance. Platoon and
squad unity had been dissolved by the circumstances of the
closing rush. The full-length commitment foreclosed any
chance of systematic reorganization. But as each man moved
along, he saw and joined force with someone whom he knew.
The mop-up continued undirected and without cohesion, ex-
cept as friendship and daylight enabled these little groupings
to form and move together. Till the moment when the out-
Stumble to Victory 109
post was at last rewon, the fight went on as a series of sepa-
rated and unrelated actions.
At the moment of American entry into the trenches, there
could not have been more than 50 live Chinese on Dale,
though there were 123 dead Chinese within its works. Half
of this force made a clean getaway. Corporal Parker ran to
Dale's forward slope along the parapet. As he made the front
of the hill, he saw at least three squads of the enemy running
downslope not more than 35 yards away. Earlier, he had
given up his BAR because it wouldn't fire and had picked up
an Mi dropped by one of the wounded. Now he made the
belated discovery that the rifle was empty.
Private Johnson, teamed with Lieutenant Paris, was look-
ing things over from a crater inside the parados. They saw six
Chinese running down the trench headed for enemy country.
Johnson fired eight rounds from his Mi but stopped no one.
A grenade landed in the crater next to his leg. He jumped
straight up and while he was in air the grenade exploded.
Such was the jar to his body that he yelled, "First aid! I'm
hit!" Faris looked him over. Not one fragment had touched
Faris continued on and ran into Heeg. Two Chinese
jumped from a bunker within a few feet of them and ran
down the trench. Heeg started to fire. A grenade landed just
behind Faris, exploded and wounded him. Faris went down.
Heeg saw the grenadier jump to the parapet and streak down-
hill. Heeg ran behind, grenading the Chinese. His third throw,
at 40 yards, hit the man in the back just as it exploded.
Private Sparks had teamed with Pfc. Garbell H. Palmer.
They stumbled over a wounded Chinese lying in the trench.
He was moaning and crying, "Help me! Help me!" Sparks
yanked him to a sitting position.
Sparks asked, "Are you a Chinese Communist soldier?"
no Pork Chop Hill
The man cried, "No, no, no."
"Are you a Communist?"
"No, no, no."
"Are you a Chinese?"
"No, no, no."
"Are you a soldier?"
"No, no, no."
At that point Sparks gave up. He said to Palmer, "He's
nothing but a nothing. Anyway, he's wounded. So I guess we
better put him on a litter and get him off the hill," which they
Hemphill joined Schlehofer, Sparks, Streit, Valeho and
Heeg. The party went forward to prowl that part of the perim-
eter where Mata and Maliszewski had operated. But they
found the bunkers dead and the slopes cooled off. While
moving, they were joined by Paris, Johnson, Mullins and
about fifteen others. With a solid formation at last in hand,
they made a sweep over the front of the hill finding nothing
then started to sweep its left side.
A white phosphorus shell exploded over its lower slope,
momentarily lighting it. By its flash, they saw a number of
figures climbing upward toward them through the rocks.
Somebody yelled, "My God, Joe is coming back!" So they all
fired. Schlehofer spent all of a clip as did Sparks, Small, Streit
and several others. One man emptied his BAR. For perhaps
two minutes, it was vigorous defense.
Then up from the rocks, during a brief lull, came Ameri-
can voices, "Don't shoot! Don't shoot! Baker Company! GIs!"
The target had been the little remnant of Lieutenant Yokum's
platoon which had managed to survive the attack up Angel
Finger. The men had flattened under Item's fire and no one
had been hit.
The moment was bitter only for Schlehofer. It ruined his
Stumble to Victory 111
main chance of the day. He had seen three Chinese running
toward Baldy down Dale's forward finger. One carried a mor-
tar tube. So he had put down his Mi and grabbed a BAR
from one of Item's Koreans. He was just squeezing trigger
when the cry was raised, "My God, Joe is coming back!" So
he let the three Chinese escape and swung his BAR around
to empty its magazine against the slope up which the Ameri-
cans were advancing.
During the next half-hour, as Hemphill moved about the
hill, collecting his men and getting them set on Dale, prior
to being evacuated for hospital care, he impressed his fol-
lowers immeasurably. His clothing was blood-drenched and
the head wounds still flowed freely. But as he made the
rounds, he said to them, "Don't worry; we're all right now. I
know we're out of ammo but I'll get it up to you before I
leave here/' And the face wore a wide grin. He said to Heeg,
"I already have one Purple Heart. Now they'll have to give
me a dozen/'
The courage of Hemphill and his irrepressible cheerful-
ness were the impressions which stayed indelibly in the minds
of his men long after he had gone. Because of these salient
qualities, they spoke gently of him as a leader well worth
following. Yet they were not elated about how the company
had behaved in this fight, though it had conquered. Their
sober judgment was that their failure to become collected
was in large part their own fault. After Item regained Dale
Outpost, it was never again threatened. The division thought
of it as a splendid effort. Its satisfaction was not shared by the
men who had won the hill.
Item's losses in this small fight were four killed and thirty-
one wounded, not a great bloodletting, but still, one-half the
strength of the company, and spent in less than two hours.
If there was shock among the survivors, it was still not
112 Pork Chop Hill
enough to blot out curiosity. They wanted to know about the
two main guns the Chinese had used to pin them on Moore's
Finger, and they wanted to find out even before they out-
posted the hill. Sgt Clark D. Stewart found the gun which had
fired frontally until it was killed by Hemphill. Only a wrecked
barrel remained. There was no sign of the crew. Why that
was so is a mystery, unless in flight the Chinese evacuated
some of their dead. Pvts. John R. Sessons and James R. Martin
reconnoitered the bunker attacked by Maliszewski. They
found the gun, with eight dead Chinese draped around it.
Seven had been killed by bullets. The eighth Chinese, who sat
with hand on trigger, and the gun itself, had been destroyed
by heavy slugs of metal as from a shell or grenade.
For the two Smiths and Serpa of Baker Company, who for
six hours had played dead on the forward slope of Dale while
the fight went on, the relief came in time. Big Smith watched
the Chinese survivors flee the hill. Then, carrying Serpa, the
two Smiths moved uphill and joined Item.
Shortly after sunrise, Lieutenant Patteson of Baker Com-
pany went via the chogi trench to the Dale CP. The morning
was quiet save for the singing of birds.
Three dead Chinese choked the lower part of the bunker
door. The caving of the roof had smashed the upper half of
the doorframe. Patteson could barely get his head inside.
Within he could see three bodies pinned under the crashed
timbers. It was dark inside so he could not identify the dead,
Bressler, Spencer and Jackson.
But the three bodies lay as, from PfafFs description, Patte-
son had expected to find them. He knew then that Pfaff had
been telling him the truth about his own ordeal within the
bunker, a part which Pfaff himself thought not too credit-
able, since he had failed to stay and die with his commander.
Stumble to Victory 113
It is a simple fact that such men are almost never convinced
of their own heroism.
Later, the wreckage of the bunker had to be lifted piece by
piece to permit removal of the bodies. Then the hole was
filled in and the site leveled to obliterate a brave but wretched
JL ROM THE SUPERIOR HEIGHT OF THE ENEMY-HELD RIDGE
named Hasakkol, the light breeze of early evening brought to
Pork Chop Hill the sound of music.
For some minutes it continued, rising, then fading out ac-
cording to the caprice of the wind. Men were singing in
chorus. It was a mournful chanting, faint, tremulous and
uncanny. And though the voices were high-pitched, there was
a muted quality to the music, as if it came out of a deep well.
Now it became lost in distance again and the men who had
paused to listen resumed their supper of steak, French fries
and chocolate ice cream.
A private said, "It sounds like they're gathering in the tun-
Another answered, "O.K., as long as they stay there."
Asked the lieutenant, "But what does it mean?"
"They're prayer singing," said the interpreter. "I can't hear
the words but I know the music. They're getting ready to die."
Said the lieutenant, "Maybe we ought to be singing, too."
In this manner, Lieut. Thomas V. Harrold got his first
pointed warning that his men, Easy Company of the 3ist
Regiment, and their home of the moment, Pork Chop Hill,
had been marked for special attention by the Communist
Until then, his concern about this particular night had not
been deeply personal. For more than a week, the report had
been circulating in the division that the enemy would make
an attack in main at 2300 on 16 April. An agent working be-
hind the lines had heard it from a Korean woman who was
also good friend to several Communist soldiers. After going
to higher commands, the story had been passed back down
the line to the command posts of rifle companies.
On hearing it from G2, Harrold had felt no special alarm.
The report said the blow would fall farther east along the divi-
sion front. And in past weeks there had been several other such
rumors, which had never materialized.
But the music from Hasakkol was like a gun pointing at
Harrold's head. If Pork Chop was to be a main target, its
commander of the moment had reason to reflect that his sit-
uation, and the circumstances of his company, were not bright
Pork Chop itself was a contemptible hill, ill-formed for
all-around defense and too loosely tied in to the supporting
neighborhood. Only 234 meters above sea level at its sharply
peaked summit, the outpost was not only dominated by the
Chinese-held ridges, but in fact extended into their country,
being on the wrong side of the main valley. When one month
earlier Old Baldy had been wrested away by the Communists,
there was good reason in military logic why Pork Chop should
have followed it as a gift. That concession would have been
in the interests of line-straightening without sacrifice of a de-
pendable anchor. But national pride, bruised by the enemy's
rudeness toward Old Baldy, asserted itself, and Pork Chop
These superior heights held by the enemy concealed from
ground observation a still more formidable characteristic in
the Red Chinese defensive front. They had organized their
high ground in true depth by sweating their soldiery and mak-
n6 Pork Chop Hill
ing the most of their press gang labor. Compared to this
monumental work, Eighth Army's "deep front" was a hollow
An airborne observer looking beyond Old Baldy or any
other main bastion in the enemy line would have reported,
roughly, as follows: To a depth of more than 20,000 yards,
the Reds had entrenched and bunkered the ridges. Their de-
fensive works had ten times the depth of any belt of entrench-
ments in World War I. The lines of the main trench systems
were traced by our air photo interpreters; it was hard and repe-
titious exercise because the enemy was diabolically clever at
camouflage. Finally on the acetate the picture looked like a
giant spider web with successive main lines joined by com-
munications trenches along the transverse ridges. Shells and
bombs could be rained on this system day long with little
chance of finding a soft target. A miss by a few inches, and
the projectile was wasted. Further, there was no way of know-
ing, at a particular moment, which part, if any, of the works
under observation was manned. Every tactical group on the
enemy side had multiple fire positions within the general
position; underground tunnels connected one position with
It was suspected that, except for a few warning posts, the
Red Chinese garrisoning the forward ridges avoided the sur-
face trenches altogether during normal operations in the con-
tinuing static warfare and remained deep underground. An
army which has thus conditioned itself to live in catacombs is
prepared for modern defense in its most terrible aspect.
No less clear to the eye than the vulnerability of Pork Chop
as a defensive position was the untimely weakness of its tem-
porary garrison. Easy Company, normally strong when col-
lected, was only half present on the hill, due to the exigencies
Detail of Pork Chop's entrenched works showing the main bunkers
and defensive wire.
of moving day. Harrold's total strength within the perimeter
counted 96 men, including artillery, medical and engineer at-
tachments. On Pork Chop, there were but two rifle platoons,
the First and Third, and they mustered but 76 men.
Worse yet, not all of them were available to man the main
rampart. Twenty had been paired off for duty as outguards.
After dark, they would descend to ten listening posts which
formed a crescent around the lower forward and flank slopes
of the hill. There they would await any approach by the
enemy, hoping to sound the alarm and then duck back.
Another group of five men was to form half of a patrol
which was to prowl the small valley forward of Pork Chop
during the hours around midnight. It did not occur to Har-
rold that sending a patrol out to brace an expected attack in
n8 Pork Chop Hill
main could hardly be profitable. The plan had been set sev-
eral days before. He abided by it.
On one score only the lieutenant felt some extra assurance;
the men would be on their toes, and if the attack came, sur-
prise would not attend it. To that end, he had taken special
precaution. On hearing from G2 that the Chinese planned to
attack on 16 April, he had passed the information along to
his chief subordinates, leaving it to them to tell the other men.
Now he was happy that the word had been spread around;
that meant that the company would be fully alerted and
would require no extra tightening during the waiting time.
This confidence steadied Harrold through the early eve-
ning. It made him feel better during the fight. While it was
a reasonable assumption, based upon what he knew and had
tried to do, it was still far wrong. He had given the word but
it hadn't trickled down. Finally, only a small remnant of Easy
came through the fight. All survivors were asked if they had
known an attack was imminent. Three said yes, the others no.
Not a man in the outguard or patrol had heard the vital in-
formation. They regulated what they did by the accustomed
routine. There was no added alertness.
So it was that the patrol departed the company lines not
knowing that it might bump a full-scale attack, to be scouted
but not engaged.
So it was that the twenty riflemen in the outguard listening
posts got no special instructions when at 1937 hours they quit
the main trench to take watch positions on the lower slopes.
These sightings had been chosen with an eye to viewing as
much of the approaches as possible. Thus, because of the
uneven ridge fingers, the posts were at varying distance from
the perimeter, 125 to 300 yards.
The twenty listeners did not dig in: they used whatever
natural rock or bank cover they found. The positions were
supposed to be changed from night to night for greater secur-
ity. But because few rock projections were available, the rule
was honored more in the breach than in the observance.
Once settled among the rocks, the outguards went silent
and stayed put. This was the order and they obeyed it. Except
for the periodic report by telephone to the company, it was
a monotonous and stupefying vigil.
Had they talked, it might have been about the weather, for
now the Korean spring was at its best. The slopes of their
battlement were fragrant from the profusion of wild plums
and chindolea blossoms. The air was balmy. A cloudless day
was giving way to a starlit night. The pall of smoke, arising
from numerous forest fires, and dressing the far horizon, was
the only reminder that the season had been excessively dry.
For the next three hours, life was reasonably comfortable,
relatively assuring, among the outguards and in the half-com-
pany on the bunker line. Despite its incongruity with the
other parts of the main defensive line, Pork Chop in itself
was a snug position. The little hill had been engineered ac-
cording to the pattern then conventional with Eighth Army.
It was a buffer intended to break up the Chinese attack before
it could violate the main line. A solidly revetted rifle trench
encircled it at the military crest, providing wall and some roof
cover, which served for defense in any direction. Sandbagged
and heavily timbered, fire-slotted bunkers were tied into the
trench line at approximately 3o-yard intervals. They gave
fxoops protection while affording observation and command
of the slope. These were stout, unblemished works. They had
been but recently overhauled and fire had not yet marred
The top of Pork Chop was pushed in, like the dent in the
crown of a hat In consequence, its works could not form an
evenly rounded perimeter. The dent was on the rearward side
120 Pork Chop Hill
of the hill. This draw, reaching to the crest, in effect produced
a divided perimeter. The two platoons were loosely joined in
the center. But the odd shape of the hill nonetheless put
them in separate compartments.
Some time after 2200, and somewhat before 2300, approxi-
mately two full companies of Communist infantry left Hasak-
kol, and crossing the valley, got almost to the Pork Chop
rampart without anyone atop the hill becoming aware.
They had been sighted and engaged by the Easy patrol in
the bottom of the small valley. Before they had climbed more
than halfway, they were seen by at least ten men in the out-
guard line. Still, due to the extraordinary mischance of battle,
the company got no warning until the assault broke like a
flood against First Platoon's sector on the left hand of Pork
Chop. Its surge is therefore best followed through the eyes
of the sentinels on the lower ridge. There are gaps in the story.
Of the twenty men, only seven got back.
On Outguard No. 41, Pvt Kim Tong Ki was paired with
Pvt. Mike Cowles. They were nested behind a large boulder
which partly concealed them. Looking downslope, Kim saw
three Chinese approaching; in the darkness he could not see
how they were armed. He whispered to Cowles wHl^tried to
get Harrold on the telephone. The line was dead. By the time
that fact registered the Chinese were within 15 yards. Kim
threw a grenade. It exploded between the first two men, killing
both. The third man ran. Not knowing what to do, Kim and
Cowles waited there.
Artillery began to pound the slope, hitting just below them.
Kirn asked, "We better go top of hill?" Cowles answered,
"No, the lieutenant didn't say so." This difference of opinion
caused constraint between them and they both relapsed into
sullen silence. Kim started to pull out and Cowles held him
by the legs. Then an artillery shell exploded just a few yards
behind them and part of the blast struck Cowles' head, Kim
crawled over and leaned above him but did not touch him.
The steel had cut the head badly and the blast had almost
covered it with earth and small rock. Cowles' pulse wasn't
checked. Kim simply noted that he was motionless.
Stopped by superstition, he was equally afraid to touch
Cowles or leave him. He simply lay down beside him and
remained the night, shaking all over and unable to sleep.
When dawn came, he ran for the company trench and made
it Three other shells had exploded so close to Outguard No.
41 that Cowles' body was already half buried by the dirt
spray. Kim reported of him, "I look. No see much. He no talk.
No move. Seem dead."
On all outguard posts, it was the company custom to team
GIs and Koreans, under the peculiarly limiting instruction
that only the American would use the telephone or exert other
initiative. At Post No. 41, Pvt. Cho Sung Man was paired with
Pvt Jose St Nicholas. They had not been told that an attack
was expected. They knew it first when, under the light of a
flare, as the artillery opened fire, they saw three Chinese walk
ing, moving upslope straight toward them.
St. Niqjplas got through on the phone to his platoon leader,
and while he was speaking, Sung tried to fire. But his Mi was
dirty and wouldn't work. The lieutenant told St Nicholas to
withdraw at once. They made it to the trench before the
artillery had shifted to the upper slope. There they separated,
Sung heading immediately for the company chow bunker be-
cause he was hungry. He still did not know that the company
position had been penetrated. As he entered the chow bunker,
four Chinese held him at rifle point One of them said in
clear English, 'Tut your hands up!" Sung dropped his Mi
and reached. Two other company Koreans entered the chow
bunker door perhaps twenty minutes later. There was no need
,122 Pork Chop Hill
to disarm them; they had thrown their weapons away. With-
out difficulty, the four Chinese made them prisoner.
On Outguard No. 43, Pvt. Koe Kop Chin was teamed with
Private Fugett. Neither had been warned that an attack was
expected. So when they heard the sounds of distant firing
from the direction of the valley, it did not particularly alarm
them. After that there was a brief interval of silence. The tele-
phone rang; a voice on the hot loop said, "An attack is com-
ing." Then they saw a Chinese company upwards of seventy
menmarching uphill in three platoon columns, straight to-
ward their position. Fugett tried to call the company, and on
finding that the line was dead, he called to Kop, "Follow me,
Fm getting out."
As they sprang up and into the open, running for the main
trench, the Chinese saw them and raced in pursuit. Fugett
was slowed by the weight of his weapon, a light machine gun,
and continued to lose ground. As he landed in the trench, the
foremost Chinese were already swarming over the parapet.
Fugett tried to swing the weapon around but didn't have
time. One Chinese tried to wrest the gun from his hands. An-
other Chinese, standing atop the parapet, fired a tommy gun
burst into the two struggling men, killing them both.
Kop had watched this, but was powerless to help Fugett,
having thrown his rifle away during the dash uphill. He
moved on down the trench, expecting to find help at the
chow bunker. He was one of the Koreans who walked into
the trap which had already caught Pvt. Cho Sung Man. Their
four captors prodded them with rifles and they started march-
ing, beyond the perimeter and downslope toward Hasakkol.
A grenade, thrown by an unknown hand, killed one of the
guards before they got clear of the main trench. Two hundred
yards downslope, an artillery shell landed amid the party.
Captors and captives hit the dirt together. The round killed
one Chinese and the unidentified Korean. Private Kop jumped
for one of the other guards while he was still down, wrested
his tommy gun free and shot the two remaining Chinese.
Then Kop and Sung ran back to the trench.
Each of these incidents among the outguards was like a
play within a play. It ran its own course from beginning to
end and did not alter or moderate the sequence of events
affecting the company. Harrold did not hear what had be-
fallen any of his outguards until the following day. No mes-
sage got back "to him. The few who escaped the Chinese were
caught by separate eddies of the fight as they jumped into
the main trench, and no man returned to Harrold.
His view of the way in which the company became beset
necessarily differed from theirs. Harrold could be impressed
only by what he saw, heard or felt while within the CP
bunker. And for the same reason, First and Third Platoons,
each fighting an isolated battle, had neither light nor guide,
nor any exact knowledge of what was happening to any other
element on the hill Each saw the storm break in a different
way and felt it mount to crisis in a different hour. The out-
guard was finished, its members either dead or in flight, before
the others knew.
In First Platoon's sector, SFC Carl Pratt and his men could
hear both the yelling of the enemy and the pounding of the
artillery fire against Pork Chop's slopes. But while these effects
were unnerving during the early stage of the action, there
was no great tension among the men.
The enemy was not to be seen and the fire, obviously, was
going high. So the platoon stayed in bunkers, or sought cover
under those parts of the trench which were roofed with logs
and sandbags, lest the flash fires suddenly shift During the
first half-hour of the battle, its men had no feeling that their
124 Pork Chop Hill
sector was close-pressed or that the Chinese assault was tight-
ening around the hill.
This illusion of relative safety was in sharp contrast with
Lieutenant Harrold's reading of the situation from the far
side of the perimeter where sat the Company CP.
His own ground was not yet under attack. As of 2300 hours,
he was not yet sure that a general assault was gathering. He
had received no messages either from the patrol or the out-
guard posts which warned him that the Chinese were coming
on in large numbers. So he was still playing it by ear, lest by
premature and exaggerated warnings, he give higher com-
mand the idea that his own nerves were edgy. His trouble was
that he had heard or seen no positive sign of a major change
in situation and he was loath to guess.
Yet in the end, that was what he did. As the minute hand
of his watch passed 2300, a few enemy artillery rounds came
in singly. He had seen it happen bef ore, a few teasing shells,
followed by a double whanimy.
Sure enough, the steel deluge followed in less than a min-
ute. But he had already told Lieuts. Jack Attridge and Harold
Wilson to phone the men on outguard duty telling them
that they must immediately withdraw. The call to Wilson got
through both by radio and telephone; but with two excep-
tions, Wilson could get no response from the men on the
outguard line. When Harrold tried to get an O.K. from At-
tridge on his message over the single wire, suddenly the line
went dead. Via the hot loop, he was still connected with the
battalion commander, Major Swazey, and the other com-
panies, but the cutting of his line to First Platoon made him
As he listened in that direction, he felt certain that he could
hear a strong buildup of submachine-gun fire against First
Platoon's sector. He still had seen no Chinese; nor had any
enemy movement been reported to him. Still hesitating over
his course, he picked up the phone to talk things over with
Battalion. That line also had gone dead meantime and its
failure, coupled with the intensity of the Chinese bombard-
ment, forced his decision.
He stepped to the CP doorway and fired a red star rocket,
signaling, * We are under full attack/ 7 Within seconds there-
after, he fired a second rocket, this time a red star cluster,
meaning, "Give us Flash Pork Chop/' The second flare didn't
quite clear the doorway; its backlash set the bunker afire and
for several minutes the men in the CP had to bail out of their
shelter to fight the blaze.
Even so, the badly directed rocket did its work. At 2305,
the lights came on over Pork Chop, and most of the men still
in the open trenches ducked for cover, reading aright the
signal that a killing proximity fuse fire coupled with high ex-
plosive shell would shortly follow. Two minutes later came the
VT, not in overpowering volume but fired by a single battery
of artillery. Even so, Pfc. Richard Long, of the CP group,
having missed the flare signal, was struck down by the fire.
He was probably the only victim of this weak, opening
American counter to the enemy barraging, since there is
nothing to indicate that the main body of Chinese was yet
closed upon the Pork Chop works, and much to suggest that
they were delaying their final rush until their own preparation
First Platoon's side of the hill, which had given Harrold
the greatest concern in the opening minutes, was still un-
violated when the first VT shower came down. The men
cleared into the bunkers, still not having seen a live enemy.
For approximately twenty minutes thereafter, the mixed
fires, part Chinese, part American, kept them there. At 2325,
the hill became absolutely quiet. Attridge called to Pratt, "1
126 Pork Chop Hill
think we better walk over to the CP and see about repairing
our communications/' But when they got into the trench a
few minutes later, Pratt suggested that while Attridge was
visiting with Harrold, he would talk things over with the pla-
toon's own wire man, Corporal Renfrew.
As Pratt neared Renfrew's bunker, a first aid man, Private
Rice, came running from it carrying a carbine, and yelling,
"Look! Look!" Pratt followed his point; under a covered
section of the trench, not more than 30 feet away, six Chinese
walked toward them. Rice was already firing. Pratt joined
with his Mi. Two Chinese fell. The others ran back along
the trench and then jumped on the parados, from where
they circled back along the high ground to grenade the ditch
with potato mashers. Too late Pratt yelled, "Watch out!"
The second grenade exploded between him and Rice, killing
Rice instantly and driving Pratt back against the trench wall.
He came out of it with a broken shoulder and both hands
riddled with grenade frags. But not until two days later could
he find time to get first aid.
Corporal Renfrew and Pvt. James O. Harris had sprung
from the bunker in the same moment as Rice, and behind
them came Private Hayford, another aid man. Facing in the
opposite direction within the covered trench, they saw a still
larger Chinese party coming toward them. Both Renfrew and
Harris opened fire with their carbines, and the Chinese, for
the moment, pulled back beyond a turn in the trench wall. So
swiftly had the action taken place that neither man realized
he was fighting almost back-to-back with the others from the
Then the grenade shower which felled Rice and Pratt
dropped. As the first bomb exploded, Renfrew and Harris
ducked back into the bunker. They didn't see the other men
fall. But from inside the bunker, Renfrew heard Hayford
screaming, "Come help me!" He returned to the trench and^
taking Hayford by the shoulders, dragged him inside. Then
he saw that a grenade had blown off Hayford's left leg at the
knee. For the next few minutes, he was busy tourniqueting
That was the beginning of a dance with death for the two
able-bodied men. Renfrew threw sandbags against the door.
The Chinese went downslope and grenaded through the
bunker embrasure. Harris and Renfrew tried to field and re-
turn the grenades. But six exploded within the walls. Two of
them blew fragments into Hayford's good leg and the lower
part of his body. The grenading was followed by a strafing
by two Chinese armed with tommy guns. They also stood at
the window. Renfrew and Harris escaped the fire by pressing
tight into the corners on either side of the embrasure. There
was no escape for Hayford.
By then, Lieutenant Harrold was already calling for VT
fire in maximum volume on Pork Chop, sending the message
via the radio of his artillery observer, Lieutenant Anderson.
When it came in, the Chinese were driven from the em-
brasure, and the men in the bunker knew an interval of rela-
What happened there was typical of the scene elsewhere
on the hill for the next hour or more. Both in the assault and
defense, there was virtual infantry paralysis because of the
intensity and accuracy of the artillery concentrations coming
from opposite directions against the crown of the ridge. The
Americans had not been permitted time for collected action.
The Chinese had not hit hard as tactical groups during the
few opportune minutes of relative quiet when they might
have wiped out Easy Company fraction by fraction. With
the renewal and intensifying of the artillery duel, the open
was forbidden to both sides. Their riflemen huddled wher-
ever they could find a protecting wall or roof.
Lieutenant Attridge had gotten back to Harrold's CP just
128 Pork Chop Hill
in time to become confined there by the fire and separated
from his own platoon by the crowding of the Chinese into
the roofed portions of the trench.
The group there survived mainly through the personal fight-
ing power of ist Sgt. Howard Midgeley and Corporal Riepen-
hoff, the company clerk.
Midgeley stood at the bunker door guarding the party with
a submachine gun. Others tried to relieve him and take their
turn at the point of main danger. He shrugged them off
silently and pointed to the results of his markmanship as if
asking whether anyone could do any better. He was a method-
ical man. When he downed a Chinese, he dragged the body
next the sandbags so as not to clutter his field of fire. Finally,
the bunker had an extra revetment of thirteen dead Chinese.
RiepenhofF, being a clerk, was more deferential. Armed
with an Mi, he lay on a pile of sandbags at the embrasure,
covering the downslope area. When he saw a Chinese, he said
to Harrold, "Sir, there's a Chinaman. May I have the lieu-
tenant's permission to shoot him?"
Harrold answered, "Permission granted."
Five times it happened, and each time this solemn ritual
Though there were three officers and two other NCOs also
present, the salvation of the CP was worked chiefly by these
two hands. Their fire made a blockhouse of the bunker, bar-
ring the rear door to Pork Chop. The Chinese who had
stormed the position and gotten inside the works could not
pass it to gain the hill's rear slope and cut the route by which
help might come. In the opening thrust, some of the enemy
had won to that point and captured the chow bunker. But
it was a brief hold only, and once released, was not there-
Otherwise, the defense of the hill was without a linchpin.
Such of Third Platoon's 37 men as still lived (six had been
killed on outguard duty as the fight started) were pinned to
their shelters by the bombardment. Of First Platoon's 39
men, there remained, other than Attridge, not one person
who could still move and fire.
First Platoon's only survivors were the half dozen men who
have been mentioned here. Its only acts of successful resist-
ance are the few pitiful examples which have been described.
The platoon was not only whipped but, in effect, destroyed
before it could make a fighting start. The Chinese assault
columns had hit the main line at both ends of First Platoon's
trench sector and then pinched inward toward each other.
Most of Attridge's men were grenaded and machine-gunned
while in their bunkers. What toll they took of the Red Chi-
nese in their last minutes is not known. Later it was impossible
to determine how they had died, for their bodies were either
crushed by falling walls or shredded by the artillery pound-
ing. The difference between Renfrow and Harris and the
majority of their comrades is that the two men lived to tell
By the logical process of killing the tenants and then mov-
ing into their quarters, the Red Chinese came into possession
of half the hill. They had come like phantoms, their swift,
silent movement facilitated by their rubber-soled running
shoes and lack of heavy burdens in the attack. It was their
custom to enter a fight carrying only enough ammunition to
create the initial shock; they counted on capturing American
stores to continue the fight. That risk usually paid off because
of the defender's bad habit of oversupplying the outposts. This
time, having staked their claim to half the hill, they squatted
on it, holding the bunkers instead of continuing down the
trench line. Either they were stopped by exhaustion and fear,
or the haul of captured ammunition was not sufficient
130 Pork Chop Hill
To Harrold's listening ear, the silence from that direction
spoke eloquently. The lack of small-arms fire told him that
First Platoon was dead and he could only surmise that the
Red Chinese were reorganizing at the scene of execution.
To higher command, he had radioed these forebodings,
saying that as he viewed it, there was no longer an American
garrison on Pork Chop Hill. Battalion relayed the informa-
tion rearward and Col. William B. Kern took it at face value.
Shortly before 0200, Kern sent word that he was sending
one platoon of Fox Company and another from Love Com-
pany to attack up the rear slope of Pork Chop with the object
of "re-enforcing" Easy Company. That was how Kern or-
dered it and that was how he supposed that it had been done.
The maneuver is so described, as a two-platoon attack, in the
But there had been many a slip. The Fox platoon, be-
coming lost in the night, never arrived at the fire. The Love
platoon, moving with alacrity on its mission, was not told
that the Red Chinese already swarmed over Pork Chop, and
took literally the guarded statement that its task was the rela-
tively simple one of "re-enforcement." So it marched up the
rear slope in a closed column, not expecting a fight.
This was the body that a few minutes after 0200 got to
within 20 yards of the chow bunker. There a few machine-
gun rounds struck its van, inflicting minor casualties. And
there, because of its closed formation and the total surprise,
it went into recoil, its members running back to the valley.
(See the chapter "Love Alone" for details.) After Love pla-
toon had slipped away, Red Chinese barrage fire swept the
But the realities of this inevitable failure were not known
to Harrold. He had been told that two platoons would hit
and he took it for granted that they were moving in attack
order. To accommodate them, he ordered that the flash fires
be lifted from Pork Chop's crown and shifted 250 yards closer
to enemy country.
So when he saw the forefront of the succoring force dis-
solve, its dissolution followed immediately by the Red Chi-
nese barrage fire, he decided that the Red Chinese were man-
ning the rear slope in great strength and were directing their
artillery by radio from inside his position.
From the roof of Harrold's own bunker, a Chinese machine
gunner was streaming fire in the direction taken by the Love
platoon. Harrold had no way of knowing that almost single-
handed this enemy fighter had precipitated what Harrold be-
lieved to be a two-platoon repulse. A few yards down the
trench from the bunker, a Chinese tommy gunner was firing
toward wounded Sergeant Pratt who was trying to crawl to
the CP. So Sergeant Midgeley, the one-man show, resumed
fire and shortly killed the two enemy gunners.
Midgeley had stopped briefly for first aid. The Chinese had
pushed a grenade through a crack in the sandbags and he,
Harrold and Lieutenant Anderson, the artillery FO, had all
been wounded by the fragments.
Both artilleries now resumed their heavy pounding of the
hill. The sealing-in effect to the two infantries became ever
more complete. Now holding the greater part of Pork Chop
in numbers which otherwise should have been sufficient to
complete the mop-up, the Chinese didn't venture into the
Anderson's radio had at last been killed by the grenade ex-
plosion. Harrold's one remaining tie to the outside was a
telephone line to his Fourth Platoon, which wasn't on the
hill. Via this roundabout relay, at approximately 0400, he got
a garbled message from Division warning him that, at the first
chance, the Chinese would try to blow up the CP bunker.
132 Pork Chop Hill
He already well knew it. But he answered, "Tell them we
will try to hold. Tell them also that any force set to relieve
us will need flame throwers and heavy rocket launchers." He
was thinking that, with the Chinese solidly lodged in his
works, the soundest tactics would be to burn and blast them
At that point, Sergeant Hutchins, FO for the 8i-mm mor-
tars, counseled an opposite course. He said to Harrold, "I
think we ought to make a break for it now; we may still have
But Harrold shook him off. He was convinced that the
enemy already swarmed over the hill and he was afraid that
by withdrawing now, he might desert those few of his men
who could still be holding in the other bunkers.
So with the help of the others, he now closed the bunker
tight by piling sandbags, the dead radios, the ammo boxes,
sleeping bags and everything else movable against the door
Then he called through Fourth Platoon to ask for a con-
tinuing illumination of the hill. His idea was that if full light
was combined with the VT fire, the Chinese would have even
less inclination to move along the trenches for fear of being
picked off by snipers.
For the next hour the CP group remained virtually im-
mured. As dawn arrived, the American artillery lifted. That
was the first sign to Harrold that a relieving force was knock-
ing at his back door.
Lieutenant Attridge, the only man in the CP not yet a
casualty, started down the trench toward the chow bunker,
intending to guide the relief onto the hill. He was wounded
in the head before he could reach up-coming King Company.
So he returned to the bunker, and its door was sealed again
while the party waited rescue.
The Easy Patrol
. HOUGH IT IS NOT NORMAL PROCEDURE TO LAUNCH A PATROL
against the face of an anticipated attack by the enemy, it was
done on that night
Some days previously 3ist Regiment had scheduled a patrol
action out of Pork Chop Hill for 16 April. It was to have the
routine mission familiar in Korean operations. The patrol
would advance to the valley bottom which divided friendly
and enemy country. On the low ground it would rig an am-
bush. Should it encounter Chinese, it would try to capture a
This was a sensible object along a quiescent front where
the only fighting came of contact between patrols. But it had
no orthodox relationship to preparations against full-scale
attack. The taking of one or two prisoners out of an already
advancing line was not a sure way of getting information and,
in fact, could jeopardize only those who made the attempt.
But having been scheduled, the patrol was not called off.
Why that measure was not taken is subject to but one ex-
planation or excuse. There was no certainty that the attack
rumor would prove true. And when in doubt, as higher com-
manders usually see it, it is best to keep patrolling or troops
will go slack.
So for two days preceding the appointed night, the patrol
went through the accustomed rehearsals in the rear area and
134 Pork Chop Hill
got the usual briefings. The men were told that they would
move out from Pork Chop at approximately 2000, advance to
within 100 yards of the shallow stream which wound through
the valley bottom, and there lie in wait until they saw some
Even when the rumors of an attack were totally discounted
the circumstances were not auspicious for such an undertak-
ing. Easy Company, having just relieved Item, still stood on
Pork Chop in less than half -strength, with only 96 men guard-
ing the hill, including forward observers and medics.
Consequently, to give Easy a fighting chance, it was decided
that half of the patrol of ten enlisted men would be drawn
from Fox Company, with Easy also supplying five. One group
would compose the assault force and the other the support.
That the men did not know each other presaged a lack of
organizational unity within the patrol from the beginning.
Sgt Henry W. Pidgeon of Fox Company got back from a
brief leave at 1600 on the afternoon before the mission to
discover that there is something in a name. Lieut. Robert
Grimes met him at the CP with the word that he would lead
the assault group and be responsible for the patrol as a whole.
The support would be under Sgt. Lovell Poole of Easy Com-
Pidgeon, who is a physically rugged and emotionally mature
soldier, was skeptical from the first about the arrangements,
though he had not yet heard the attack rumor. But when
Grimes asked him, "Are you prepared to lead it?" he an-
The show was jinxed from the beginning. During that eve-
ning between 1600 and 1830, 200 enemy mortar rounds fell
on Pork Chop. There were no casualties but the shelling drove
the men to their shelters. In consequence, the two groups,
occupying bunkers on opposite sides of the hill, did not
The Easy Patrol 135
rendezvous until the last moment, and had time for only a
hit-and-run final briefing before they got away.
Possibly Pidgeon, in his eagerness to get set, pushed his own
group too hard. Poolers men never quite caught up. Both
parties had perforce gone single file through the barb wire,
which scattered and slowed them. By the time Poolers group
had re-collected, Pidgeon's diamond-shape formation had ad-
vanced beyond sight. So Poole led his people to the last knob
on the ridge finger, about 350 yards beyond the main line.
There he set up a horseshoe defense, with Pfc. Joe Miezejewski
on the BAR covering the line to the rear. By phone, he re-
ported to Lieutenant Harrold what had happened.
Pidgeon, arriving in the bottoms and there halting his men
for the moment, started advancing alone to reconnoiter the
spot for the ambush.
Right then, a dozen or more flares from the 8i-mm mortars
brightened the sky directly behind the patrol, throwing its
members sharply into silhouette and casting long shadows
down the vale before they could go flat.
Pidgeon called Harrold, "For God's sake stop the flares!"
There were three more rounds before the valley again went
dark. He then called a second time to report that his men
were on position. The hour was then 2115. Harrold said, "Keep
a sharp lookout. We are expecting a main attack." That some-
what baffled Pidgeon. By his account, this was his first in-
formation that the patrol had been sent forward into an other
than routine situation.
But another hour and fifteen minutes passed before he saw
the enemy for the first time. During the interval, his men had
stayed flattened but alert. The warning of the attack kept
them edgy. Yet they didn't quite believe it until looking at
the slope of the enemy hill called Hasakkol, they saw about
fifty Chinese in line advancing toward them.
136 Pork Chop Hill
Pidgeon sent his point man, Cpl. Robert L. Noel, forward
to scout the moving line, telling him, "See all you can and
report immediately to me." He had not yet called Harrold.
Noel was back within one minute. He said, "They're all
around us. They cover the slope. For Christ's sake, do some-
For the moment, Pidgeon saw nothing to do except re-
enforce the point, sneak it out and attempt to get close
enough to the Chinese to stop them with grenades. He still
was not sure that an attack in main was developing, and
being unsure, he did not call Harrold.
So taking along Private Hall, he joined Noel, and they
moved forward about 25 yards. One group of four Chinese got
to within 20 yards of the rocks which hid them. The Ameri-
cans grenaded together, throwing twelve bombs. One Chinese
ran back. The others disappeared. Though Pidgeon didn't
know whether he had scored any hits, he was surprised that
he got no reply. And he was quite unaware that he had loosed
the first shot in a general battle.
It was then that he tried to call Harrold on the sound power
phone. But it was too late. He had forgotten that minutes
earlier he had explored the forward ground while carrying the
phone, and that its wire had looped around the rocks there
and was not later withdrawn. His own grenades in exploding
had killed his last line of communication. Quickly he went
to Cpl. Henry T. Settle who held the radio on the patrol's left
flank and tried to raise the company. But the radio couldn't
Thereafter for fifteen minutes he waited, then at last gave
the order for the patrol to withdraw. It was too late. The
group got only 40 yards. Suddenly a curtain of 4.2-inortar fire,
ordered by Easy Company to stem the Chinese advance,
dropped between Pidgeon and the main hill, missing his men
The Easy Patrol 137
by scant yards. It was steady fire, eight to ten rounds at a time.
Nearby was a jutting rock ledge which offered partial cover.
Pidgeon and the others crawled under it. Within a few min-
utes, flash fires from the artillery built up the barrage and
extended toward their refuge. One air burst struck Corporal
Noel in the face, neck and chest. He said to Pidgeon, "I've
had it," and he died within a few minutes. Illuminating
rounds now brightened the valley. The rain of steel was un-
ceasing. There was nothing to do but press tighter into the
In the support position, Poole and his men had not heard
the grenading and, for all of Pidgeon 's skirmishing, remained
unaware of the threat mounting in the valley. But at 2245,
Poole, on calling Lieutenant Harrold, was told that the assault
group was expected to "make contact" shortly, and that he
had best advance to assist Pidgeon's party.
He started moving. Harrold, having meanwhile withdrawn
the men on outguard duty to the hill, ordered the barrage. If
it was to work, it had to be accurate. Harrold wanted a horse-
shoe-shaped barrage which would drop even with the outguard
positions and work back gradually until it enfolded Pork
Chop perimeter, thereby eliminating any Chinese who might
be climbing the slope.
But that wasn't what he got.
Poolers party, advancing in a wedge shape, moved 50 yards
closer toward Pidgeon. Then the barrage caught it dead on,
and the formation dissolved as men separately jumped for
rock cover. Privates Williams and Miezejewski, who had
formed the back of the wedge, were cut down, though the
others still didn't know it. Poole tried to get Harrold on the
phone, but the line had been cut by the shelling. Sergeant
Taylor, the artillery FO, tried to raise him on the radio "Peter
io/' But that also failed.
138 Pork Chop Hitt
Then Poole attempted to regroup his survivors, intending
to return to the main line. But such was the persistence of the
fire that he could neither move backward to the hill nor for-
ward to Pidgeon. Now looking toward Hasakkol, the men
Gould count Chinese to the number of several hundred stand-
ing against the skyline. Still other enemy groups, though in
smaller numbers, stood out prominently on the ridge knobs
between the patrol and Pork Chop. These enemy skirmishers
were well inside the barrage.
An artillery round exploded just above Poole. He took the
fragments in all parts of his body, head, chest, neck and all
four limbs. He said to Pfc. Kenneth Weber, "Now, 111 never
make it." Weber said to him comfortingly, "Sure you can,
111 help you along." With Sergeant Taylor helping, Weber
tried to carry him. But Poole had lapsed into unconsciousness,
and before getting 50 yards, both Taylor and Weber were
down from exhaustion. Weber felt it was useless to continue
the struggle. So they laid Poole in a shell crater, and uncertain
what to do, they rested beside him for the next few minutes,
paying no heed to the barrage or the enemy.
There Private First Class Rawles caught up with them. He
said, "Woll is down there among the rocks; shrapnel got him
through the back." Weber listened, still trying to catch his
breath. At last he heard the cry of Private Woll borne faintly
on the wind, "I'm hit I'm hit. Please don't go off and leave
Alone, Weber went back for Woll, slung him over his
shoulder and carried him upslope to the crater, where he was
put alongside Poole. Woll seemed terribly weak and kept
whispering, "Thank you, thank you, thank you," as Weber
struggled uphill. Within less than a minute after he was
placed beside Poole, a VT shell exploded almost directly
overhead, and a second shard pierced his groin.
The Easy Patrol 139
Weber was again flat out, clean spent by his exertions. Woll
was still conscious. He said to Sergeant Taylor, "Won't
you please take me back to the company? I want to live/'
Taylor replied, "I'll try."
He hoisted Woll and made the start. They were not more
than 20 yards along the trail when another shell exploded
directly overhead. One fragment went through Woll's skull
A second fragment hit Taylor's left ankle, shattering the bone.
Both men had been knocked flat by the violence of the blow.
Taylor crawled over to Woll, felt for the wound and knew
that he was dead. So he crawled back downtrail to the shell
Now there were but two sound men left, Privates Weber
and Rawles. Not only were they tied to the spot by the
wounded, but Weber, by physique, nature and spirit the most
indomitable man in the group, was temporarily exhausted.
For about one-half hour he lay there on his back, saying
nothing and seeing only the stars and the artillery display.
Then he said to the others, "If we expect to live, we've got
to start digging." There were two entrenching spades at hand.
Weber and Rawles set to work. Occasionally, Taylor spelled
them. Though he couldn't get on his feet, the dirt around the
crater was loose, and he could still work the spade with his
That task occupied them until about 0400, They had to
suspend it when Rawles, glancing downslope, saw eight Chi-
nese aid men advancing straight toward them. His own Mi
was so fouled with dirt that it wouldn't fire and so was
Weber's. Taylor was carrying a .45 Colt pistol. Weber bor-
rowed it, waited until the leading pair of Chinese got within
about seven yards of him and shot them both dead. The
others scampered away, dropping their stretchers as they ran.
Not a word was spoken during the action.
140 Pork Chop Hill
They stayed there, digging fitfully, whenever they could
summon the energy. Now when shells came in, they no longer
bothered to dodge back into the crater. Their response to the
situation had become almost trancelike. They worked auto-
matically as the ebb and flow of strength permitted it, and
they guarded in much the same way. But an awareness of
danger no longer possessed them. Later, that surprised them:
that they had reached a point where death seemed not to
First light came, and they were still working. Coinciden-
tally, there was a great flash just outside the crater. An explod-
ing 4.2-mortar shell lifted a large rock slab and dropped it
into the hole on top of Rawles, breaking both of his legs. The
concussion, pounding his head against the bank, knocked him
There was now left only Private Weber in fighting condi-
tion. Taylor could still fire but he couldn't walk. As the sky
brightened, he crawled over to Weber's foxhole. For perhaps
one-quarter-hour they sat there together, saying nothing. Both
were too far gone for speech, but each drew spiritual warmth
from the other.
Then at last Weber broke the silence, and for some min-
utes they talked, going over all of the painful facts in their
Finally Weber asked, "Well, what do we do now?"
Taylor answered, "I don't see that we can do anything. If
you went alone, you couldn't make it back to the hill. Not
until the artillery lifts."
But the artillery wasn't lifting that morning. Within easy
sight of home base, they had to stay there, without food,
water, first aid or arms, other than the .45 pistol.
Pidgeon and his party had somehow missed them in the
darkness. At 0445, Pidgeon had decided to pull away from
The Easy Patrol 14*
his shelter under the rock ledge and try to make it to Pork
Chop. He figured there was less risk in passing through the
barrage than in greeting the dawn still in enemy country.
Having no idea that his support had been shattered, he and
the three others moved up hill as noiselessly as possible, leav-
ing Private Noel's body.
They mounted as far as the saddle of the ridge which usu-
ally cradled Outguard No. 40. By then they had passed
through the fires uninjured. As they walked toward the decliv-
ity used by the outguard, they saw that it was filled with Chi-
neseabout two squads of them.
But it was the enemy that was surprised. Pidgeon yelled,
"Fire!" and they did it together, two Mis and two carbines.
The rifles emptied, they didn't stop to reload, or measure the
execution. Bullets were already zinging against the rocks
under their feet Pidgeon turned and ran back down to the
stream bed, his three men following. They walked eastward
along the river bank until they came out at the Fox Company
In the downward flight as in the upward climb, Pidgeon's
group must have passed within a few yards of the crater held
by Taylor and Weber. But they saw and heard nothing of
each other. The exertion either of moving or digging on a
battlefield is somewhat preoccupying.
For Weber and Taylor, the day dragged slowly on. They
stayed low in their foxholes. The artillery fires continued to
interdict the slope. From where they looked, the hill now
seemed to be cratered right to the summit. Within the val-
ley, there was no sign of a moving enemy. Still, they gained
no impression of how things were going atop Pork Chop.
Taken up with their own problems, they did not guess that
the fight there might have gone against the company. It was
home base and they yearned to return to it.
142 Pork Chop Hill
By midafternoon both men knew that they would either
get out together, or not at all, though they did not express
this thought to each other. Poole was now motionless and
they thought him dead. Rawles was unconscious from the pain
and strain and would be dead weight. Throats so parched
that speech had become difficult, they looked longingly at
the river. But it was forbidden them by the interdicting shell-
fire from the Chinese. In fact, it was the enemy mortars and
artillery, more than their own, which kept them pinned down
through most of the day.
At about 1900, they saw a curtain of white phosphorus
shells breaking along the river bank and smoking it for sev-
eral hundred yards.
Weber said to Taylor, "That must be to cover a screening
patrol. Maybe they are sending someone out for us."
For at least thirty minutes the smoke thickened and they
waited. Weber had been wrong in his surmise. The smoke
was not concerned with the patrol. It had been thrown out
to cover a counterattack by Fox Company of the iyth Regi-
ment up Pork Chop Hill.
Then suddenly there was a brief lull in the Chinese barrag-
ing with only a few shells coming in. Taylor said, "Let's go/'
They climbed the ridge with Taylor using an Mi as a cane.
Weber carried him through the wire. There was still a hand-
ful of Americans atop Pork Chop fighting to hold the
trenches. Friendly arms were opened to receive them.
All of King's Men
T T HEN KING COMPANY DARED THE SLOPE THAT MORNING ITS
strength seemed ample for the task ahead according to the
reading of the situation taken by Battalion and all higher
These rearward views were wishful and perforce badly in-
formed. All that was known of the infantry fight on Pork
Chop had come from Lieutenant Harrold and Harrold had
not been able to leave his own bunker. All the higher com-
mands knew was that there were some Chinese on the hill
who could be re-enforced through the valley.
In King Company were 135 men under Lieut. Joseph G.
demons, Jr. King had spent a quiet night in a reserve posi-
tion behind Hill 347. All hands had had a late meal and
caught a few hours' sleep. At 0330 demons was told by phone
to move the company into an attack position behind Hill 200,
just to the rear of Pork Chop.
The trucks were already on their way. King was ready when
the convoy arrived. For each rifle there was a full belt and
extra bandolier. Each rifleman carried three or more grenades.
There were six BARs in each platoon with twelve magazines
per weapon. Five boxes of ammo were carried for each LMG.
Because Harrold had so recommended, each platoon took for-
ward a flame thrower and heavy rocket launcher.
When King unloaded behind Hill 200, Lieut Col. John N.
144 Pork Chop Hill
Davis was already waiting in a bunker. He suggested to
demons that in counterattacking Pork Chop's rear slope,
King should hit with two platoons abreast and one in reserve.
The mixed situation on the summit was not made clear to
demons because Davis did not know the facts, demons got
the impression that the Chinese held the hill solidly and his
own men could therefore fire without restraint.
As Davis explained it, while King assaulted the rear, two
platoons from Love Company would attack up the ridge fin-
ger on Pork Chop's right. This meant risking a crossfire at the
very point where the converging forces would have to take
hold. But it also made demons feel more resigned to the
absence of his heavy weapons platoon which hours earlier had
been detached for direct support of Westview Outpost.
American VT fire was still raining on top the hill. "Tell
me/' said Davis, ''when you're ready to go and I'll have it
lifted." demons got his platoon leaders together and said
to them, "Hit the hill hard and get to the top as fast as the
men can go. Success depends on speed; we must close before
They were deployed Second Platoon on the right, First on
the left and Third in reserve. The assault platoons walked in
column 400 yards down the road to the assault line at the
foot of Pork Chop. From there, it was only 170 yards to the
nearest fighting bunkers. But the way was very steep, the slope
was rocky and cratered and this was, literally and spiritually,
darkest hour before dawn.
At 0430 demons said to Davis, "We're ready now." Re-
layed to the batteries, the message stopped the fires. King's
men sprang forward, some of them, under prodding by their
NCOs, starting upslope at the double.
Haste made waste. By the time Second Platoon stalled at
the lower side of the five-fold concertina which circled the
All of King's Men 145
hill, SFC Walter Kuzmick felt that the too-brisk start had
been a mistake. The spring had gone from his legs. His men,
panting hard, tugged at rocks and shrubs to assist them. The
more heavily burdened ammo, flame-thrower and launcher
carriers straggled. Still, he yelled out over the line, "Keep
going! Make it fast!" The front runners found gaps in the
barricade, gaps cut by the shellfire. They slipped through and
followed Kuzmick. In the dark he didn't notice that the
freight carriers quit him, dropped their burdens and lay down
next the wire. For the next hour, he was much too busy to
note that they were missing.
Enemy artillery and mortars had wakened to the attack but
were overshooting the mark. The barrage dropped into the
valley 100 yards behind the line of departure. So though the
barb wire which confronted First Platoon was still solid, its
passage was completed uneventfully. Men weighed down the
bands with their bodies and other men used their bodies as
Though King's men completed the climb without one shot
being fired at them, they took 29 minutes to travel the 170
yards from the jumpoff to the height It was the longest res-
pite from fire given them during the day. The Chinese artillery
got the range immediately when they topped the rise. It
doused the hill for ten minutes, then lifted for ten minutes,
a monotonous but effective pattern thereafter steadily main-
First man to enter the Pork Chop works, CpL William H.
Bridges, saw two Chinese rise from among the rocks beyond
the parados and fire directly on First Platoon with subma-
chine guns. He yelled, "Watch out!" and dove for the trench.
The burst cut down five men close behind him.
Pvt Rudolph Gordon made the trench almost at the same
moment Turning leftward, he started for the second bunker
King and Love Companies attacked Pork Chop simultaneously in the
morning. Denton's Platoon had already tried in the night and failed.
All of King's Men 147
down the line. Three grenades came at him from behind its
far wall. They fell short. He and Bridges grenaded back. But
protected by the bunker mass, the Chinese grenadiers played
African dodger, revealing head and shoulder just long enough
to heave their potato mashers.
More First Platoonmen piled into the trench. Two squads
tried to form up on either side of the first bunker, though in
the narrow ditch that merely invited trouble. To protect the
assembly, Cpl. Arsenio Correa jumped onto the parados with
his LMG and fired two boxes of ammo at the bunker door, 25
yards away. The enemy grenadiers centered fire on him but he
was comfortably beyond their range.
Taking advantage of this diversion, SFC Lewis J. Hankey,
Cpl. Wilfred Volk and Pvt. Pak Song crawled along the para-
pet to within five yards of the bunker. From there, they gre-
naded over the wall, throwing ten bombs altogether. It was
even give-and-take. Their sortie silenced the Chinese grena-
diers, but in the exchange Pak was wounded in the head by
the same explosion that shattered Hankey's leg. Volk treated
them where they fell, then left them in the lee of the bunker
wall while the fight went on.
Kuzmick's men encountered their first fire as they came to
the chow bunker, which was some yards downhill from the
main trench. But it was unaimed and going high. On reach-
ing the main trench, Kuzmick kept his squads moving abreast,
intending to mop up the ditch while securing the ground
both ways from it as he swept toward the Pork Chop CP. It
was an elementary precaution taken by him mainly because
the hour was 0520, the hill was still dark and he was fearful
that if he moved in column through the ditch, the Chinese
would close across his rear.
But it was uneven work because of the irregularities in the
ground. On this rear rightside of Pork Chop, which was far-
148 Pork Chop Hill
thest removed from the enemy's point of initial onfall, the
trench was still relatively free of debris. Kuzmick's own party
was therefore unimpeded as it moved in column down the
On the outer wing, Sgt. Rollin Johnson's squad became
strung out as some men sought rock cover to escape the fire
sweeping the downslope. Lieut. Robert S. Cook had joined
Johnson to help control the maneuver toward the CP. Walk-
ing the rampart, along with Pvt. Edgar P. Bordelon, he got
some distance to the fore. At the first fire bunker, Cook was
joined by one of Easy Company's Koreans, who had survived
the night by hugging the sandbag revetment. The three ad-
vanced another 15 yards. From there, Cook could see the CP
bunker door. There was no activity. Bordelon fired a few test-
ing rounds at it from his carbine. From within came a voice,
"Hold fire! We're GIs." But wishing to see more, Cook did
not instantly call warning to the skirmishers behind him.
During these minutes, Sgt. Norbert Huffman's squad had
even harder going crossing the infield. The upslope was an
obstacle course of rock outcroppings and shell craters. Over
this treacherous surface were scattered smoke-blackened tree
stumps looking like sitting men in the half-light. The flank-
ers had to move at a crawl. Kuzmick tried to regulate the ad-
vance of his center in time with the flankers. But it was im-
Huffman got to within 12 yards of the rear of the CP
bunker without ever seeing it. There was a prone Chinese on
the bunker roof holding a light machine gun. Huffman was
still crawling forward when a cluster of five or six heavy gre-
nades, thrown from the far side of the bunker, landed on and
around him. One explosion blew away his right hand. Frag-
ments from other grenades pierced his head, neck and chest.
All of King's Men 149
As he slumped, the machine gunner fired a quick burst at
Cook at that moment had jumped to the rampart, waving
his arms toward Kuzmick's men and yelling, "Come on up!
Get along! Keep moving and we've got it made!" He still said
nothing of the Americans in the CP.
From out the bunker where Cook had liberated the Korean,
a Chinese crawled along the rampart. He heaved a grenade.
Another heavy grenade came sailing from behind the CP wall.
The two grenades exploded simultaneously between Cook and
the Korean, shattering one of Cook's legs and hitting the
Korean in the stomach and groin.
Before anyone in the platoon could react to fire a shot, five
Chinese jumped from behind the bunker wall down into the
trench and disappeared from sight into the wreckage forward.
Pvt. Thomas M. Dugan stopped to put a tourniquet on Huff-
man's stump. Then seeing that he was unconscious and bleed-
ing from many wounds, Dugan carried him back to the chow
bunker, where he could be given serum albumen to stave off
The other men did not recoil or hesitate. It was simply that
in their state of fatigue they could not change motion quickly
enough. For the last several minutes the hill had been quiet
of artillery; but while the enemy barrage lasted, they had still
pressed on. In a situation for which their training had little
prepared them, they had responded as cheerfully as American
troops are ever likely to do. No one had told them that in
modern war, you may repeatedly get within 20 feet of your
enemy, and still not know where his defense is hidden.
Kuzmick dashed toward the bunker door, intending to gre-
nade it In that tense second, Lieutenant Attridge looked out.
His head was bandaged. His arm also was cocked to throw a
150 Pork Chop Hill
grenade an eloquent measure of the confusions of that morn-
The sight of Attridge stopped Kuzmick cold. Right on his
heels was demons, who was so astonished that he simply
gaped. Neither of King's leaders had been told about the
party of Easy wounded in the CP. They thought Harrold's
company was out of it, and they had no reason to look for any
friends on the hill.
This tableau was broken up before anyone could cry out.
Three rounds of artillery exploded directly into the scene.
Their source was never determined. But because the Com-
munist fire had lifted a few moments before, the men all con-
cluded these were "shorts" from their own support batteries.
One round exploded into the bunker door, giving Attridge
his second wound in the head. The other two fell about 25
yards behind Kuzmick, wounding three of his Koreans.
To the platoon it was a kick in the groin. Until then, the
flank had kept pressing despite the leg weariness of the men.
But the impression that they had been fouled by their own
guns impacted on them more heavily than the wounding of
Cook and Huffman. Shock had stifled elation in the worst
possible moment. Kuzmick's men recoiled bewildered and
listless and for minutes made no attempt to do anything. The
flank as a whole never got going again. In war, one resolute
soul can bind the excited minds of many men in a kind of
bloody mesmerism; and one small accident can in a twinkling
snap that chain of force.
Followed the dull anticlimax. Pvt Samuel K Maxwell went
on alone to the CP. There were five wounded men inside, one
with a leg missing. Attridge was still conscious. Harrold told
Maxwell to return to the fight; he would look after his own
The sun was edging the horizon; the dark had gone. Pvt.
All of Kings Men 151
George Atkins, covering Second Platoon as rearguard, brought
news to demons. From a high knob, he had looked westward
and seen "many Chinese" moving on Pork Chop from the di-
rection of Princeton OP.
demons called on radio. Would the artillery plaster Prince-
ton Hill and drop a curtain in the valley between Pork Chop
and Hasakkol to choke off re-enforcement? The answer was
yes, but the requested fires never came in. Three medium
tanks, which had been attached to King as support, were still
idling around the base of Hill 200, some 500 yards rearward,
demons switched them to the low ground west of Pork Chop.
Their guns diverted the enemy approach from the westward
but couldn't dam the flow of Chinese from Hasakkol through
Some hours later the tankers asked, and received, permis-
sion to withdraw, apprehensive that if Clemons was re-en-
forced, their vehicles would become the target of the Chinese
artillery attack. Clemons watched the tanks pull out, reflect-
ing bitterly that because of the withdrawal, his riflemen would
get the undivided attention of the enemy guns.
A few of KuzmicFs men picked up and started moving
down the trench. Before they could pass the CP bunker, they
were stopped by a blast of bullet fire coming from downhill on
their right. This time there was no choice about returning it.
The fire was from Love Company, attacking up the right-
hand finger. King's men tried to signal Love to shut it off,
but the fire was too intense to stand against. It died only after
Love had been bled into silence.
By these stages, all group initiative became lost to the com-
pany. Such energy as remained to King's leaders was chan-
neled for the most part into personal effort. The attack carried
on only because a number of the more resolute individuals
engaged in widely separated and almost unrelated actions,
152 Pork Chop Hill
demons personally was between the devil and the sea. The
harder he pressed the fight forward, the greater became his dis-
organization to rearward, where evacuation of casualties was
still proceeding empirically, ^ supply remained unassured, his
channels to outside were narrowing and his heavy weapons
carriers were shirking the fight. He did not have enough able-
bodied men to take the hill by storm; he had too many to
plead fatal weakness. The few who remained fighting were
dangerously dispersed; to withdraw and regroup them would
yield hard-won ground to the enemy snipers. It was time to
look things over more carefully and get his house in order
if possible. With his executive, Lieut* Tsugi O'Hashi, he
walked back to the chow bunker.
On the right of Pork Chop, Sergeant Johnson, joined by
Sgt Robert E. Hoffman, continued to bore in, moving straight
down the trench. They came to a bunker where two men from
Easy's third platoon had survived the night by playing pos-
sum. At dawn three enemy grenadiers had discovered them
and begun to bomb their hiding. Having snatched a few hours'
sleep, the two Easy men had freshened. They decided to fight
back, though between them, they had but one dirty carbine,
which wouldn't fire automatic, and one steel helmet. So they
took fifteen-minute turns at the fire post, one man operating
as sniper from behind the bunker wall while the other man
stayed inside. They had bagged no game but their show of
resistance had been enough to keep the three grenadiers from
One of the men motioned to Hoffman and Johnson to
move on along the trench and try to take the grenadiers in
flank while he held their attention from in front. By then, sev-
eral other of King's men had reached the spot. Before Johnson
could start his deployment, seven artillery rounds (Chinese)
Ml of King's Men 153
exploded along the embankments. One round silenced the
Chinese grenadiers. Another landed among the Americans.
CpL Robert Rossrilli was arm's length from Johnson as the
round came in. The explosion sat him down hard on his
buttocks and the shock was so violent that he at first sat there
stunned, certain that half of his seat had been shot away.
Because the trench was partly covered and half-filled with
wreckage, he momentarily lost sight of Johnson.
Then he heard a voice say calmly, "Well, I'll be damned, I
am wounded/ 7 Johnson got up, not more than six feet away.
The shoulder of his jacket was already blood-soaked, one
large fragment having cut him to the bone. He called out in a
booming voice, "Hoffman, it's time for you to take over."
Then he walked rearward along the trench. But for the time
being, he didn't get very far. For the next twenty minutes or
so, Hoffman could hear him belaboring the stragglers farther
down the trench, "Damn you, get up there and help Hoff-
man." There was a payoff even in the sound of his voice.
Almost coincidentally, the first flame thrower got up to
demons. Its operator, Pfc. William W. Sykes, was given a
squad under Sergeant Asman to run interference for him, as
he advanced toward a bunker 50 yards forward on the left
side of the hill. Approximately a dozen Chinese grenadiers
were nesting there, some inside, and others behind the sand-
bag revetments, and their combined efforts had kept that
alley tight blocked.
Asman and his party moved forward cautiously, spread over
both embankments. As their forefront got to within throwing
distance of the bunker, a shower of grenades exploded among
them, battering Asman around the head and neck and wound-
ing every other member of the squad. The Chinese had quit
the bunker, then regrouped on the high ground inside the
154 Pork Chop Hill
trench and grenaded the party from the flank as it came
Not seeing how it had happened, Sykes continued right
down the trench with his flame thrower and, getting to the
bunker door, flamed the inside for thirty seconds. The door
frame caught fire. Then another grenade landed in the trench,
exploding its fragments into Sykes' buttocks. He couldn't
make his legs move. Pfc. James Freley helped him from the
hill, surprised that Sykes had made his run, gotten hit and
then retired without uttering a sound. Sykes still carried his
flame thrower. It was now empty but no one thought to re-
lieve him of it.
When Asman's party was dissolved, the Chinese grena-
diers returned to the trench, beat out the fire set by Sykes
and reoccupied the bunker. By then demons was ready with
a new weapon. Another of his stragglers had at last come
forward with a 3.5 rocket launcher. But the boy looked too
frightened to do a job with it. demons handed the launcher
to Sgt. Frank Krohn who crawled along the trench and from
a range of 20 yards put four rockets against the bunker. It
brought down part of the wall and ended the grenading.
A trio of riflemen who had followed Krohn, keeping flat
while he fired, ran on past the bunker. For most of the rest of
its length on the west side of the hill the trench had been cov-
ered over with beams of pinewood and blinders, heaped with
sandbags and, in some places, with several feet of earth. The
theory behind the covered trench was that it would prevent
enfilade and afford protection against overhead fire; the fault
in the theory was that it assumed the garrison would always
be able to hold more tenaciously there than elsewhere. Artil-
lery had crushed in the roof at several points. These splin-
tered sections had become successive barricades. A slight rise
in the trench floor terraced them one behind the other,
All of King's Men 155
making each a concealed fire port. Fire came from them but
the firers could not be seen. No hand-carried weapon could
batter through these successive layers. The three riflemen
took a quick look and then pulled back.
Such was the dispersion that it was impossible to count
f noses. But demons made a rough guess that he had lost at
least half of his men. Most of them had been knocked out by
grenade fire. The enemy had been prolific, but unskilled in his
use of the tommy gun. Apart from the worrisome noise, it had
done little damage. What plagued demons worst was the
fear that his own men were about out of ammunition, though
fanned out as they were, he could get no accounting of it. He
decided that it was time to call his reserve platoon into the
On the right of the hill, as on the left, progress was made
possible by the action of one weapon in the hands of a deter-
mined man. Two enemy-occupied bunkers, on opposite sides
of the trench and 40 feet apart, had stalled advance there.
Burp-gun fire laced the ditch, the gunners operating from the
bunker doors, while from behind the bunker walls, grenadiers
covered the embankments.
Thirty yards short of this enemy block was an unoccupied
bunker partly collapsed by the shellfire. Timing his advance
to Krohn's attack with the 3.5 rocket launcher, Sgt Lovell
Jenkins ran for the bunker's nigh wall, carrying a light ma-
chine gun. From its shelter, he emptied four cases of am-
munition into the two fighting bunkers. The gun was
"behaving like a lamb" and as fast as it emptied, Sergeant
Kuzmick was getting up to Jenkins with resupply. Quite sud-
denly, resistance died. Looking to the right^ Jenkins saw about
fifteen Chinese break into the open just beyond the two bunk-
ers and start downslope. They were close bunched and almost
tripping on each other's heels. He turned the gun that way.
156 Pork Chop Hill
They seemed to stop "quite suddenly, as if someone had
pulled a string on them/' Then, almost as one, they pitched
face forward down the slope.
Sergeant Hoffman looked at his watch. It said 0745. The
company had been on the hill approximately two hours. Its
attack under fire had not yet carried more than 200 yards.
Not more than one man in five had pushed hard in the fore-
front of the action. But it was clear to Hoffman that the com-
pany already was at the point of physical exhaustion. There
was no talk among the men and very little movement. Some
of the riflemen were dragging their weapons as if too spent to
carry them. Others sat in the trench staring vacantly. When
the NCOs tried to direct them, their words blurred.
Kuzmick was astonished at his own physical weakness. For
the march-up, he had loaded himself as lightly as possible to
conserve strength, carrying only his rifle, canteen and one belt
of ammunition. Now he felt as if his legs couldn't take him
"to the next bunker" and as he looked over the other survivors
of Second Platoon, he could see that they were in no better
But the job was not yet half-done. The Chinese still sat in
the bunkers along two-thirds of the trench line and held all
of the covered parts of the trench. The battering which the
artillery had given the works in order to kill men had but
made it easier for the remnants of the two garrisons to stand
off each other. The collapsing of a great part of the trench
wall made impossible any sighting along it. Bunker doors had
broken down under the weight of their own sandbags and no
longer served as a portal for grenading. Timbers which had
supported the near ends of the covered trench were splintered
and fallen, closing the trench to sight and sortie and giving
tactical cover to its defenders. From within this jumbled
ruin, potato-masher grenades were hurled toward the Ameri-
All of Kings Men 157
cans in large number, and an almost incessant burp-gun fire
on both sides of the hill kept them pinned to the defilades
churned up by the night's shelling. But the wreckage hid all
other animation and they looked vainly for the coign of the
Feeling that King's men had stretched almost to the break-
ing point, demons saw no choice but to mark time while
waiting for help. He was no longer in touch with higher com-
mands. The artillery had cut his telephone lines and his five
radios had been killed one by one by direct fire. Three of the
operators had been hit and evacuated from Pork Chop. From
the chow bunker, where the wounded were taken, back to
Hill 200, a personnel carrier was now on continuous shuttle
taking out the worst cases. One vehicle had been smashed by
a mortar shell which killed the driver and rewounded two
passengers. It was quickly replaced. From Hill 200 the casual-
ties were moved rearward by litter jeep and chopper.
The Love force which had fought its way up the right-hand
finger at last closed on the trench. There remained but twelve
beat-up men, as worn as demons' own, under command of
Lieut. Arthur A. Marshall. Sixty-two had started with Lieut.
Forrest J. Crittenden. Wounded, he had given way to Lieut.
Homer F. Bechtel who was quickly struck down by a grenade.
Before Marshall could fit his twelve men into demons' lines,
submachine-gun fire cut the number to ten.
They had tried but they had failed. The maneuver had no
pinching-out effect Those who had arranged it did not fore-
see that with both attacks proceeding on a narrow front, the
entrenched enemy, having the advantage of interior lines,
could keep the downslope hot without lessening resistance to
demons. So Love simply withered away under the blast, and
its beaten remnant at last joined King's men without having
aborted any main portion of the enemy-held works.
158 Pork Chop Hill
Not all of Crittenden's men, however, had been as ready as
their leader to make a good Purple Heart try. Early in the
maneuver, under cover of dark, some had slipped away, rather
than face the fire. Lieut. Virgil W. McCall of Mike Company
rounded up two squads of Love stragglers along the slope of
Hill 200. He marched them back to help demons and, en-
route, captured an unexpected prize. The Red Chinese also
had their duty dodgers. McCall pinioned one of them he
found hiding in a bunker. With the aid of the prisoner, he
lured out four other Chinese who had holed up in a covered
Presenting the bag to demons, he said, "We might try
the same thing here/' demons was willing. The prisoners,
though reluctant, at last agreed to co-operate. McCall pushed
his decoys forward to the bunkers nearest the enemy line.
Covered by McCall's riflemen, they proceeded to make their
surrender appeal. The only visible effect was a sharp increase
in the grenading and automatic fire from out the rubble,
demons said to Pvt. Melvin F. Lucas, "Take the prisoners
off the hill before they get hurt."
From the slackening of the fight for the ditch came further
dispersion. On both sides, men left the guarding of it to out-
posts and scattered over the higher slopes inside the parados;
Among the Americans, this was not a reaction to orders and
the movement was uncollected.
The fighters turned that way individually, partly to escape
the death stench befouling the trenches and partly for sur-
vival. On the upslope there were defiladed craters among the
rocks which might afford more personal protection than the
broken battlements which ran head-on to the artillery shelling.
This instinctive shifting brought the two sides closer to-
gether than before. But there was no grapple or pickup in the
fire engagement. Both sides were touching bottom. In these
All of King's Men 159
minutes, either side might have cleared the hill through the
collected action of twenty or so men moving and firing to-
gether over the high ground in Pork Chop's center, then press-
ing on to the end of the ridge. But there was not that much
unified energy present and the situation all but prohibited
organization of it. When men under fire are physically spent,
widely dispersed, out of water and short of ammunition, the
restoration of group activity is next to impossible. It was a
measure only of their common weariness that these rifle lines
crawled closer to each other not to court death but to escape
it in the rocks and pits of the upgrade.
Such was the situation at 0800. For King's men, the fight
had been underway less than four hours, and in that time,
they had moved under their own power hardly more than one
mile. Canteens had long since been drained in slaking the
heavy thirst of the wounded. Weapons had become so be-
grimed that cleaning required more effort than firing. All of
the extraordinary stresses on the hill were of man's making.
The morning itself was delightfully cool and fair, a typical
day in Korea's loveliest season.
At 0814, re-enforcements began to arrive, at first just a
trickle of riflemen, the greater part of two squads. They were
from First Platoon, George Company, iyth Infantry. Until
then, demons had not known that any part of the Buffalo
Regiment was within the area. Automatically, he sent the new
men along to stiffen his left flank which had been stopped by
the covered trench. Then a pleasant voice asked, "Will you
please tell me the situation?" demons looked up to see his
brother-in-law, Lieut Walter B. Russell, who at the last ac-
counting was still in the United States, demons said, "Now
what in hell are you doing here?"
Russell was commanding George Company. He explained
that the rest of his force was still toiling up the hackslope,
160 Pork Chop Hill
slowed by the artillery fire. His mission was to "assist demons
in the mop-up" and then withdraw from the hill as soon as
possible. To demons 7 mind, that instruction was a first reve-
lation of the distance separating high command from the real-
ities of his situation. It presupposed that the Chinese were
but barely holding and that King remained a mobile and
combat-worthy force. One assumption was as wrong as the
other. There remained to demons about thirty-five tired men
from King, the ten survivors from Love and twelve derelicts
from Easy who had been freed during the push down the
trench line. Harrold had left the hill, and the Easy men, be-
sides being leaderless, were nursing minor wounds. There was
no leg push in any of these elements. It was doubtful if they
still retained holding power.
Pondering these factors, the kinsmen weighed what should
be done. As demons saw it, the best course was to withdraw
and regroup his people while Russell's men were still ap-
proaching, so that the still solid company would have a clear
field. Russell, being the green hand, deferred to demons,
who, though battle experienced, was brain weary. The dis-
placement and flankward shift under fire, always a danger,
was begun immediately, and proved to be a mistake. Though
demons did not know it, a fresh Chinese company was ar-
riving at the other end of the ridge and closing to contact
more swiftly than Russell's men. When demons' advanced
skirmishers pulled back, thus easing the foreground pressure,
the enemy snipers and grenadiers rushed into the vacuum.
The momentum which might have been gained by Russell's
coming was dissipated before he could get his men into the
Suddenly, the hill was again ablaze. The Chinese artillery
and mortars ranged in and where the earth was not shaking
from heavy metal, bullet fire was pinging off the rocks and
Ml of King's Men 161
cutting the grasses. Re-enforced and resupplied, the Chinese
grenadiers doubled their aggressiveness. These were the con-
ditions in which the maneuver, made to apportion sector re-
sponsibility, took place. The new men were down and breath-
less, their weapons fouled by dew and dust, each seeking to
hold a little patch of ground, before any platoon, any squad
had a chance to see its situation as a whole. Lieutenant Mar-
shall with the ten Love men and Lieutenant Ess with a pla-
toon from George took over the left sector. Russell with the
rest of George moved to the right flank and extended down
the finger. Under Lieutenant O'Hashi, King's men regrouped
and moved to the center, which put them on the high ground
looking to Hasakkol. Man by man and yard by yard, they
continued with the shift until the wanted dispositions were
complete. Thereafter, nothing came of it. A few men were
killed and another score or so wounded. Otherwise, there
was no change. George Company settled into the line, and
for some hours, helped hold it. But it had already burned up
the energy needed to extend the mop-up. The re-enforcement
by both sides had only the effect of getting more bodies into
the meat grinder without changing the tactical balance. The
stagnation of the fight was not less than before. The morning
wore on with both Chinese and Aftiericans acting defensively.
demons and Russell moved into Harrold's old CP. Using
Russell's radio, demons messaged Battalion, "I must have
water, plasma, more medical assistance, flame throwers, litters,
ammunition, several radios/' At 1100, a party of Korean bear-
ers got as far as the chow bunker bringing a load of C-rations
and water. Distribution of these supplies among the men in
the forward foxholes was no longer possible, due to the in-
tensity of the barrage fire on the hill.
At noontime, Lieut James Blake, the battalion 82, entered
the CP. He had a written message from Colonel Davis for
162 Pork Chop Hill
demons. Any of the survivors of Easy and Fox companies
were to be sent to the rear immediately, and George Com-
pany as a whole was to withdraw promptly at 1 500. demons
said to Blake, "Take this message back. Tell them I believe
that the crisis here is not appreciated either by Battalion or
Regiment. I have left but very few men. All are exhausted.
Russell has only fifty-five men left. When they go out, it is
not reasonable to expect that we can hold the hill/' One hour
later, his message was acknowledged by Battalion, but nothing
was said about amending the order.
By 1200, the flame throwers, ammunition and litters which
demons had requested had arrived at the foot of Pork Chop's
rear, carried by eight Korean Service Corps cargadores. But
the barrage-swept crest looked too formidable to these men.
So for safety's sake, they marked time on the low ground
during the hours of early afternoon when their cargo might
still have been of some use to the embattled force at the
summit. Falling 170 yards short of their target, they failed it
The last touch of irony was supplied by Lieut. James Bar-
rows, a division public information officer. Daring the fire
which had stopped the Korean bearers, Barrows entered
demons' CP at 1445, with two staff photographers in tow.
He had come to take pictures of what he thought was a suc-
cessful American action, demons said to him, "Forget the
pictures. I want you to carry a message to Battalion." He wrote
it out: "We must have help or we can't hold the hill/' Bar-
rows started immediately. Within the hour Battalion ac-
knowledged the message. But that was all.
Whether it was an oversight by demons due to fatigue,
or the consequence of a professional training which unduly
emphasizes the virtue of brevity in communications, his
Ml of King's Men 163
messages to the rear had not clearly stated his own losses,
which was the critical point.
Knowing their man, both Battalion and Regiment gave full
weight to his distress calls, accepting it as fact that the force
on Pork Chop was "dead beat," though Colonel Kern was
still not informed that both King and Love had taken exces-
Kern emphasized the physical exhaustion of the force, and
not its depletion, when he called up Division to urge that
King, if not relieved, must be re-enforced. Being still more
remote from the fire fight, Division was even more sanguine.
Besides, Division was concerned with a more complex ques-
tionwhether Pork Chop was ultimately worth the indicated
price in blood. If the hill were yielded, the Communists would
strike next at Hill 547. If it were fought for, Pork Chop might
become another battalion-per-day affair like Triangle Hill
The fight was local but the issue was national. So Division
isked a decision of I Corps, which asked it of Eighth Army,
which asked it of Far East Command. The basic question was
imazingly simple: "Do you really want to hold Pork Chop?"
But while the big wheels debated the answer, the task of
holding devolved on a picket squad of worn-out men. After
bearing Kern, Division said that, for the time being, King
ivould be given no help. It was not a hard-boiled refusal. Divi-
sion simply had to be sure that the fight was in dead earnest
before wasting another company. Maj. Gen. Arthur G. Tru-
3eau and his ADC, Brig. Gen. Derrill M. Daniel, got in a
chopper and flew to Davis' CP to get a clearer view of how
King was faring. They landed at 1500.
At exactly the same hour, taking advantage of a lull in the
:annonading, Lieutenant Russell pulled his George Company
survivors out of the Pork Chop works and led them down the
bill He had lost half of his command in less than seven hours.
164 Pork Chop Hill
While his column was getting out, the six Korean bearers,
heartened by the lull, climbed to the chow bunkers carrying
the flame throwers. It was now too late to use them. Some of
Kuzmick's men tried to lug the throwers forward. They lacked
the strength even to lift them.
There now remained to demons but 25 men, including the
Love survivors under Lieutenant Marshall. The rest of King's
men 18 killed and 71 wounded had all been lost to the
day's fire. It was obviously impossible to continue the tactics
of the morning. The remnant could not be stretched across
the crown of the hill; to attempt it would mean sure death.
demons gathered the men and led them as a tight group to
the highest knob on the left side of Pork diop. After de-
ploying them, he returned to his CP, with his radio man and
one runner. So positioned, neither the group nor its com-
mander was linked physically with any support to rearward.
What earlier had been a rifle company integrated within a
general defense line had become three squads clinging in
isolation to a defensive island, demons stayed in the bunker
to save his radio, his one hold on survival; if help arrived, he
would be in the right place to make the contact. The other
task of keeping the group alive fell mainly to O'Hashi and
Within the perimeter which the group formed on the knob
were three small, partly collapsed bunkers. Eight or nine of
the worst-spent men took shelter under their sandbag walls.
The others moved into nearby shell craters. The holes were
not deep enough for good cover. Using spoons, knives and
bayonets for the work they lacked the strength to wield the
small entrenching tool they tried to widen and deepen them.
The only other activity was an endless cleaning of rifles and
carbines, done with toothbrushes, the standby equipment of
the soldier when nothing else will free his grimed rifle. Kuz-
All of Kings Men 165
mick set the example. The others followed it, though their
response was trancelike. Since early morning they had been
without water. Faces caked, tongues thickened by the dust
shower which plagued the hill, under lashing by the guns
and mortars, they no longer talked to each other. Nor did
they move from their places except when shaken loose by an
exploding shell. From the foreground, an almost constant
bullet fire rained upon the knob. Occasionally, a grenade
came sailing in. Yet they saw not a single human target, and
therefore made no attempt to return fire. In the end that
perhaps mattered very little, since most of them no longer
had sufficient strength to raise weapon to shoulder and aim.
Than this, there is no more moving entry in the record of
King, that young Americans too exhausted to fight may still
obey such group discipline as their enfeebled resources permit.
It was to be their portion for four hours. "We lay there
and took it," said Corporal Bridges. "There was nothing else
to do/' To the few who endured it, the earlier trials of the
day seemed nothing compared with this final test. Hit and
harassed, endlessly cleaning weapons with no valid hope of
again using them, they still held ground. The earth and rock
banks which they had raised above their small craters were
creased and scattered by the bullet storm. The enemy artil-
lery, which had ranged widely over Pork Chop, now concen-
trated against this one small area of defiance. The embank-
ments caved in. The sandbag walls were flattened. Repeatedly,
the men were buried under the dirt shower. Weapons freshly
cleaned were refouled. Again the toothbrushes were plied. In
this way continued the monotonously deadly round. At the
end, fourteen had survived it, sick and shaken but relatively
whole-bodied. Seven were Americans, the others ROKs. All
had repeatedly cleaned weapons. Seven and these were Amer-
166 Pork Chop Hill
leanshad done some digging. Of the fourteen men, only
three had fired so much as one round.
Even had he tried, demons could not have returned to
them. By the time he re-entered his CP, Chinese snipers and
grenadiers had already filtered through to the unguarded
slopes around it, and he was invested from both sides of the
trench before he could make one move to help the com-
pany's situation, demons and his three enlisted men, having
no choice, picked up their rifles and fought to save them-
selves from being overrun.
In this way, more than an hour was lost before he could
get back to his communications. At about 1640, there was a
fleeting respite. He called Colonel Davis on radio and said,
"We have here about twenty men who are still unhit. They
are completely spent. There is no fight left in this company.
If we can't be relieved, we should be withdrawn."
Present with Davis when the message came through was
General Trudeau. It was like a five-alarm warning. Until that
moment, the picture had remained blurred. The informa-
tion had been too fragmentary. Trudeau had realized that
King was being badly punished, but he did not know that
the defense of Pork Chop was at a final strait of desperation.
Now, with the day already gone, he was aware that the hill
could not be held, unless additional troops moved toward it
as rapidly as the night. The question was where to get them
and how many should be sent By this time Pork Chop was
nigh a total ruin. Its shattered works could not avail cover
to more than a few men, and the Chinese artillery would con-
tinue unrelenting so long as its people had a purchase on the
Trudeau flew back to his CP to mull over the problem with
the other generals and with Colonel Kern, already enroute to
the same destination by chopper.
JL O UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED TO LOVE COMPANY DUJONG
the Pork Chop fight, it is necessary to return to the beginning
and follow its experience step by step.
What the men atop the hill saw and heard of its effort had
not been impressive. While the remnant of Easy Company
was awaiting succor, one of Love's platoons had counterat-
tacked and had been knocked back. Then when King Com-
pany entered the fight, it was disappointed in the hope that
the converging movement by the other two rifle platoons
from Love would lighten its work. Finally, only a corporal's
guard of Love men got to the top. These things the men
attacking the bunker line well knew.
But the view from the top was very limited. The men fight-
ing there could not see how the rest of the attack was faring.
Its failures, frustrations and problems were far outside their
informed understanding, as were the trials of any comrade
who happened to fall unseen among the rocks.
Love's luck had not been running in the hour when the
fighting started. The weapons platoon was absent and the
three rifle platoons were alerted and trucked forward, at first
with the idea of back-stopping Hill 347, just in case the Chi-
nese overran Pork Chop and kept coming. Two of the trucks
were wrecked by mortar fire before the company got on loca-
168 Pork Chop Hill
That interrupted the ride of Third Platoon. About the time
its leader, 2nd Lieut. Earle L. Denton, had his men ready to
move again, a staff officer out of Second Battalion (Denton
didn't know the man) arrived and told him he was to march
the platoon to Hill 200 and thereafter "re-enforce Pork Chop
by occupying same." The officer added, "When you get to
Hill 200, you will pick up Fox Company and they will go with
Denton immediately marched on Hill 200, with M/S
Aubrey Norcross bringing up the rear of the column so that
the men wouldn't get lost in the trenches. Despite the pre-
caution, the column got split.
Arrived at the CP on Hill 200, he met several artillery
officers, but found no one who could tell him anything about
the location or movements of Fox Company. Having been
given his mission, and having gained the impression that time
was of the essence if Pork Chop was to be battened down, he
decided to proceed alone. By this chance, and due to Denton's
own misunderstanding of the situation, there fell upon one
platoon the mission which higher headquarters assumed was
being carried out by an adequate force.
From the peak of Hill 200, Denton gazed long and earnestly
at Pork Chop. To his untrained eye, the view seemed not
alarming. The hill was being shelled but the artillery action
was not vigorous. He could hear no small-arms fire and there
was no sign of human activity. So he concluded that his pla-
toon was being committed to strengthen a defense which al-
ready was doing well enough.
Deciding to move via the road which ran from Hill 200 to
Pork Chop, he started immediately. It was an easy, uninter-
rupted march. The platoon got to within 50 yards of the
chow bunker, still in column, without hearing one warning
Love Alone 169
Then from Pork Chop's height, two machine guns opened
fire. Both guns were about 100 yards away. The fire from one
came straight at the column, the other ranged in obliquely, fir-
ing from a bunker roof. The flank gun was right on target. Six
men were cut down, four of them from Sgt. Carlin F. Foot's
squad, all of them shot in the legs.
Still thinking Pork Chop was solidly in American hands,
Denton concluded that his platoon was being waylaid by a
nervous but friendly garrison. Denton yelled, "God damn it,
Foot and Sgt Frank Hippler had received the same im-
pression as Denton. So they joined in the cry, "Cease fire!
Cease fire!" It had effect: the two machine guns became
silent. From somewhere near the gun which was directly
above the column, a voice called out, "Come on up!" Foot
said to Denton, "Say, Lieutenant, does that sound to you like
a GI talking?" The question both startled and annoyed Den-
ton. For another five minutes, he stayed there motionless,
looking upslope and wondering what to do. The men stayed
flat in the drainage ditch off the road.
Finally Denton sang out, "O.K., let's go!" They were up
again and barely starting. Again the two machine guns opened
fire. Pvt. Santiago Alieca got a bullet through the shoulder.
The other men were already flat and seeking cover. Wonder-
ing now how best to withdraw them, making certain they
would stay collected, Denton remembered that on the march-
up the column had passed a tank-cut in the narrow gap be-
tween Hill 200 and Pork Chop. It was the one easily identifi-
able object that he had noted along the route. So Denton
called out to the others, "Let's everybody get back to that
They complied without further urging. Though it was rapid,
it was not a disorderly withdrawal. Some men ran down the
i 7 o Pork Chop Hill
backslope; others crawled down the ditch to defilade. But no
equipment was left behind and the wounded were all helped
from the hill. Yet when six minutes later Denton tried to
reform his platoon at the tank-cut, he counted only sixteen
men. It was a nerve-wrenching discovery. Somewhere along
the road from Hill 200 to Pork Chop, Denton had lost three-
quarters of his force without anyone saying boo, and he had
not the slightest notion how or why it had happened.
There was a personnel carrier idling in the tank-cut. Alieca
and the other casualties were loaded and started rearward.
Then the men fell into argument about what should be done
next Denton was undecided. He felt that he was funking his
mission, but hunch also told him that the mission was a blun-
der, though he couldn't say why. In the circumstances, he
would have liked to talk over the problem with higher au-
thority. But his one radio had been smashed by the machine
gun on top of Pork Chop Hill and he had no telephone. So
for a few minutes Denton listened to the argument.
Hippler said, "We should either go forward or march back
quickly. To stay here is no good This cut is a magnet for
heavy fire. I've seen it come in here."
CpL Robert E. Chambliss said, "Let's get back to where
we were up on Pork Chop, form a line and open fire. Those
are Chink guns. I know them; I can tell by the sound/'
Foot said, "If those are Chink guns, then weVe got no busi-
ness there. They wouldn't be on the rear slope unless they
have the whole hill, and you can't take it away from them
with a couple of squads/'
The argument became more shrill, and more of the men
joined in to call out, "Let's move! Let's get out of here!" Then
Lieut John Nesbitt got up to Denton and explained to him
that the "lost" part of the platoon was still anchored on Hill
Love Alone 171
200. Thereon he decided to withdraw full length and get his
force in hand before making another move.
As the party moved out of the cut, the two machine guns
from atop Pork Chop cracked down. The bursts were just a
few yards short. The men broke into a trot and then picked
up speed. Denton, who is a sprinter, ran forward yelling,
"Hold it! Hold it!" thinking they were right on the verge of
panic flight. The front runners were just approaching a culvert
as he gained the lead and tried to turn them. But it didn't
quite work. Momentum carried them past him. All that saved
them from final disorganization was a Chinese artillery con-
centration. Arriving in salvos of ten shells, spaced not more
than twenty seconds apart, they exploded into the road, not
more than 40 yards ahead of the men. Within the next ten
minutes, approximately 1 50 rounds hit and exploded in their
They had all stopped and hit the dirt at the first salvo all
except Denton. Off on the right of the road, about 30 yards
away, two medium tanks were parked. Denton stood in mid-
road calling to his men, "Get under the tanks! What do you
want to run off for? There's only good men in this platoon.
We got nothing but the best/* They went, and from that
moment forward they loved the guy and would have eaten
from his hand.
Denton hammered on the tanks with his carbine and finally
got one of them to open up. On the tank radio, he tried to
raise Battalion, but the radio wouldn't cut through. He then
asked the tank sergeant to load his twelve men aboard the two
tanks and make the ran to Hill 200. In that way he managed
to stay collected while getting the platoon through the artil-
lery fire. Two of his men were hit by shell fragments during
the short haul.
When he got to the check point and told the company
172 Pork Chop Hill
commander, Lieut. Forrest James Crittenden, what had hap-
pened, he was told to stand by for further orders. Crittenden
then reported to Lieut. Col. John N, Davis that his Third
Platoon had failed in its counterattack, and Davis issued
orders for the strengthened effort which was to be made
jointly by King and Love's other two rifle platoons at dawn.
That brought to Denton his first awareness that his platoon
supposedly had been carrying out a counterattack instead of
executing a more or less routine re-enforcement. No one had
rung the bell and so he had failed to come out of his corner
fighting. Crittenden told Denton to stand by with Third Pla-
toon on Hill 200 and be prepared to advance against Pork
Chop on order. In the meantime, he would try again with his
other two rifle platoons.
After first being routed from their bivouac, the two platoons
had spent their hours marching to the sounds of fire, though
getting approximately nowhere. Almost coincidental with the
ringing of the telephone at 2330, when came the order that
Love Company was to take position on the finger of Hill 347,
and be ready to block, two artillery rounds had struck their
camp and demolished two squad tents. A third round
wounded a BAR man, Pvt. Ben Williams. They were glad
enough to quit that ground and go forward.
For maybe an hour or more, they tarried at the position on
Hill 347. Then they were moved forward to the perimeter of
Hill 200, the mission being the "re-enforcement of First Pla-
toon of Fox Company/' Since no one had explained the
situation to them, that meant very little.
It was after Denton's return from misadventure that the
other two platoons were alerted for their predawn advance to
Pork Chop. Curiously enough, the one lesson which had
come of that brief reconnaissance was wholly lost to the rest
of the company. Denton and the twelve men who had been
Love Alone 173
to Pork Chop's rear slope came back convinced beyond doubt
that the hill was dominated by the Chinese. Denton passed
that word to his superiors. But when First and Second Pla-
toons were told the new mission, they were given no clearer
light on the real situation than Denton had received.
Said Sgt. Horace Ford, "We were told to assemble for a
move to Pork Chop. We were not told we were to make an
Said Sgt. Edward Newton, "My squad was told by Lieu-
tenant Paris that we would march up and re-enforce Pork
Chop. That was all; nothing was said about a fight."
After platoon and squad leaders checked men to make sure
that they were carrying a basic load of ammunition, the march
started. By then, the hill had been lost for more than four
hours, and none but enemy guns was firing from its ramparts.
Denton's report, the messages coming from Harrold and the
lack of steady infantry fire atop Pork Chop all pointed to this
fundamental change in the situation. But if there was due ap-
preciation of it anywhere in the command level, it was still
not communicated to the riflemen who were expected to
redress the balance. They were not steeled for a toe-to-toe
scrimmage with small arms, though there was sufficient re-
minder of danger in the area. As the column slipped away
from Hill 200, thirteen rounds of mortar dropped on and
around it, and Lieutenant Bechtel got his first wound of the
Still, that was not enough to prompt the degree of caution
needed in the approach. Upon deploying, the two platoons
did not take care to stay tied in so that if hit, they could react
together and help each other. Once again committed to an
attack without knowing it, Love got away badly for having
No reconnaissance was attempted. First Platoon started
i 74 Pork Chop Hill
walking up one flange of the finger, advanced to within 40
yards of Pork Chop's top, became confronted by the solidly
staked and unbroken wire barricade, came under grenade fire
from beyond the wire, hesitated and weaved for about three
minutes, then recoiled to the valley.
Later the men said that the grenade shower was "heavy."
But Sgt. Horace Ford counted only eleven grenades. Sergeant
Newton counted thirteen. Three men were lightly wounded.
M/S Edward L. Posey, sensing that the others wavered, gave
the order, "Fall back!" He crawled among the flattened men,
whispering the order to them, just to keep excitement down.
They re-formed in the valley, then moved rightward to an-
other part of the finger where someone had found a small hole
in the concertina. That move widened the gap between First
and Second Platoons.
They got to the hole all right, and as the leading files started
to crawl through it, grenade and submachine-gun fire hit
among them. The gap was commanded by a stout-walled
bunker about 35 yards upslope. Several men could be seen
moving on its roof. The worst of the fire was coming from
out the bunker. A few Love men started firing their rifles.
The enemy silhouettes disappeared. Within the first several
minutes, three more men were wounded by grenades.
Cpl. Joseph R. Munier was for several reasons an extraor-
dinary American soldier. A native of Montreal, he had come
to the United States and enlisted in the Army because a war
was on and he wished to see it. On Pork Chop Hill he was
armed with a BAR and was lying next to Private Williams,
another BAR man, who despite having been wounded by
shellfire earlier in the night, had continued in the action.
Sergeant Posey wiggled on his belly to the two men and
suggested that they try to crawl up to within 15 yards of the
bunker which was giving the line hell and try to kill it with
Love Alone 175
their fire. Munier said, "We'll try but you can't knock down
a bunker with BARs."
Finding a small gap in the concertina, they continued up-
slope. At less than 12 yards* range, Munier sprayed bullets
through the embrasure, not stopping until he had spent all
five clips. Then a potato masher came sailing out of the open-
ing, exploded five yards behind him and wounded him in the
thighs and buttocks. Munier dropped flat and Williams took
his place, firing into the bunker until his BAR, too, ran dry.
Another grenade exploded and one fragment hit Williams in
By that time, Posey had seen enough. He crawled forward
to the two men and said, "I think you better fall back, and I
think it would be better if we all withdrew as far as the base
of the hill." A great light had dawned on Posey: he was at
last convinced that the Chinese were in charge of Pork Chop.
And astounding though it seems, it was not until this inci-
dent occurred that the same light dawned on the others in
Love Company. Ford, Newton, Paris, Lavoie and the men
with them, having started with the wrong idea, had clung to
it tenaciously. Not until the bunker resisted Munier and
Williams at close range did they at last realize that they were
fully engaged by an active enemy. Yet a third BAR man,
Private Patterson, had been hit by a bullet, and three of the
company's ROKs had been wounded by grenades, before
Munier made his sortie.
Posey and the two BAR men slipped about 30 yards to the
leftward, mainly to remove themselves from the bunker's
direct line of fire. In so doing, Williams found a large gap in
the concertina, and while he and Munier held there, Posey
crawled downslope to rally some of the others and lead them
to the opening.
In a few minutes, he was back with the greater part of three
176 Pork Chop Hill
squads. Several Chinese grenadiers had maneuvered down-
slope through the rocks and were waiting just above the gap.
Having emptied their BARs, Williams and Munier couldn't
supply a covering fire. A dozen grenades fell among them as
the men surged through the gap. Sgt Edward Newton was
wounded in back and neck. Pvts. Lindbergh House and John
Swaguer were hit in the face and shoulders. Four or five men
behind them were struck down and left the fight, but these
three tried to keep going.
With Cpl. William Locklear, Ford's assistant, leading, the
rush continued. Locklear ran for the main bunker which
Munier and Williams had attacked and heaved three gre-
nades through the door. The other skirmishers fanned out
to grenade the bunkers on either side of it. Six more Ameri-
cans were hit by grenade frags during this swift and successful
mop-up, including Locklear, who drew a badly shattered left
On his way out, Locklear passed Crittenden, who said to
him, "Get back to 200 and tell Fox Company that I've either
got to have re-enforcements or ammunition; IVe got nothing
with which to fight/' It was hardly an overstatement. The
BARs and machine guns were all dry; half of the carbines were
empty; all grenades had been spent in getting to the first three
bunkers. In the clutch, what saved Love Company for a little
while was the discovery of two cases of grenades in one of the
Newton was still moving with the others but was bleeding
badly. Posey looked Swaguer over and said to Newton, "If
you don't get him to first aid quick, he'll never make it." So
Newton started for Hill 200, staggering downslope under
Swaguer's weight Private Williams, already twice wounded,
stayed in the attack.
The wire, bunkers and trench which Love's First Platoon
Love Alone 177
had overcome was a Pork Chop outwork, three-quarters way
up the finger, but still several hundred feet downslope from
the entrenched crest, though connected with it by commo
trenches. Checking his squad and finding that he had only
two sound men left, both of whom were out of ammunition,
Ford continued upward with Posey and Cpl. Nathan Feather-
From out of a smashed bunker just forward of them, two
Chinese suddenly jumped into the trench and heaved potato
mashers at them, then darted back into the bunker. The blast
drove fragments into Posey's left leg while wounding Ford
and Featherstone in the face. Ford was not even stopped, so
light were his wounds. He rushed the bunker, only to find
that the two Chinese had vanished into a tunnel leading from
its floor. Within the bunker he found a light machine gun
and several boxes of ammunition. After advancing the gun
about 50 yards upslope, he put Pvt Columbus Jackson on it
Firing at the crest of Pork Chop, and toward the midsec-
tion of its works, Jackson kept the gun going until his am-
munition was spent. His and Ford's account of how the gun
was placed and aimed indicates that the fire was bearing
against the face of the King Company attack at just about
the time demons' men felt they were making headway
against the Chinese. If it was a mistake by Love, it was still
pardonable. Besides not knowing that the Chinese held the
hill, the men had not been informed that King Company
would be attacking the rear slope at the same time and there
would be a risk of crossed fires.
Jackson's fire noticeably quieted the racket atop the hill
Misreading that sign, Ford thought it meant that the enemy
was being scared off and Love was gaining control He yelled
to Jackson, "Boy, we're getting there/'
But just as happened with King atop the hill, the moment
178 Pork Chop Hill
of highest hope was dashed by the sudden dropping of the
supporting artillery. One salvo exploded around the gun,
putting a shard through Ford's arm and another through
Jackson's helmet; it broke through the liner without even
graving his scalp.
Another salvo landed in the commo trench among fourteen
members of Love, getting all of them, including Private Wil-
liams; it was his third hit in one night's action. Posey was
wounded again. Lieutenant Bechtel was hit for the second
Bechtel crawled up to Williams and said, "We got to stop
that fire. Go to the rear of the hill. See if King Company has
arrived there yet Tell them we don't have ten able-bodied
men left Tell them to come on and help us. And tell them
to raise the artillery." The message is eloquent of the degree
of misunderstanding in both flanks of this "co-ordinated"
attack, and the failure in either to get any feeling of support
from the other.
Williams started on his mission. Partway around the hill,
he ran into three parked medium tanks. He asked the sergeant
to message that the artillery should lift fire. While he was
talking, two more rounds hit among the tanks, but Williams
ducked under the steel hull in time. He continued his walk,
and on getting to the road which winds down Pork Chop's
rear slope, saw some of King's wounded come out of the
works and start toward Hill 200. This was Williams' first
knowledge that the other company was fighting and he re-
turned to the finger, intending to tell Bechtel.
In Love's sector, meanwhile, there had been no slackening
of the artillery storm. Whether the initial barrage had come
from American guns (as the men thought) and this mistaken
fire had merged quickly into an enemy cannonading of awe-
some power and purpose, there was no real way of knowing.
Love Alone 179
The men who survived the deluge were conscious only that
there had been no break in it. For the better part of one hour
it descended on them, breaking eighteen rounds per minute
into the small acre where First Platoon's remnant was still
clinging to life. The men could do no more: to advance, or
even to think of taking any fighting action had become im-
Right after the first salvo broke, Corporal Munier, the
Canadian, found himself in a ruined bunker with Lieutenants
Paris and Summers, the medic, SFC James Cooper, and four
other wounded men whom he did not know. Paris had been
hit at the wire by grenades, and an artillery slug had gone
through his shoulder. Munier was working on Paris and trying
to stanch the blood flow with his first-aid pack and handker-
More shells exploded in the trench outside. A voice
screamed, "Help me! Help me! I can't move/' Munier started
to go. Sergeant Cooper waved him off, and disappeared
through the door. Munier continued the bandaging. More
rounds came in, and then a cry from Cooper, "Please come
help me!" Again, Munier started to go. Summers stopped
him, saying, "No, your job is to stay here and help Paris/' As
Summers stepped from the door, a shell exploded behind
him and one fragment cut through the base of his spine.
Munier went out and pulled all three men into the bunker.
Cooper was not too badly hurt; he quickly joined Munier in
applying first aid to the others. Summers died in about thirty
minutes; later, another shell broke through the bunker and
By these stages was completed the wrecking of First Pla-
toon. Of its forty-five men, only five were in the group of
twelve which later that morning, under the leading of Lieu-
tenant Marshall, gained the top of Pork Chop and joined the
i8o Pork Chop Hill
mop-up effort by King Company. One of them was Munier.
He was still fighting at 1030 on the following day when a
strange lieutenant approached him and said, "You don't be-
long here. Love Company has left the Ml."
The events leading up to the disintegration of Second Pla-
toon are less well-known because still fewer of its able-bodied
men stayed with the fight until Pork Chop's main trench
was gained and managed to survive the ordeal of the after-
Second Platoon jumped off on the left side of the finger,
supposedly abreast of First Platoon's line, which harassed by
its own problems, could not stretch far enough to join hands
with Second's flank. The ascent was much steeper and rockier
along Second's path, and therefore it did not keep pace. Half-
way up the hill, it came onto a broad saddle, and paused there
to get the squads reorganized. No fire had yet come against
it during the climb.
That was when the platoon ground was swept by the can-
nonading which had culminated First Platoon's misfortunes.
Approximately sixty shells exploded among and around the
squads during the next fifty minutes. The men jumped for
rock cover, when they could, and, for the most part, stayed
there, taking it The effect was to demoralize and disunify
them almost wholly before they had moved to close grips
with the Chinese. Not many were hit by the fire; the agreed-
upon number is at most six or seven. But other men, hearing
no orders and shocked by the experience, drifted away from
the slope, seeking the rear. When at last the cannonading
slackened, the platoon stood at less than half-strength.
By then, SFC Gilbert Dobak, the platoon sergeant, was in
command. He said to Sgt Joseph Lavoie, "We got to move
out of here." They started upward, and some of the others
arose and followed. When they got to the wire barricade, and
182 Pork Chop Hill
started through a gap which had been cut by the artillery fire,
grenade and burp-gun fire from behind the barricade met
them. The men went flat, and a few of them, including Dobak
and Lavoie, replied with grenades and carbines. Seven more
men were hit by the enemy fire before resistance tapered off.
A few others weakened and bugged out.
When the climb was resumed, only eleven men followed
Dobak through the barrier. He was hit by submachine-gun
fire before he got to the commo trench. SgL George Linker
took charge. He was still present when what was left of the
two platoons entered King Company's lines. From beginning
to end, the attack had lacked any semblance of military or-
ganization. That in the end the efforts of a few willing, un-
helped men partially redeemed it was due only to individual
dauntlessness. They stayed on Pork Chop until midafternoon,
but their force had been spent in the uphill fight, and they
did little to help demons.
Lieutenant Denton was still on Hill 200, with his own sur-
vivors, the stragglers from the other two rifle platoons and the
duty-fit men of weapons platoon. At about the time the Love
squad on Pork Chop was preparing to withdraw, Colonel
Davis called on Denton to tell him that he was now com-
manding Love Company and was expected to take it forward
and defend Pork Chop as promptly as he could get the com-
pany armed. *
The "company" was resting on the reverse slope of 200.
Denton walked down and counted noses. Of the 187 men
which Love had mustered the prior midnight, there were now
left 56. Denton formed them as a three-platoon company,
making riflemen of his weapons people, and then stood by
while ammunition this time with double the load of the
night before was issued.
Two hours later they were on the road, and by 1630, the
Love Alone 183
company had moved up to and reassembled at the chow
bunker without losing a man. But the approach had a touch
of genius. To beat the artillery and mortar fire, Denton had
advanced his unit from Hill 200 one man at a time, with a
two-minute interval separating files at the point of departure.
That cost him an hour but he figured it was worth it. He ex-
plained his purpose to the men and he felt gratified that they
moved right along despite their extraordinary extension.
Denton pushed on to the CP and found demons immedi-
ately. Small-arms fire crackled up and down the trench but
for the moment demons' fire was keeping the snipers back
from his own vicinity.
demons said to Denton, "I've got only sixteen men on this
hill. I can't tell you how they're deployed at this moment. I
haven't had time to look/' The figure was approximately right,
though demons was guessing at it.
It was agreed that Denton had best try to set up his men in
a limited perimeter facing the forward slope of the hill with
two of his platoons in line forming the front and the third
platoon filling in the shrunken circle by covering the rear.
This arrangement would still leave three-fourths of Pork
Chop's crown, including the CP area, outside the defensive
circle, but in the circumstances there was no more promising
Before Denton's deployment was more than half-complete,
his chosen sector was hit by an artillery concentration and he
lost six men to the fire. The others took it without jar; they
were now acting heads up and Denton felt confident that they
would stay steady against whatever came. He kept his war cry
of the prior evening, changing only one word, "Nobody but
good men in this company! Nothing but the best!" They
heard him say it over and over and they believed him.
Nor did it upset Denton when he discovered that in his
184 Pork Chop Hill
rush, he had forgotten his communications. He sent a run-
ner back for some AWPR-6s, and before any further damage
was done the company, the man had gone through fire and
returned with two of them. The incident was typical of Love's
closing round, after its several bad starts. For another six
hours, it would continue to travel the road of blood and fire.
Before sunup, more of its men would die, and others would
be wounded. But at long last, the feeling of success was com-
ing, attended by that special magnetism which flows from
an inspired spirit. There was a breeziness about young Den-
ton, a gentleness and a manliness which bound others to him.
The kid was proud to be commanding his fellow Americans
and he was not afraid to let them know it.
After the harsh greeting by the Chinese artillery when they
settled in, Denton's men knew several hours of relative quiet
They kept low because of the thickening sniper fire over their
area, but except for an occasional mortar shell, there was no
heavy pounding of the hill. The King men under Kuzmick
and the detachment at the CP also shared this partial respite.
With the darkest hours approaching, it seemed the Chinese
were withholding themselves before a last great effort. Yet
there was no great safety in this quiet Any movement on the
hill was swiftly punished. The badly wounded could not be
evacuated. Lieutenant O'Hashi, leaving his position on the
crest to talk to demons, was directly hit by a potato masher
as he entered the CP door. The blow shattered his right
During these same hours, decision was being reached at the
higher levels. General Trudeau at Division talked to Maj.
Gen. Bruce Cooper Clarke at I Corps, asking and getting as-
surance that if he spent more men to regain Pork Chop, it
would not later be yielded. Once that point was cleared up,
the Second Battalion of the iyth Regiment was attached to
Love Alone 185
the 3ist Regiment. Since George Company of the lyth had
already been chewed up during the afternoon fight, that gave
Colonel Kern two rifle companies with which to win his fight
The lyth's First Battalion was also moved to the Pork Chop
area but not put under Kern.
Kern immediately called Captain King of Fox Company
(the time was 1800) and told him to move on Pork Chop
and relieve demons' force as promptly as he could make
ready. He decided to withhold Easy Company, awaiting proof
of need, just as Division had decided that it would keep a
string on lyth's First Battalion up to the moment when the
course of the fight proved that Kern could not win without
using it. Now that everything else along the Division front
had cooled, all higher headquarters could concentrate on the
one neat problem of getting the maximum result at Pork
Chop while risking the minimum loss. The results show how
narrow is the dividing line between practical economy and
the wastage which comes of sending too few men.
Captain King lost some hours in getting Fox Company on
the road. He moved after he was at last satisfied that the men
were as well equipped and ready as the circumstances per-
mitted. Still, in the end the delay probably cost Fox Company
an excessive price.
Fox's men started arriving on the hill at 2130. One platoon
was deployed into the Pork Chop trenches. Several of the
officers pushed forward to talk to Denton and demons. Cap-
tain King, moving with the main body of the company, was
still some distance down the rear slope. His radio had been
jammed by the enemy as he began the approach, and he
could get no idea of how his lead platoon was faring, nor could
he talk to the commanders he was supposed to contact,
At the same time, there was a sharp build-up of fire against
the Love Company front and Denton could see a body of
186 Pork Chop Hill
Chinese crossing the valley from Hasakkol. On radio, he
called on the artillery to fire "Flash Pork Chop" which would
interdict the forward slope with killing fire. The barrage
dropped quickly and it scattered the Chinese attack.
Whether it was cause and effect, the Chinese loosed the
heaviest concentration of artillery and mortar fire against Pork
Chop that had yet hit the hill. (Denton believed that an en-
emy radio man hiding in one of the bunkers had called for the
TOT.) It dropped mainly on the trenches where Fox's lead
squads were deploying and on the rear slope where the two
platoons were still toiling upward. Before having any chance
to engage, Fox Company lost nineteen men; and as the steel
continued to rain down 7 the entrenched men huddled and
the columns broke and scattered. Such was the state of disor-
ganization, that it took Fox another three hours to get the
greater part of its force set on the hill, and the platoons never
did get satisfactorily tied in to one another.
So once again in the Pork Chop duel, the massing of ar-
tillery erased the attempt to gain advantage through infantry
numbers. The body blows against Fox sapped its energy, leav-
ing it in no better state than the weary forces it had come to
For these reasons, as well as because of the confusion at
the start, the relief was long protracted, clumsy and hazard-
filled. Captain King asked Denton to assist him with platoon
guides, though Denton didn't know the hill and Fox wasn't
fitting into Love's positions. The Fox men forward were al-
ready so tightly bunched that they had to be pried apart
physically to execute the deployment. As Denton said of it,
"At every point the relief was sticky and it was almost im-
possible to keep the men from bunching or persuade them
that they were safer if they spread out; the conditions of the
fight made the argument seem unreasonable." Some of the
Love Alone 187
Fox men were still in shock from the hard opening blow dealt
by the enemy artillery and their hysterical shouting and
screaming muffled the effort to give them direction.
There was also the acute problem of attending the casual-
ties, giving them first aid and arranging a base for their ulti-
mate evacuation from Pork Chop. There being no letup in
the barrage fire, the problem kept growing. At one stage, Den-
ton came upon five wounded Fox men piled up in the trench.
One man had lost a leg. Denton carried the five to the CP,
then returned to his rounds. By then it was wearing on to-
ward midnight Both he and demons were growing increas-
ingly concerned about getting their own fractions off the
hill and passing full responsibility to Captain King.
The question of what to do about lights arose at this point
in the relief. Under demons and Denton, the defense had
been making steady use of illuminating shell over the top of
Pork Chop and the forward slopes which served the Chinese
approach. They reasoned that since their own men were hold-
ing tight to the foxholes and their main danger came of
prowlers who were already on the hill, the lighting of the hill
was all in their favor. But when came time for the withdrawal,
demons wanted to turn the lights off so that his men, in
moving, would not be silhouetted. Captain King felt it not
less important that the lights should be kept on to steady his
own garrison. In the end, they compromised, continuing the
illuminating of the forward 'slope while keeping the rest of
the hill dark.
As soon as that confusion had been cleared away and Den-
ton had examined the wounded and done what he could for
them, he started sending his own men off the hill, bound for
Hill 200, once again having them monitored out at two-min-
ute intervals singly to cheat the enemy artillery.
Then he returned to Clemens* CP, running a gauntlet of
i88 Pork Chop Hill
fire his last 20 yards to get there. Enemy grenadiers had
crowded in and were throwing at the door. He and demons
stood just inside, ready to field and return anything hot that
came through. On the bunker roof just above their heads, they
could hear two Chinese moving a light machine gun into
position. The gun opened fire. Corporal Chambliss of Love
Company, who had decided to stay with Denton, had been
waiting for that moment. Disregarding the grenadiers, he
jumped into the trench and sprayed upward with his BAR,
shooting both gunners off the roof.
These things happened right around midnight. Besides
Chambliss, Newton, Ford, Lavoie, Munier and a hard-boiled,
ig-year-old runt from Brooklyn, Pfc. John L. Baron, had
stayed with their commander. Baron was a case; the boy
talked a blue streak of profane obscenity and thus far in the
fight had done little else. Also in the bunker with Denton
were demons, Captain King of Fox Company, demons*
two enlisted helpers, Sgt. Richard Falk and five (unidentified)
wounded men. Though the casualties had been stowed in the
bunks, it was rather crowded.
Ready to leave, demons, Denton and their men had been
awaiting a respite in the close siege of the CP. Hence when
Chambliss killed the machine gun on the roof, as many of the
others as were weaponed jumped through the door into the
open and sprayed fire over the embankments and along the
trench. That lasted for five minutes and temporarily cooled
demons and his men started rearward. Denton and his
few retainers were about to follow when Captain King said to
him, "I don't know this position at all. Could you stay awhile
and help me?" So Denton stuck it and his small "palace
guard" stayed with him.
Clemons had been gone one and one-half hours when the
Love Alone 189
fight flared. There were sounds of movement from the roof
as of men tearing at the sandbags. Through the top of the
CP door sailed three grenades, as if a leaning man had made
the toss from above. Two blew off harmlessly. The third gre-
nade exploded metal into one of the American wounded.
Then a Chinese came through the door triggering a sub-
machine gun. Denton was shot through the leg and hand.
Other bullets hit Captain King and one of his men, Sergeant
Robertson. Shooting from the floor. Baron cut down the
gunner with one burst from his carbine, yelling, "Take that,
Again the Chinese on the roof grenaded through the door-
way, and in the same instant, a second burp gunner aimed his
weapon through the embrasure. The grenade exploded under
the bunk of a wounded man who had already lost a leg. Cham-
bliss, Newton and Ford blasted toward the embrasure and
killed the Communist gunner before he could fire. Once more,
Baron jumped into the open trench and, spinning, fired at the
roof. The grenadier fell and his feet still dangled above the
CP door in the morning.
He would have been dead in three more seconds anyway.
As Baron rebounded into the bunker, three i22-mm artillery
rounds landed in salvo, two crushing in one corner of the
roof, the other exploding into the bunker's sandbag base and
caving one side of it. One round cut a yard-wide hole in the
ceiling and showered fragments over the bunks holding the
Hit again, they screamed and sobbed hysterically*
Denton cried, "Shut up! I don't want any cry babies in
here. Nobody but good men in my company!"
That silenced them immediately.
Baron shouted, "Jesus Christ, this is worse than Custer's
190 Pork Chop Hill
Asked Denton, "Were you there, too?"
"No/' yelled the kid, "but I've read about it."
Denton's radio was still working. He had already been in
touch with two Quad-5os which had parked halfway down the
finger waiting for the moment when they might assist the
infantry fight. It flashed over his mind that if the eight .50
machine guns could put a grazing fire over the bunker roof,
the Chinese could be kept from grenading through the hole
blown by the artillery.
Denton called the Quads, "Can you give it to me now-
all the fire that you've got- put it right over the CP roof?"
Came the answer, "Which roof, Lieutenant? From where
we sit all of the bunkers look alike." And it was too true, as
He dropped the instrument, grabbed a grenade and wired a
flare to it, then looked for a willing hand. Again it was Baron
who volunteered to go into the trench and pitch the impro-
vised light on the roof to mark the target for the Quads. He
went, grenade in one hand, carbine in the other. As he made
the upward toss, a Chinese burp gunner, ten yards away,
opened fire. The burst cut three buttons from Baron's jacket
without breaking the skin. Yelling, "You son-of-a-
bitch!" he whirled with his carbine and emptied a magazine
into the man.
With the light came the deluge. The Chinese correctly read
it as a signal for help in some form. Earlier, their attack upon
the bunker was a random effort, the unorganized forays of a
few determined individuals. Now, as if on order, they pressed
on it in large numbers, coming from all sides, grenadiers
throwing and machine gunners firing as they ran screaming
toward the central target
The men inside the bunker knew now that they were
beaten* The noise was overpowering. No one moved toward
Love Alone 191
the trench. Denton did not try to form them for the last
Baron had walked over to the man with the missing leg.
He had seemed to be lapsing into deep sleep. "I watched
him/' said Baron, "hoping he would make it; it kept my mind
off things." Suddenly the man stirred and propped on his
elbow, crying, "Save the ammo! For Christ' s sakes save the
ammo! Don't waste another bullet!"
Sergeant Falk spoke, "Nothing can help us now but prayer.
That's what I've always heard about spots like this."
Denton said, "Well, Falk, if you can pray, go ahead."
Falk started, "Our Father who is in heaven forgivefor-
give us our debtors Oh hell, Lieutenant, I don't know it, I
just don't know it"
During the moments of this fervent supplication, reverent
in spirit if not in language, they were all silent. (Later, they
quoted Falk's prayer verbatim as if it were etched in the
memory.) Then as Falk said the last words, outside the bunker
there was silence also, broken only by the crackling of rifle
fire at some distance. Gone was the oppressive rattle of the
burp guns and the fury of the oncoming grenadiers. The storm
ended as suddenly as it had arisen.
Easy Company of the ijth Regiment had arrived on Pork
Chop. Under the impact of Easy Company's advance, the
Chinese resistance for the moment was diverted and almost
stunned to silence. Some of the enemy, who still saw a road
of escape down the northern fingers, fled toward the valley.
Others, becoming trapped between the advancing skirmish
line and the debris, died fighting. The greater number simply
crawled back into the woodwork, letting Easy Company have
the field temporarily, while saving their shot and storing their
strength until the moment when more comrades would reach
the hilL This was the typical, well-seasoned reaction. In two
192 Pork Chop Hill
years of trench warfare, the Red Chinese soldier had become
like Brother Fox. Any part of earth was his covert and he had
learned to bide his time.
Colonel Kern had heard about the difficulties of the relief
and Fox Company's early ordeal. About one hour before mid-
night, reckoning that Pork Chop was again slipping from his
fingers, he called General Trudeau and said that he was com-
mitting Easy Company immediately. Trudeau agreed with
the decision, saying, "If weVe got to counterattack again, lay
it on before first light." To double the insurance, Trudeau at
the same time released the lyth's First Battalion to Kern.
Within five minutes of its authorization, the attack was un-
Given a task to do, Easy Company solved it with a new
maneuver. The direction of its movement, rather than the
power of its small arms, made the decisive difference. Instead
of attacking obliquely from Hill 200 via the supply road and
up the rear slope of Pork Chop, as the other companies had
done, Easy risked a plan which carried it out and around the
hot corner. From the cut between the two hills, Easy marched
forward into enemy country and, from a line several hundred
yards beyond the American front, attacked directly up the
face of Pork Chop, its back turned on enemy-held Pokkae as
it jumped off. Had the Red Chinese been trying to re-enforce
Pork Chop at that moment, or had they suddenly shifted
their artillery concentrations from the rear to the east slope
of Pork Chop, Easy might have been killed before it could
start. But the boldness which prompted the stroke earned
its due reward. The local surprise was complete. No fire in-
terrupted the charge. An approach designed to cheat the artil-
lery also had the effect of boxing in the enemy infantry.
The plan was the inspiration of Easy's young commander,
Lieut Gorman Smith. When his battalion first moved up,
When Easy Company counterattacked Pork Chop from in front, the
hill mass was enemy-held except for the two encircled areas.
Smith noticed that the back slope of Pork Chop and the val-
ley between it and Hill 347 were directly under the eye of
the Red OPs on Old Baldy. He said to his commander, Lieu-
tenant Colonel Tully, "If I have to re-enforce that ridge, I
want permission to move through the front door/' Smith was
so certain that this was the right way to do it that he schooled
his company on the approach 24 hours before he drew the
When the order carne, no additional instructions had to be
given. Every man knew the reason for the unorthodox march;
all had been briefed on the route. They started immediately.
While Easy Company worked its way along the front of
Hill 200, Smith's forward observer, Lieutenant Clark, laid a
covering barrage in the valley east of Pork Chop about 200
yards beyond the assault column. The extra novelty in this
protective move was that it risked calling attention to what
was being done. The barrage was maintained as Easy's line
charged up Pork Chop's east-running finger. Smith's main
194 Pork Chop Hill
safeguard against head-on collision with a mobile enemy force,
Clark's fires helped Easy reach Pork Chop's crest without
losing a man or ducking a hostile round.
But Gorman Smith felt no illusions about his success. He
said, "Our route and our plan were proved good only because
they worked; had we not made it, had we become trapped, I
feel sure I would have been called a three-cornered fool for
going that far forward of my own main line to attack Pork
Be that as it may, of Smith's bold thinking came the ex-
traordinary speed of Easy's assault to the crest. For the em-
battled group within the Pork Chop CP, the minutes thus
saved by one man's intuition and hard work were as decisive
as a last-minute reprieve to the condemned.
To Denton and his assistants, the fact of deliverance was
at first unbelievable. Once again the irrepressible Private
Baron jumped into the trench to see what was happening.
His first impressions are given in his own words, "There's a
ROK soldier going by me, firing a BAR, going to town. Jeez,
can that guy use a weapon! Leave him alone and he'll go
clean to China. Hey, and there's a hot shot of a little kid, just
a small punk, hasn't even got a man's voice yet, screams like
a girl, but he's all over the place, doesn't seem to know how
to turn that carbine off. Jeez, what a guy, the little bastard's
a one-man army."
Easy's assault was the pivotal event in the battle. While it
determined the outcome, it did not immediately end the
fighting. Thereafter the Communists challenged again and
again but the advantage stayed with the Americans. Their grip
was not again loosened until three months later when they
gave Pork Chop away feeling that it was no longer worth the
price of a squad or a man.
By 0250 Easy Company was deployed fully over the wrecked
Love Alone 195
battlements and Colonel Kern was hearing the report that
"Pork Chop is under full control/' Smith knew, when he
said these words, that they were more comforting than ac-
curate. It was an unprecedented situation and he was at a loss
to describe it. The position was "secure" in the sense that for
the time being there was no fighting and at all points Smith's
men were temporarily in control of the surface. But under
the surface nothing was yet secure. Scores of armed and able
Red Chinese still infested the ruins and would come fighting
from the refuse heaps and smashed bunkers after a breathing
spell. Despite the deceptive quiet, custody was still divided.
At 0320, another Chinese counterattack came via the north-
ern finger and promptly the Red snipers on Pork Chop
emerged from their holes and resumed fighting. So began the
blood bath of Easy Company. At 0429 still another company
of Chinese climbed Brinson Finger on Pork Chop's left flank,
gained the height and dug in.
On getting that message, Colonel Kern read it as a five-
alarm warning. Calling General Trudeau, he said he thought
it time to commit the additional battalion of the iyth Regi-
ment. Trudeau replied, "No, we're chewing up one battalion
a day. We can't keep it up. Send just one company. Then
withdraw the extra company the moment we get the position
So as the second dawn came, Able Company of the iyth
went to the fight. As Trudeau had hoped, its weight was suffi-
cient unto the end. The struggle lasted all day, its fury un-
abated. Fox and Easy were punished hardly less than the
early garrisons. Abie's strength was still needed to stiffen their
depleted ranks when that night, after sunset, the enemy gave
over, Pork Chop became tranquil, the smoke blew away and
men could see the stars once more.
Denton and his crew of diehards had stayed the fight until
196 Pork Chop Hill
midafternoon. Some of them had dozed for a few minutes
after Easy gained the hill A bit refreshed when morning
came, they discovered that the Chinese had systematically
booby-trapped the CP area during the night. So as a gesture
of hospitality to the new tenants, they got the house clean
again before they left.
When Pork Chop cooled, the battle ended. For the troops
who stood guard along the ridges to rear of Pork Chop,
Arsenal and Dale, it had been a mildly unpleasant 48 hours,
made so by the persistence of the Chinese artillery. But save
for that small pinch of danger in the air, and the molten
downpour which cost a few men their lives and many more
their sleep, they were hardly more than nonengaged onlookers.
The battle of Pork Chop was an artillery duel. The American
guns won it The relatively few riflemen who struggled to hold
the outposts, doing it with their flesh when their weapons
would no longer work, only validated the guns' claim on
A minor affair as to infantry numbers, it was impressive in
weight of metal Nine artillery battalions were kept operat-
ing under the hand of Brig. Gen. Andrew P. O'Meara, due
to the presence in yth Division's neighborhood of 2nd Divi-
sion's organic artillery.
During the first 24 hours the guns fired 37,655 rounds in
defense of Arsenal, Dale and Pork Chop. The proportions
were 9,823 rounds fired by the heavies and 27,832 by the light
howitzers. On the second day after Arsenal and Dale had been
.saved and only Pork Chop was in jeopardy, the supporting
fire built up to 77,349 rounds total.
Never at Verdun were guns worked at any such rate as this.
The battle of Kwajalein, our most intense shoot during
World War II, was still a lesser thing when measured in terms
Love Alone 197
of artillery expenditure per hour, weight of metal against yards
of earth and the grand output of the guns. For this at least
the operation deserves a place in history. It set the all-time
mark for artillery effort.
Pork Chop when the fight was over was as clean picked
as Old Baldy. And its cratered slopes will not soon bloom
again, for they are too well planted with rusty shards and
empty tins and bones.
Book 2 The Patrols
Into the Alligator's Jaws
JL HEY WENT SINGLE FILE, WITH THE COLUMN OF TWENTY-
one men strung out over approximately 65 yards of trail space.
This was their normal way of going when operating condi-
tions, by their standards, seemed reasonably good.
When fog, rain or dark cut the horizon to nothing, with
consequent risk that the column might split through some
follower taking the wrong path at a trail fork, it was their
custom to lock hands from front to rear. Then, in the manner
of a daisy chain, they would advance into enemy country.
This practice, which western troops would be disposed to
scorn as being beneath dignity, they accepted gladly as an
extra safeguard against danger. When close to the enemy,
they linked themselves with wire to signal what came.
Americans thought the night of 28 April formidably dark.
There was no thickening of the atmosphere at ground level,
but a heavy cloud wrack had blacked out the stars. Still, as
the Ethiopian column began dogtrotting downtrail, 2nd Lieut
Wongele Costa could see as far as the back of the fourth man.
That seemed adequate for the mission and he saw no reason
to contract the column or restrict its movement.
The ridges which bound the Yokkokchon Valley are ex-
ceptionally rugged and deeply eroded. From Second Com-
pany's home on the big ridge to the patrol's rendezvous at the
extreme end of the forked, low-lying ridge called the Allig^-
202 Pork Chop Hill
tor's Jaws the distance was 2,000 yards air line. But the trail
cut obliquely across country, dipping into three draws and
rising steeply over as many sprangling ridge fingers. The
actual walk to the object approximately doubled the air dis-
It is a matter of record that at 2028 hours, Wongele Costa
reported by radio that he had arrived at the appointed ground
on the tip of the Alligator's Jaws and his men had already set
up their weapons and were ready to fight. He also said, "These
are the first words said by anyone since the start." The ad-
vance had been without incident and is noteworthy only be-
cause of its express-like speed. We had witnessed the patrol
depart the company lines at exactly 2000. In less than a half-
hour, in dark and over formidably rough country, they had
progressed as far as average infantry can go in sixty minutes.
They had come to a position which, so far as terrain features
were concerned, was almost identical with the ground which
brought disaster to a patrol from Charley Company, iyth
Regiment, several days later.
Where they had decided to rig their intended deadfall, the
upper end of the Alligator's Jaws tapered down to the valley
floor. An irrigation ditch looped around this extreme finger-
like projection of the ridge. Atop the finger, approximately
125 yards from the ditch, and rising not more than 30 feet
above the valley floor, was a last knob, shaped like a camel's
hump, with space enough to seat at least half the patrol.
Here were the same simple terrain features which the
Charley patrol tried to exploit toward rigging a secure am-
bush. The knob obviously should be manned since it domi-
nated the trails around the base of the hill along which the
Chinese patrols were likely to move after midnight. But a
ditch is a dilemma in night operations. Used defensively for
cover, it is quite satisfactory, provided one finds the right spot
Into the Alligators Jaws 203
and the enemy does not Otherwise, the consequence may be
a dreadful enfilade. There is no final answer to any of the
most acute problems in minor tactics. Time and luck are the
chief handmaidens of sound decision. Take the situation of an
infantry company defending a strategically important bridge.
No rule in the book helps the commander to determine the
moment when it is better to destroy the bridge than seek to
save it. As for a ditch in night fighting, it may be either a life-
saver or a deathtrap.
In deciding to base on the ditch at the Alligator's Jaws and
use its walls to the fullest, Lieut. Wongele Costa took on the
same setting that flummoxed the Charley patrol, then or-
ganized his ground according to an exactly opposite pattern.
His assault group was put on the high ground. Ten men
were put on the knob, nine armed with Mis, one with a car-
bine. All carried four grenades apiece. Other than arms, they
carried one radio, a sound power phone, one red flare to sig-
nal for the arranged fires, one green flare to request help from
the main line and one amber star cluster to message that they
Each flare was handled by a different man: he would not
fire it except on order from the patrol leader. It was an extra
precaution taken by the Ethiopians while on patrol but not
observed by our own. troops. They considered themselves too
weak in radio technicians and therefore put greater reliance
on old-fashioned signals.
Cpl. Raffi Degene was left in charge of the assault group.
They sought rock cover and did not dig in.
Wongele Costa then led the support party to the ditch, a
dirt-banked structure raised a foot or so above the flat con-
fronting it. The ditch turned sharply at the point where he
established the force. There were but seven men to be de-
ployed. The weapons available to hold the ditch were three
204 P r k ch P
Mis, two BARs, two carbines and forty hand grenades. He
split his force in two wings, so that three men faced north on
the right of the turn and four men faced west to left of it.
In so doing, his thinking was that the two flanks would be
mutually supporting along the ditch, if either got hit. The
chance of enfilade had been reduced. The approaches to the
hill were covered from two directions.
He did not calculate, however, that the group on the low
ground was more likely to figure in an initial interception than
the men on the heights. No trail led directly to the ditch posi-
tion, though several paths skirted it and merged where the
ditch rounded the finger end just north of the assault position.
Hence as Wongele Costa envisaged the main possibilities of
his ambush, the Chinese might start climbing the Alligator's
Jaws, become routed by the assault group, and in flight to
their own country, be taken by flanking fire from the support.
That was why he put both BARs in the ditch. He had been
ordered to take prisoners if possible. Because of the low visi-
bility, he saw little chance of doing it unless the enemy virtu-
ally stumbled over his men.
One BAR man, Cpl. Tiggu Waldetekle, was left in direct
charge of the support. Taking along his runner and the two
aid men, the leader then moved upslope to a point halfway
between assault and support. He was connected with both
groups by phone and with higher levels by phone and radio.
His preparations complete, he waited.
Until exactly 0300, the hill was absolutely quiet. Wongele
Costa had just looked at his watch. His men had been on posi-
tion six hours and 32 minutes. During that time, the only
sounds he had heard were his own voice making the hourly
report by radio to the company: "Everything negative/* But
he knew that the men were awake and watchful. Cpls. Degene
and Waldetekle had seen to that. At fifteen-minute intervals,
Into the Alligators Jaws
The patrol was split, half of it deploying into a ditch^ the other half
holding the high ground.
each junior leader made his rounds, crawling from man to
man. He pressed the man's hand. The man pressed twice in
response. It was their way of assuring an alerted unity.
Both corporals had just crawled to his position and com-
pleted their hand check. Wongele Costa had called the com-
pany and his two assistants were already back with their men.
As WaldeteHe slid back into his position with the support
group, he saw the men on the left, pointing vigorously out
into the enveloping darkness with their rifles. It was the sig-
nal that they detected enemy movement. He moved to them.
Then he could see a figure in clear silhouette standing not
more than 20 yards beyond the ditch.
Waldetekle backtracked along the ditch, then crawled again
to Wongele Costa, saying nothing, but pointing with his rifle
206 Pork Chop Hill
as his men had done. The lieutenant sent Private Tilahullnin-
guse crawling uphill to give the same signal to Degene and his
men. The whole alert had been carried out soundlessly. All
weapons were now pointed in the direction where the one
Chinese had been seen. Then, for a few seconds, Wongele
Costa waited, confident that his own presence and prepara-
tions had not been detected.
Waldetekle crawled to him again, gesturing still more vig-
orously with the rifle. It was the sign that he had seen several
other Chinese moving along the same axis.
To Wongele Costa's left, a shallow gully ran unevenly to-
ward the ditch. Using hand signals, he told Tilahullninguse
to unpin a grenade, crawl down the gully and bomb into the
enemy group. It was done as directed. Wongele Costa was still
certain that the Chinese were unalerted and wholly within
his field of fire. But he was bent on capturing prisoners and he
figured wrongly, as developments were to prove that one
grenade would hardly more than momentarily upset them and
enable the support group to bag them before they could recoil.
Tilahullninguse was 15 yards uphill from the nearest Chi-
nese when he loosed his throw. As the grenade exploded, by
its light, Wongele Costa could see about twenty of the enemy.
More than that, they were deployed, lying flat and with
weapons pointed straight toward his support line, which so
far hadn't fired a shot.
As the scene went dark again, the enemy opened fire against
the ditch with grenades, rifles and submachine guns. Not
more than five seconds elapsed between the explosion and the
answering volley. Before Wongele Costa had time to shout
an order, the left wing of the support group had joined the
fight full blast, three rifles and the BAR.
In this way began a duel almost without parallel in mod-
ern war. The opposing lines were just a little less than 15
Into the Alligators Jaws 207
yards apart. (The distance was tape measured on the follow-
ing day.) At that range, as the shooting began, the odds were
four riflemen against twenty. Only Waldetekle's left wing was
free to trade fire with the enemy. His right flank weapons
were interdicted from fire by the turn in the ditch. From its
position on the knob, the assault group could not bring weap-
ons to bear on the Chinese without risking that the volley
would slaughter the four Ethiopians who were fighting. These
things, Wongele Costa weighed within the first few seconds
while watching the fire flash. He made his decision.
There was just time to call the assault group on the sound
power phone and say, "Don't move! Don't fire! Now send a
man down to the right flank of the support and give them
that same message." Then he turned to Tilahullninguse and
his two aid men and said, "Follow me!" On hands and knees,
he moved down the gully which cut through Waldetekle's
position, stopping every few feet to fire his carbine. The three
men behind him did the same.
Their entry into the ditch was timed precisely to save the
position, though the re-enforcement did no more than plug
the gaps cut into ranks. The ditch, which was running about
one foot of water, was deep enough to provide full body cover
for the line of riflemen. But to fire, a man had to come head
and shoulder above the embankment, and Waldetekle's half-
squad had chosen to face it, though bullets beat like hail
against the bank
A grenade sailed in, bounced off the bank and exploded as
it struck just above Waldetekle's elbow. His right arm was
blown off clean just below the shoulder socket. He uttered
neither cry nor groan. The others didn't know he was hurt
until with his left hand he passed the BAR to Private Yukonsi,
saying, "Fire, and keep it low." Thereafter, he continued to
208 Pork Chop Hill
Yukonsi triggered the weapon for only a few seconds. Then
a burp-gun burst hit him in the left arm, shredding it from
wrist to shoulder. The BAR was still in working order.
Yukonsi handed it to Tilahullninguse without a word, then
collapsed in the ditch unconscious from loss of blood.
On the extreme left of the line, Pvt. Mano Waldemarian
took three bullets through his brain. But in the frenzy of the
action, no one saw him fall.
Wongele Costa yelled to the two aid men to take over the
grenading. Then he propped against the ditch bank and let
go with the carbine, firing full automatic. During the re-
mainder of the duel, he worked as a rifleman, leaving the
directing to Waldetekle. The point-blank exchange continued
for another fifteen minutes. Wongele Costaa precise man-
timed it with his wrist watch. But once all five weapons were
brought to bear in volume, the enemy fire ranged increasingly
higher, and there were no more casualties in the ditch.
A messenger from the assault group came crawling down
the gully. Word of the action had been sent the battalion
commander, Lieut. Col. Wolde Yohanis Shitta. He was ask-
ing, "Shall I send help?"
Wongele Costa replied, "Tell him no. Tell him I can hold
this field with my own men/ 7 The messenger left and the
lieutenant resumed fire.
Action was temporarily suspended when at last Waldetekle
cried, "There's nothing coming back/' Wongele Costa called,
"Hold fire!" and then listened. It was true. Either the enemy
had been wholly destroyed or its discouraged remnant had
been driven off. There was not then time to look. The BAR
had gone dry. The carbine was empty and the aid men had
thrown their last grenades.
By radio Wongele Costa called for flares over the position,
as had been prearranged with the 48th Field Artillery Bat-
Into the Alligators Jaws 209
talion under Lieut. Col. Joseph S. Kimmitt. Within the next
minute he got four rounds. They lighted the hill and the ditch
bright as day, and, in so doing, diverted attention from what
had transpired in the foreground.
As the lights came on, Wongele Costa glanced toward the
hill at his back. Then he saw it: an entire Chinese platoon,
deployed in skirmish order, was advancing up the nose of the
ridge. The line of approximately fifty men was in that second
still upright and marching straight toward the assault group.
In the next second, the line had gone flat, thereby foiling the
lights. The Chinese were still about 100 yards short of the
position on the knob.
"VT fire on White all you can give me." That was the
radio message from Wongele Costa to the artillery. If the
proximity fuse shells came in as directed, they would just
miss his own men and stonk the enemy in the "white" area.
He got his barrage in exactly thirty seconds and it landed right
on the button. From his post in the ditch, he could see the
rounds exploding into the enemy line and he could hear the
outcries of the wounded. In less than one minute the forma-
tion was broken. Some of the Chinese ran for the base of the
hill. Others ran forward looking for a hole or a rock.
In that interval, Wongele Costa abandoned his position on
the left side of the ditch. The casualties were carried to the
position on the right flank. But in the darkness, he missed one
man, not knowing that Waldemarian was dead. So he called
for lights again to assist the search. When the flare came on,
he could see Waldemarian in the ditch. He sat there in a natu-
ral position, the rifle folded close in his arms. Wongele Costa
crawled over to him, found that he was dead and so returned,
carrying the body. Thereby he simply followed the tradition
of his corps. Fiercely proud of the loyalty of their men, officers
of the Imperial Guard are likely to say to a stranger, "Should
210 Pork Chop Hill
trouble come, stay with me, Fll be the last man to die/' But
in battle, it is the officer invariably who takes the extra risk
to save one of his own.
There had been no letup in the VT barraging of the nose
of the ridge. Costa simply had it shifted forward a short space
to choke off escape. Then Corporal Degene called him to
say that from the knob, he could hear the Chinese reassem-
bling on the other side of the finger, downslope 70 or 80 yards
from his position.
Wongele Costa again called the artillery, "Keep the fires
going on White. But give me more VT and put it on Red."
Fifty-five seconds later, the new barrage dropped on the far
flank of the hill. Thereafter, for 65 minutes, the fires were
continued unrelentingly against the "White" nose of the hill
and the "Red" slope.
The patrol merely continued to hold ground. Degene's men
neither shifted position nor fired a shot. Unassisted, the artil-
lery broke the back of the Chinese attack.
Wongele Costa and assistants had long since returned to
their position between the two groups. The aid men had
tourniqueted and quieted the wounded. They would have to
last it with the others.
At 0430 Colonel Shitta called the lieutenant to ask how
things were going.
Wongele Costa replied, "The only live Chinese in this
valley are in our hands."
Said Shitta, "If that's it, you might as well return."
So Wongele Costa got the patrol reassembled and on the
trail. To the number of twenty-two, they had counted enemy
dead in their foreground. They were confident that with the
help of the artillery, they had wounded at least as many more.
Two badly shot-up prisoners had been taken.
The wounded and dead were put in the van of the column.
Into the Alligator's Jaws 211
Costa helped bear Waldemarian's body. They started uptrail
and at last closed on the company lines at 0535. They still
looked fresh in the full light of a lovely dawn.
There is but one note needed in summary. Wongele Costa
and his twenty men were having their first experience under
fire. Theirs was the first patrol sent from the newly arrived
Ethiopian battalion which had come to Korea boasting that
it would outshine the old Kagnew Battalion, which was a
But these men knew their ground, almost as a man knows
the palm of his own hand. Following the method used by the
old battalion, four afternoons successively, prior to the pay
run, all members of the patrol had marched to the entrenched
height on the Alligator's Jaws which overlooked the flat they
had chosen to give battle. There they had spent hours study-
ing the distances, the relation of one slope to another and the
likely application of weapons, according to the probable con-
The start of their debriefing followed the combat by less
than two hours. Wongele Costa said, "Every detail of that
ground had become part of a print in my mind. It was like
moving in my own house. I could see in the dark."
TWO HOURS BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON 1O MAY, 3-953, A
twenty-four-man patrol from Charley Company, lyth Infan-
try Regiment, started a starlit march toward T-Bone Hill.
They were led by 2nd Lieut. Ronald A. Monier, who had
not yet been under fire. As they began the descent from the
main-line ridge, moving single file along the trail winding to
the valley, there was a normal expectation that within four
hours they would return whole and hearty, reporting a nega-
tive end to a routine mission.
Their commander, Lieut. Stephen J. Patrick, watched them
vanish into the downslope darkness and then went to OP 17
from where he would follow them by radio.
The assigned route took them into no-man's country with
its chance of hostile contact* But the Korean night was calm
and clear, the men were buoyantly fresh and the mission was
too limited to make an open fight seem likely.
Charley Company's trench overlooked two strongly forti-
fied outposts garrisoned by Americans 600 yards forward of
the Army main line. The perimeters of these small subridges,
Erie and Arsenal, fairly dominated that part of the valley
bottom where the patrol would nest,
Monier had been ordered to advance past Arsenal to where
its forward fingers tapered to the low ground. There, at a dis-
tance approximately 900 yards north of the Arsenal trenches,
Double Ambush 213
he was to deploy the patrol defensively and sit tight The ob-
ject in all such operations was to ambush an enemy patrol
if possible, or capture prisoners, or forestall surprise against
the main line. Provided none of these opportunities arose, the
patrol would hold ground for four hours and then return
to home base.
By Korean war standards, it was a conventional design. The
start this time was auspicious. During the march, all things
went perfectly. Monier was delighted that his men moved
right along and maintained just the right interval. They did
their 1,500 yards in complete silence and got to the appointed
ground without once breaking their good march order.
Come to the terminus of Arsenal's most forward finger,
the patrol split in two. The "support group" of twelve men,
led by SFC Julio S. Varela, deployed as a crescent around the
last knob of the finger, their backs toward Arsenal, their
weapons sighted forward.
Monier and his dozen continued on another 100 yards.
That interval put the "assault group" in the bottom of a
sandy wash and next the embankment of an irrigation canal
which followed a twisting course around the base of Arsenal.
The ditch was, in fact, between the two halves of the patrol.
Some of the men groused to each other that its high banks
gave the enemy a perfect approach to inside the position. But
they said nothing to Monier. So the forward group there
formed another defensive crescent facing toward the ditch.
There ensued for the twenty-four men under Monier an
eventless and prolonged semivigil. At the assault position
several old 6o-mm mortar holes were convenient to the pur-
pose. Apart from the shallow cover these pits provided, the
patrol did not dig in. With the lengthening of the night and
the ceasing of all activity, their senses dulled and even the
214 Por k ch P
best soldiers among them felt an almost overpowering urge
But along the friendly heights to rearward of them, there
was a sense of danger not shared by the patrol. This violated
the familiar rule in Korean operations. Usually in his move-
ment through disputed country, the Chinese enemy was so
furtive that he gave no preliminary warning to the defenders
on the heights despite their superior observation. It was a
common thing for patrols to get within grenade-throwing dis-
tance of an enemy column without any warning being
sounded. At such close quarters, getting word back to home
base without alerting the Chinese was a main problem.
But on this midnight the closest echelons to rearward knew
that the valley was crawling with a live danger though no
warning word got forward to the twenty-four men nearest its
embrace. It was the fault of no one man in particular. There
were small slips at various points. All that the rear knew or
suspected was not relayed to Monier by phone or radio, and
such little information as Monier received, he did not pass
along to others in the patrol. Possibly this reticence came of
his lack of experience; most of his men were likewise green
and in no mood to prod him. In consequence of several lapses
in leadership, the patrol for at least ninety minutes carried
out its mission perfunctorily, when all the time the rear was
aware of developments which would have kept its members
fully awake and watchful
The communications lag which invoked the penalty is al-
most exactly measurable. Monier's men continued at a half-
way alert right till the moment when they were due to
withdraw. By their own account, as 0200 hours approached,
they were taking it easy with no sweat The initial tension had
passed completely and most of the men were sprawled and
resting. Said Pfc. Eldridge J. Linkous afterward, "Not one
Double Ambush 215
word had been said about the enemy; after three hours of
waiting, I felt perfectly safe."
But on the big ridge to the rear of Arsenal Outpost, at
thirty minutes past midnight, Lieut. Omer L. Coble, Jr., of
the battalion staff, had received a message from the men
manning Outguard No. 11. That listening post was at the base
of Arsenal and covered one of its flanks. Its men had seen a
party of twelve Chinese approach to within 50 yards of their
ground. Taking a quick reckoning of the terrain and distance,
Coble figured that he could put up lights to reassure the out-
guard and still not endanger the patrol. But he checked with
Monier on that point and was told to go ahead. Also, his re-
quest for the flares was approved by Maj. Earl C. Acuff, the
The mortar section of Baker Company, which was to fire
the flares, was behind Erie Outpost Because of uncertainty
over the target area, possibly compounded by Coble's in-
structions cautioning against high-lighting the patrol, the
shoot was long delayed. Finally, two rounds were gotten off.
The outguard reported that the second one had shone di-
rectly over the desired spot and had scared away the enemy.
Again at 0145 Coble was called. The reserve platoon on
Arsenal had heard an unknown number of enemy moving
around on the slope behind the CP. Coble told them, "Gre-
nade your wire and then investigate/* This they did, but found
nothing. Almost coincidentally a work detail from Charley
Company reported "enemy moving" on the forward slope of
Erie Outpost. Via the hot loop, Coble passed this informa-
tion to the companies and again asked permission to fire
By then Lieutenant Patrick's company loop was alive with
information. Outguard No. 11, on the slope which faced
toward Erie, was again calling. It could see between fifty and
216 Pork Chop Hill
sixty Chinese milling around on the ground between Erie and
Arsenal. Could the battalion help out by firing some lights
over that area? Coble concluded that it was a good idea. He
again called the Baker mortar section and ordered the firing
of flares between the two outposts. Again, there was the pro-
longed delay in executing the order.
Adding these reports, then discounting them by half, the
indications remained strong that the Chinese in superior num-
bers held ground between the patrol and home base. Yet
what the company and the battalion surmised either did not
get through to the patrol, or if Monier heard it, he still did
not share the information with his men. They remained sleep-
ily unaware. Pvt. Charles Riddle, who was carrying the phone
for Monier, heard Coble request and receive permission to fire
the flares. But Riddle was a new soldier and to him the mes-
sage conveyed nothing. Pltn. Sgt. Jack D. Robbins did not
even hear that much and his confidence that the night was
clear of danger continued unabated.
At 0200, Monier, checking his watch, said to Robbins, "It's
time to call the company." Robbins nodded and walked away
a little distance. Riddle handed the phone to Monier, then
stepped back a few feet, not noticing that the wire was looped
around his leg.
The conversation lasted not more than five seconds.
Monier said, "Negative. Shall we withdraw?"
Patrick replied, "Hold just a few minutes. Someone be-
tween us and Baker. We want to check."
As Patrick finished, the sharp rattle of automatic fire and
several loud explosions came at him over the phone. Then
Monier's voice yelling, "Hell's fire!" At that point SFC Joe
Lopez of the support group cut into the loop just long enough
to say, "We're hit!" The line went dead and Patrick heard
nothing more from Monier.
Double Ambush 217
To say what killed the phone is easier than to explain how
the surprise was put upon the patrol. Exactly as Monier called,
the Chinese sprang their trap. The triangular-shaped ambush
had been drawn up between the two groups so that it covered
Monier's crescent full length. Undetected, the enemy had
worked to within 20 to 35 yards of the assault party. Appar-
ently timed to some signal perhaps Monier's call the Chi-
nese grenadiers and tommy gunners had opened fire together.
For a few seconds, Riddle, the phone man, galvanized by
shock, stood rooted to the spot Then he dove for the nearest
cover and, diving, with the wire twined about his leg, broke
Thereby Monier was cut away both from the higher levels
and from his twelve men to rearward. All that saved his own
party in this first crisis was that the enemy was too eager even
as the patrol was too incautious. Except for Monier, Riddle
and Robbins, the men were already prone, though not guard-
ing and ready to fire. A flattened, motionless man on a dark
night is not a satisfactory target even for point-blank musketry.
Had the enemy but marked time for a few minutes, the group
might have been caught formed and standing. That opening
grenade shower, exploding among the Americans, failed to hit
flesh; in fact, most of the bombs fell short. The automatic fire
was high. But it was not high enough for Monier's men to
feel like raising their heads or turning until they could bring
their own weapons to bear. So there was no counteraction.
The Americans simply lay there under and amid the whistling
steel, helpless but for the moment unharmed. It was a tem-
porary reprieve, made so by the bad shooting and hesitancy
of the enemy. Having virtually won the skirmish with the per-
fectly staged ambush, the Chinese forbore to clinch it with
a closing rush.
Robbins, like Riddle, had hit the dirt. That left Monier
2 i8 Pork Chop Hill
the only man not prone. He still knelt by the telephone. His
first flash reaction, in the seconds when shock passed and his
wits returned, was to call Varela for help. But as he fumbled
with the instrument, trying to raise the support party, sud-
denly the sky came bright not more than 120 yards to his rear.
Varela's knob stood out boldly under the glare. Monier
shouted into the dead phone, "What's happening back there?
What's happening?" In his excitement, he didn't realize that
the line wasn't working, while Riddle, watching this vain
effort detachedly, was too stunned to tell him.
For perhaps one full minute the assault party continued in
this weird tableau, the men pinned, Monier trying to raise
someone on a dead line, the fire sweeping overhead, the
enemy too fearful to close, the front of the patrol full beset
and paralyzed, its members counting for survival on help from
the rear element
That faint hope was already dashed, though Monier's party
remained unaware. Varela's party, formed in their loose semi-
circle on ground 30 feet higher than Monier's, should have
had the best fighting chance, all other things being equal.
In greater strength than opposed Monier, a second enemy
wing stalked Varela. But its skirmishers had not yet fixed the
position with a tight ambush. They were still groping and
closing when the thing happened.
Belatedly the mortar battery from Baker Company fired
its two flares as ordered by Lieutenant Coble. They were in-
tended to illuminate the vale between Arsenal and Erie. But
the crew had been listening to too many co-ordinates that
night and the lights missed their target by a country mile.
Flaming on the wrong side of Arsenal ridge, they drifted
directly down on Varela's party, transfixing it like a poacher
shining deer. Suddenly every man in the crescent was under
bright light. Sergeant Lopez got off one last frantic message
Double Ambush 219
to Patrick, "The lights are on top of us. For God's sake stop
them!" Then Patrick heard the line go dead. It was the final
message between patrol and company. But it was too late. The
damage was done.
Two lines of Chinese had been converging toward Varela's
knob when the lights came on. The physical evidence sug-
gests they could not have been more than 35 or 40 yards away.
But the Americans, stone-blinded by the magnesium glare,
saw nothing. They knew the Chinese were there in the mo-
ment when their spotlighted stage was riven by an intense
crossfire from automatic guns.
Pfc. Thomas L. Colvin, the radio man, was hit in the head
by a burst which opened his skull and laid his brain bare,
though he still lived.
Pvt Pak Hak Soon, rifleman, took three bullets through
his legs and one through his right shoulder.
Sgt. Robert W. Pratt, who was acting as forward observer
for the mortars, was hit in the hand, back and chest.
Pvt Donald B. Bashaw, who had been on the sniperscope,
was dead, six bullets in his neck and head.
Sergeant Lopez was also hit six times, both arms, both
hands, both legs.
But of these deep and mortal wounds inflicted in the early
seconds, the few who survived whole-bodied saw and felt
nothing. They were still sightless from the glare's aftereffect.
The noise of enemy fire drowned every outcry.
The first flare parachuted down to land not more than five
yards from Cpl. James R. Hammond who was third man from
Varela. The second parachute hit earth about 35 yards be-
hind the knob. By then the scene was again dark. But while
the hapless targets were less naked to the fire, vision did not
Again, had the enemy rushed, every man would have been
220 Pork Chop Hill
lost. For at least two or three minutes the Chinese maintained
fire from the distance. When at last Varela's sight cleared, a
Chinese stood directly over him, arm cocked to throw a gre-
nade. Varela pulled the trigger of his Mi and the man
Varela unpinned a grenade. Before he could heave it, enemy
grenades fell all around him. They came in batches, five or
six at a time. He felt that he was surrounded and probably
alone on the knob an inaccurate impression. Instinct made
him thresh out with arms and legs as the grenades came in,
kicking and pushing them away. His guardian angel must
have stood with him. At least a dozen bombs exploded just
outside the circle of his reach but not one fragment touched
So unremitting had been the pressure that his own grenade
was still in his hand, kept inoperative only by the tight clench-
ing of his fist. There was no time to throw it, though retain-
ing it compounded his danger. If stunned, he would die from
his own bomb.
As the bombardment slackened momentarily, Varela rolled
off the knob and crawled on his belly toward the irrigation
ditch. He still knew nothing of what had happened to his
men, his own ordeal having kept him insensible to all else
that went on. But he knew that whether any of the others
still lived, at least the chance for successful resistance on
the group's chosen ground had died with the lights.
Varela crawled deeper into the rice paddy, feeling surprise
that no enemy moved to stop him. Halfway along he got his
answer. From beyond the canal bank, submachine-gun fire
searched the muddy flat. Varela counted at least four weapons
firing from behind the bank. With the situation delivered
wholly into their hands, the Chinese had "chickened" and
sought the cover of the waist-high embankment.
Double Ambush 221
In the muck Varela overtook Pvt. Ronald P. Devries, who
was barely dragging along, due to a shattered hip. Beyond
Devries were Private Soon, thrice wounded, and Cpl. Robert
Fontaine, with a bullet in his right arm. Varela slowed to the
pace of the three hit men.
The last to close on this battered group was Pvt. Gonzales
Carmela, Puerto Rican, the only man who had used a weapon
at the original position, the last fighter to withdraw from the
Carmela is built like a bull, blond, blue-eyed, ruddy-faced,
a singular type for a Latin. He speaks no English; so Varela,
the boy from the Southwest, had been his channel to the
While still blinded from the lights, he had fired two clips
from his Mi, just getting the stuff out as best he could. Then
the rifle fouled from a ruptured cartridge. By the time he
could see again, there seemed to be no one moving on the
knob. Sergeant Pratt, thrice wounded, was still sticking it,
and would continue to do so, trying to raise the mortar section
on radio so that he could report the plight of the patrol. But
this Carmela didn't know.
So he stood up and walked away. When he reached the
paddy and the bullet fire came against him, he continued on
hands and knees. Until he overtook Varela, he had main-
tained himself in utter solitude. As he explained, the overpow-
ering sound and fury of the fire fight had excluded all sensa-
tion of the near presence of other men. He said, "I could feel
me and the fire. I lived. The object of the fire was to kill me.
So I fired/' Elementary, but still the hardest lesson to drive
into an infantryman's head.
Pulling along the others, Varela and Carmela got to within
15 yards of the ditch bank. There Varela called halt. He knew
that Soon, Devries and Fontaine were useless because of their
Monier's advance and the Communist penetration.
Double Ambush 223
arm wounds. So he whispered, "Give me your grenades."
With the six which he collected, he had eight. Carmela was
Then on Varela's signal, he and Carmela stood together
and grenaded into the ditch. As the bombs went off, they
could see the water splash. And they could hear the scream-
ing of the Chinese along the embankment They were certain
that their metal had bit into some of the targets and demor-
alized others. For the moment, the enemy weapons were
Feeble as was this action, it was the only piece of timed
and collected counterhitting by members of the patrol. And
it lasted less than one minute.
With the throwing of the last grenade, Varela and Carmela
pulled the other three to their feet, and as best they could, the
five men moved obliquely across the paddy. Varela wanted to
get to Monier; he did not know that the assault group was
already close engaged; his own ordeal excluded all impression
of things elsewhere.
Devries could no longer walk. Varela carried him piggy-
back. Carmela put an arm under Soon's shoulder. Their
route would take them through the ditch at the point where
it cut the line between the patrol's two initial positions. They
tried to run because the tommy-gun fire was again nipping at
Lopez, Hammond and the few others who had escaped the
knob immediately all ran directly toward Monier while
Varela and his party were attacking across the paddy. All had
been wounded, and none was any longer in condition to fight.
They could not have reached the canal bank at a worse
moment either for themselves or for the good of Monier's
party. The whole action had not yet lasted five minutes and
Monier was still paralyzed by the circumstances. The Chinese
224 Pork Chop Hill
who had boxed in his crescent were concentrated between the
two halves of the patrol with their center anchored on the
Startled by the burning of the flares on their rear, the Chi-
nese skirmishers contracted toward the ditch and, in so doing,
disunified and reduced their fire. Thereby for the first time,
Monier's men came relatively free to move and to think about
using their own weapons.
Pfc. Robert W. Krause swung his BAR into action, aiming
at the ditch bank. Sergeant Robbins yelled, "Everybody fire!
Everybody fire!" Several riflemen joined Krause.
They barely got started. Then they heard cries out of the
target area. "Lieutenant Monier. Lieutenant Monier. Where
are you? Don't shoot. We're coming in/'
Krause yelled, "Cease fire! That's Lopez." Over the sights
of his weapon, he could see five or six men rise up along the
canal bank, amid the Chinese, and lurch toward him.
Monier also realized these were his own men. He yelled,
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot! That's the support/' That stayed
all hands just in the nick of time. The position had to go
quiet to save Lopez, Hammond and others in the first group
of walking wounded. Hobbling toward Monier from the ditch,
they masked the enemy position just a few feet to their rear.
This sudden appearance was hardly less confusing to the
Chinese than to Monier. They could have won in that mo-
ment by redoubling their small-arms fire. Instead, they
stopped. Then a few of them arose and, following along be-
hind Lopez' group, used the Americans as a shield while
grenading over their heads toward Monier.
By then, Varela and his group were approaching the same
canal turn, so that, in effect, the deployment was like a four-
layer cake, alternately American and Chinese. Varela still car-
Re-assembly of Monier's Patrol.
ried Devries. But both he and Devries had been hit by gre-
nade shards during the last stretch.
It was an unbelievable entanglement executed in slow mo-
tion. Due to the reeling pace of the walking wounded and the
folly of the enemy in not standing as a firm fire block, the
agonizingly slow convergence but compounded confusion to
both sides. At this stage one eddy of resolute action on either
side might have made a stampede.
Varela caught up with Lopez just after crossing the canal.
Lopez said, "I'm done. You take over/' But there was nothing
to take over. Both were aware that they were moving almost
cheek-to-jowl amid the Chinese. They could do nothing about
it except lurch onward toward Monier.
Sergeant Robbins watched this strange formation approach.
Almost spellbound by the spectacle, and feeling his own nerve
unravel, he was jarred out of it when a grenade bounced off
226 Pork Chop Hill
his helmet and exploded. Suddenly he was at dead center of
the enemy grenade shower. As Varela had done earlier, he
gave over all else to fend off the missiles landing in his per-
sonal circle. While succeeding in this mad scramble, he heard
cries from two of his men which told him they had been hit.
Again it was Private Krause, the BAR man, who led by
example when all other kind of leading failed. Krause saw
one of Varela's men crawling toward him from the ditch bank.
Behind the American came two Chinese grenading toward
Krause. The wounded man was about 20 yards away when
Krause rolled to escape the first grenade, then rolled the other
way to clear the second. The leading Chinese got to within
five yards when, having dodged two more grenades, Krause
triggered his weapon and shot down both Chinese. One of
them had already blasted toward Krause with a submachine
gun and was less than 10 yards away when Krause killed him.
Having started, Krause maintained fire until he had spent
half a magazine. He couldn't be sure of friend or foe. But
wherever he saw an unhelmeted head, that was his target.
Twenty-five yards away from Robbins, on the extreme left
of the defensive crescent, lay Cpl. Richard E. Murdock, rifle-
man. So far, he had been a bystander, doing nothing. It had
seemed to him that when Monier gave the order, "Don't
shoot!" the Chinese grenadiers had arisen and moved via their
right flank, so that they bore directly down on him. For a few
seconds, he watched, certain he would be overrun, yet holding
his hand because of Monier's order.
That changed when a Chinese stood almost directly over
him firing a burp gun toward Monier's end of the line. Mur-
dock didn't have to aim his Mi to kill the man; there was no
way to miss. A second Chinese came right behind him and
was dropped by one round. Then from 1 5 yards out, two Chi-
nese rushed him, grenading as they ran. Both grenades missed
Double Ambush 227
and the two Chinese ran right over Murdock. Turning, he
threw a grenade without aiming. By sheer luck, it exploded
between the pair, felling both of them.
Murdock yelled, "I did it! I did it!" So intense was his
feeling of personal relief that seconds passed before he real-
ized there were no longer any targets in sight. He looked
around. The scene had become almost inanimate. The rest of
the enemy had vanished into the landscape.
Intrinsically brief as were these two personal stands by
private soldiers, Krause and Murdock, they were pivotal in
effect. In the end, they saved most of the patrol to fight an-
other day. None other among Monier's men had reacted in
the same strong way during the critical minute when it
seemed that everything was lost. The others did not shrink
from duty. It was simply that they could not see anything to
Privates Linkous, Riddle and Wilson still had not fired. So
swift had been the transitions in situation that they could not
understand what was going on or distinguish friend from foe.
Wilson in particular was looking for a chance to fight and
was angry that he had been thus far balked.
Again, Monier had jumped for the telephone, still not real-
izing that it was dead. He wanted flares put over the scene.
Since they could hardly have helped him, and the patrol's
scrambled situation was beyond effective intervention by the
artillery, it is perhaps just as well that he couldn't get through.
Robbins moved toward Monier to tell him that it was use-
less to call. Before he could reach him, Cpl. J. B. Craft
sprawled between them crying, "I'm hit." Monier said, "We
better get out of here," then stopped to feel for the wound in
A grenade exploded between Robbins and Monier. The
blast knocked Robbins off his feet and backwards. Some of
228 Pork Chop Hill
the fragments cut into Monier who, though Robbins didn't
know it, was already carrying five burp-gun bullets in his legs.
Stunned, Robbins momentarily lost his feeling of what was
happening. When his brain cleared, he could see some of the
men already in motion toward the canal along the path back
to Arsenal. He started after them, not knowing that Monier
was still down and unconscious.
In this way the two leaders lost contact. Craft also had
arisen from beside Monier and started back. From out of the
darkness, occasional grenades pitched and exploded onto the
ground where the patrol had been. There was no more auto-
Carmela, the strong Puerto Rican, loaded the helpless
Devries on his back and started for Charley Company's home
on the big ridge. He made it, 1,500 uphill yards, carrying his
wounded comrade all the way.
Robbins got only so far as the knob which the support
group had occupied. There, seeing a huddle of his men, and
hoping to get them reorganized, he called out, "What kind
of weapons you got?" Himself so dazed that he could not
remember whether he had come the 100 yards walking or
crawling, he still had the wholly mistaken impression that
only three or four members of the patrol had been hit. That
illusion died when he checked the group of nine. Every man
was weaponless. All were too badly hit to do much more than
Bashaw's body was there, the sniperscope beside it. Mur-
dock felt for his pulse and said, "Dead/' Pvt Jimmy R. Wil-
son wanted to be sure. He also felt the pulse and said, "You're
right; he's very dead/'
Sergeant Pratt, the mortar FO, shot in back, hands and
chest, was still at his radio working, at last in the act of raising
the Baker mortar section. He told them that the patrol was
Double Ambush 229
shattered and that a succoring party was needed to get the
survivors back to Arsenal.
The people on Erie relayed that message to Lieutenant
Coble. He was told that the men under Robbins would mark
time at the foot of Arsenal. It was the only message received
by anyone in the battalion and it proved to be wrong.
Robbins reckoned that there was still death all around him,
and if anyone was to be saved, it was best to get his depend-
ents moving. At first they strove to reach the high ground
bringing out their dead and wounded. But it was a vain effort.
Then Private Wilson protested that they were uselessly spend-
ing the residue of strength which might enable them to save
Colvin. There had been no need to check the pulse of the
man with the shattered skull; he was screaming high in de-
So they left Bashaw's body there and struggled on. Their
main enemy was now the slope. Such was the weight of the
wounded that they could move upward only a few feet at a
time. In the next hour they moved only 150 yards.
During this vulnerable passage the Chinese dogged their
footsteps. On both sides enemy flankers moved parallel to
the column. There was no fire. But the Americans were
mocked by derisive calls and the jangling of cowbells from
out the darkness.
Private Soon, slowed by his wounds, fell into enemy hands.
Before dawn he would show up at an outguard post on Erie
with a strange story about contriving escape by feigning death.
At 0315 the men in the center of Third Platoon's position
on Arsenal heard repeatedly a plaintive call coming from be-
yond their belt of protective wire.
"Gist! Gist! Come help me."
They were baffled by it because the slope in that sector was
supposedly interdicted by a tightly laid minefield. But they
230 Pork Chop Hill
passed the word to 2nd Lieut. Roy A. Gist. He crawled
through the wire and found Lieutenant Monier flattened on
the far side.
Monier was badly dazed and bleeding hard. Consciousness
had returned to him shortly after Robbins had left the posi-
tion. But in his shocked condition he had missed the trail,
gone to the wrong ridge finger and kept climbing. His erratic
course took him directly through the minefield. When the
wire stopped him, he at last got his bearings and called for
Even so, he had returned before the patrol. From him, Gist
and the others got the first word of how the patrol had been
ambushed. Gist got him through the wire and carried him to
the CP. Already, Gist had volunteered to lead a rescue mis-
sion. He rounded up twelve men and led them through the
minefield along a marked path leading to a listening post, ap-
proximately reversing Monier's upward journey.
Within a few minutes, they were at the knob where Varela
had been hit. Because of Pratt's message to Coble, Gist had
expected to find the survivors there. He found no one.
So he called out for the two men in the patrol whom he
"Craft! Fontaine! Craft! Fontaine!"
From just a short distance up the finger, Craft answered,
"I'm here." The party under Robbins had all but foundered.
Robbins sent Krause down to guide Gist's group to him. Then
the worst wounded were loaded on litters.
They were ready to start climbing when someone said, re-
ferring to Bashaw's body, "But we've left a man behind."
Gist answered, "Then we have to get him."
Private Wilson again lost his temper. "Damn it, Lieuten-
ant," he said, "that man is dead."
Said Gist, "We've got to be sure." He then told SFC Ken-
Double Ambush 231
neth G. Booth of his own party to take along another man
and bring back Bashaw.
Young Wilson, nettled to the limit, volunteered for the
job, saying, "Damn it, I'll go along to show you that he's
dead/' He turned back to the valley.
When they reached Bashaw, Wilson again felt for a pulse
beat. Then he tried to shoulder the dead weight. The ser-
geant meantime was covering him, with his rifle pointing
downtrail. Bashaw was heavy. The weight was beyond Wil-
son's strength. As he struggled with it, Booth called, "Chinese
coming up the finger!"
Wilson said, "Damn it, we got to leave this man."
Before Booth could give him an argument, they were en-
gaged by rifle and grenade fire. Both men returned it with
their Mis and Wilson threw his last two grenades. Still more
grenades came in on them.
Wilson yelled, "Damn it, follow me. I'm getting out of
They legged it toward Gist. As they rejoined the party,
Wilson said to him, "If you want me to bring that man out,
you better give me a few hands who can do some fighting/'
His complete earnestness won Gist over. He could no longer
see any logic in risking additional lives toward recovering a
body. He said, "Let's march."
The fifth litter was loaded and the last of the patrol was
When they counted heads on reaching Arsenal's first-aid
station, six men were still unaccounted for. Four of them
showed up later at Erie. They had missed their way in the
darkness and wandered until they heard a friendly challenge.
At dawn Lieut. Roberto L. Cordova led another patrol
down from Arsenal to recover Bashaw's body. They also sal-
vaged part of the litter left in the patrol's wake telephone,
232 Pork Chop Hill
radio, sniperscope, BAR, three Mis and five carbines, the last
all fully loaded.
As they lifted cargo to start the return journey, cowbells
jangled among the wild thorn beyond the canal. The morning
was delightfully calm but the enemy still lingered in the
The Incredible Patrol
JLJIKE HORATIUS AT THE BRIDGE OR THE SCREAMING EAGLES AT
Bastogne, it was a classic fight, ending in clean triumph over
seemingly impossible odds. But unlike other great tales of
war which become legend, it went unsung, though it hap-
pened almost under the noses of 163 war correspondents then
in Seoul, forty minutes' air flight from the fight. Held spell-
bound by the headline values of Operation Little Switch, they
had neither time nor space for the reporting of epic courage.
Such abberations are common in modern warfare. Homeric
happenings go unreported. Sometimes the bravest meet death
with their deeds known only to heaven.
If another reason is needed for now unfolding the tale,
there is this, that of all troops which fought in Korea, the
Ethiopians stood highest in the quality of their officer-man
relationships, the evenness of their performance under fire
and the mastery of techniques by which they achieved near
perfect unity of action in adapting themselves to new weap-
ons during training and in using them to kill efficiently in
They couldn't read maps but they never missed a trail.
Out of dark Africa came these men, thin, keen eyed, agile
of mind and 95 per cent illiterate. They could take over U. S.
Signal Corps equipment and in combat make it work twice as
well as the best-trained American troops. When they engaged,
234 Pork Chop Hill
higher headquarters invariably knew exactly what they were
doing. The information which they fed back by wire and
radio was far greater in volume and much more accurate than
anything coming from American actions.
Their capacities excelled also in one diversionary aspect of
the soldierly arts. There are no better whisky drinkers under
the sun. They take it neat, a full tumbler at a time, without
pause or chaser, and seem abashed that Americans can't fol-
low suit. This unexampled skill might properly become a
proper object for research by a top-level military mission.
Their one lack was a good press. The Turks, the ROKs, the
Commonwealth Division and others in the medley got due
notice. But the Ethiopians stood guard along their assigned
ridges in a silence unbroken by the questions of the itinerant
correspondents. They were eager to welcome strangers and
tell how they did it. But no one ever asked.
If to our side, at the end as in the beginning, they were the
Unknown Battalion, to the Communists they were a still
greater mystery. When the final shot was fired, one significant
mark stood to their eternal credit. Of all national groups fight-
ing in Korea, the Ethiopians alone could boast that they had
never lost a prisoner or left a dead comrade on the battlefield.
Every wounded man, every shattered body, had been returned
to the friendly fold.
That uniquely clean sheet was not an accident of numbers
only. Knowing how to gamble with death, they treated it
lightly as a flower. On night patrol, as he crossed the valley
and prowled toward the enemy works, the Ethiopian soldier
knew that his chance of death was compounded. It was stand-
ing procedure in the battalion that if a patrol became sur-
rounded beyond possibility of extrication, the supporting ar-
tillery would be ordered to destroy the patrol to the last man.
That terrible alternative was never realized. Many times en-
The Incredible Patrol 235
veloped, the Ethiopian patrols always succeeded in breaking
the fire ring and returning to home base. If there were dead
or wounded to be carried, the officer or NCO leader was the
first to volunteer. When fog threatened to diffuse a patrol,
the Ethiopians moved hand in hand, like children. Even so,
though they deny it, these Africans are cat-eyed men with an
especial affinity for moving and fighting in the dark. In most
of the races of man, superstition unfolds with the night, trick-
ing the imagination and stifling courage. It is not so with the
Ethiopians. The dark holds no extra terror. It is their element
Of this in part came the marked superiority in night opera-
tions which transfixed the Chinese. It hexed them as if they
were fighting the superhuman. The Ethiopian left no tracks,
seemingly shed no blood and spoke always in an unknown
tongue. Lack of bodily proof that he was mortal made him
seem phantom like and forbiddingly unreal.
That may explain why, toward the close, everything done
by the Ethiopians seemed so unbelievably easy, even under
full sunlight. We watched them from Observation Point 29
through glasses on a fair afternoon in mid-May, 1953, * n as
mad an exploit as was ever dared by man. Under full observa-
tion from enemy country, eight Ethiopians walked 800 yards
across no-man's land and up the slope of T-Bone Hill right
into the enemy trenches. When next we looked, the eight had
become ten. The patrol was dragging back two Chinese pris-
oners, having snatched them from the embrace of the Com-
munist battalion. It was only then that the American artillery
came awake and threw smoke behind them. They got back to
our lines unscratched. So far as I know, this feat is unmatched
in war. How account for it? Either the hex was working or
the Communists thought the patrol was coming in to sur-
This brazen piece of effrontery took place only three days
Pork Chop Hill
The front along the Yokkokchon as seen from the crest of Hill 327.
This sketch was made by a tank gunner and used by him to assist his
after the fight of the Incredible Patrol. These were actions by
men who had never previously been under fire. Ethiopia sent
a fresh battalion every twelve months. Kagnew Battalion
named after the war charger of King Menelik in the first war
with Italyhad fust sailed for Africa after little more than
a year in line, with its men grousing, as soldiers ever do, be-
cause they had been held overtime. They were also piqued
because the relief battalion was boasting that it was better
before it had ever faced the enemy. Thereafter the war lasted
just long enough for the new arrivals to supply a few items in
solid proof that they might have cleaned it up, but for the
papers signed in Panmunjom.
My part in these things was that I was working over all
patrols along our part of the front which had met and fought
the Chinese. We were trying to get uniformity into our de-
briefing system so that all data would be equally reliable and
we could see where we were making our mistakes.
My work was to get to the survivors immediately and draw
out of them all that had happened. It necessitated ridge-
hopping by helicopter through the late dark or early light so
The Incredible Patrol 237
that I could interview the patrol at the point where it re-
entered our lines. By dawn, the front was normally quiet save
for the singing of larks, thrushes, thrashers and cardinals. It
was a wonderful front for bird watchers.
There were fifteen men in the Incredible Patrol under the
command of 22-year-old 2nd Lieut. Zeneke Asfaw. They were
of the Third Company of the new Battalion Kagnew, and the
First Company of that command, under Capt. Behanu
Tariau, was garrisoning two outpost hillocks flanking the nar-
row draw via which Asfaw's party moved toward enemy coun-
The plan and scene were typical of many such operations
during the last two years of the Korean war. Forming the right
flank of the United States yth Infantry Division along the
Eighth Army's main resistance line, the battalion held the
crest line of a great ridge which rose about 300 meters above
the valley floor. Forward of the great ridge approximately 750
meters were the outpost hillocks, Yoke and Uncle, each en-
trenched all around its summit, and with slopes well covered
by wire entanglements.
Yoke was just large enough to accommodate a platoon. As
with a hundred other such small hill positions forward of the
Eighth Army's main line, the twofold object in garrisoning
Yoke was to parry any attack before the Chinese could reach
the big trench, and, also, to lure the enemy into the open
where he could be blasted by the markedly superior American
artillery. It was wearing duty, for it made troops feel like the
bait in a trap. So the garrisons were rotated every five days.
Lieutenant Asfaw's mission on the night of 19 May was to
descend into the main valley about 800 yards to the right front
of Yoke and in this disputed ground attempt to ambush $
Chinese patrol and return with prisoners. This was the more
or less routine object in all patrolling. He started his march
238 Pork Chop Hill
at eleven o'clock, with his second in command, 21 -year-old
Cpl. Arage Affere, leading the column. In exactly thirty-five
minutes, they reached the bottom. The actual trail distance
had been one and one-half miles, partway uphill, where the
route traversed two ridge fingers. But they had done most of
it at a running walk
At twenty minutes before midnight, having seen nothing
of the enemy, Asfaw decided to halt The patrol had come to
a concrete-walled irrigation ditch. Where Asfaw stood, the
ditch did a go-degree turn, with the elbow pointing directly
at T-Bone Hill. To the youngster came the flash inspiration
that here was the tailor-made deadfall. Three trails crossed
within a few yards of the bend in the ditch. He could deploy
his men within the protecting walls and await the enemy.
Within the next five minutes he distributed his men evenly
around the angle with one Browning automatic rifle on each
It was done in the nick of time. There was the briefest wait.
At ten minutes before midnight, Asfaw, straining to catch
any movement in the darkness, saw standing in the clear, 300
yards to his front, a lone Chinese. While he looked, approxi-
mately one platoon built up on the motionless scout and
simply stood there, as if waiting a signal. It was a tempting
target; though too distant for his automatic weapons to have
more than a scattering effect upon the enemy force, it was
still vulnerable to the American artillery fires which could
be massed at his call.
Asfaw switched on his radio to call Battalion. By some fluke
in those first minutes as the game opened, it wouldn't cut
through. He spat in disgust at a technical failure which, seen
in retrospect, was clearly a blessing in disguise. The whole pat-
tern of this strange fight developed out of the accidental cir-
cumstance that during the next half-hour, the Chinese felt
The Incredible Patrol
The attack on Yoke and Uncle. By the time the outposts were in-
vaded, the patrol was fully enveloped.
free to extend their maneuver, and Asfaw, being without radio
contact, had to keep telling himself that he had been sent
forth to capture prisoners.
In that time, the body confronting him rapidly swelled to
two platoons, but still did not move. That meant that close
to 100 men would be opposing his group of 15. That was fair
enough. So he crawled along the ditch cautioning his men to
maintain silence and retain fire until he gave the word. It was
When at last the Chinese moved toward him, it was not
in columns, but in V-shape like a flight of wild geese, with
240 Pork Chop Hill
the point inarching directly toward the apex of the ditch.
AH of this time Asfaw had been concentrating attention on
the enemy directly to his front. Now as he turned his gaze
toward the files at the far ends of the V, he caught what all
along his eyes had missed. Five hundred yards to his left, an-
other Chinese company, marching single file, had passed his
flanks and was advancing directly on Outpost Yoke. He looked
to his right. Another body of the same size had outflanked
him and was marching against the ridge seating First Com-
pany. With that, he saw the problem as a whole. He was in
the middle of a Communist battalion launched in a general
attack. Its grand deployment was in the shape of an M and
the V-shaped body advancing on his ditch was simply a sweep
which tied together the two assault columns.
By now they were within 200 yards of him and the column
on his left was almost at the foot of Yoke. His radio was still
out. To his immediate rear was an earth mound perhaps 10
feet high. Thinking that the mound might cause interdiction,
he moved leftward along the ditch, whispering to his men
to stand steady and testing his radio every few feet.
The eight Chinese forming the point of the V were within
10 yards of the ditch when Asfaw yelled, "Tekuse!" (fire).
He already had arranged it that the fire from his two flanks
would cross so that both sides of the V would be taken in
enfilade. The eight-man point was cut down as by a scythe.
It was a rifle job. The two wings which followed at a distance
of 15 yards lost another dozen men to the BARs before the
surprised Chinese could recoil and go flat. At that moment
Asfaw's radio sparked and he raised a friendly answer. This
was his message as entered in the journal, "The enemy came.
I stopped them. Now they surround me. I want artillery on
"White Right" meant the ground to Asfaw's left and rear.
The Incredible Patrol 241
Their ranks being unable to use map coordinates, the Ethi-
opians achieved artillery fire control by blocking out in colors
the map areas where they were likely to need help. Thus,
they simply called for fire on "Blue Left" or "Red Right,"
etc. In his own hour of emergency, Asfaw was ignoring the
force to his front, hoping that he would still be in time to
shatter the columns moving against Yoke and Uncle.
No sooner had he given the direction than he saw the flat-
tened company in his foreground start skirmishers around his
left flank. He felt this was the beginning of an envelopment.
Still, he did not amend his fire request. Instead, he shifted
more of his men leftward in the ditch, figuring that with
grazing fire he could slow the movement. As he said, "By then
I had steadied and was enjoying it."
In three minutes, the American barrage fell right where
Asfaw had wanted it. Illuminating shells from the 155$ began
to floodlight the valley. By their glare, Asfaw could see the
killing rounds biting into the column, killing some Chinese,
scattering others. But he could also see figures in silhouette
moving against Yoke's skyline and he guessed that the enemy
had penetrated the works, which he reported on radio.
So he was just a bit too late for a perfect score. The small-
arms fire all about him had made imperceptible to him that
the Chinese artillery had massed fires against Yoke and the
big ridge almost coincidentally with the opening of his own
engagement It was a real clobber. Within the space it takes
to tell it, all wires were cut and the men were forced back into
On Yoke, 2nd Lieut. Bezabib Ayela and his 56 men had
heard the first volley of Asfaw's skirmish. But it sounded far
away. The impression it made was swiftly erased when the
enemy artillery deluged their own hill. Both of Ayela's radios
were hit and his field phone went dead. Ayela moved from
242 Pork Chop Hill
post to post crying "Berta!" (standby), but for all the noise,
he had no forewarning of what was coming.
Realization came when three red flares cut the night above
Yoke's rear slope. Ayela ran that way along the trench, know-
ing they had been hand-fired by the enemy. At the rear para-
pet, he could hear voices chattering from downslope. Yoke's
rear was lighted by a searchlight beamed from the battalion
ridge. Raising himself to the embankment, Ayela could see at
least a squad of Chinese working up through the rocks not
more than 30 yards away.
Cpl. Ayelow Shivishe was with him and survived to tell
about it. Within call of Ayela were thirteen riflemen and one
machine gunner, covering the backslope, but all in the wrong
spot to see the approach. Before Ayela could either fire or cry
out, he was drawn back the way he had come by the sounds
of shooting and a piercing scream right behind him. Two
squads of Chinese had come up the side of Yoke, killed a
BAR man, and jumped into the main trench.
Ayela ran for them rifle in hand. In full stride he was blown
up by a bomb an ordinary grenade with TNT shaped around
it, used by the Communists to clean out bunkers. Shivishe
went flat in the trench and emptied his Mi into the enemy
group. He saw three men drop. Then he knew he had been
wrong in wasting time that way. The hill was leaderless
though no one else knew it. Shivishe ran the other way around
the trench to tell Sgt. Maj. Awilachen Moulte that he was
in command. As he made the turn, the Chinese at the rear
slope came over the parapet and were in the trench. But not
unopposed. The machine gunner, Pvt. Kassa Misgina, had
heard the noise and rushed to the breach. He cut down the
first three men. Then two things happened right together:
his gun jammed and an enemy grenade got him through both
legs. Deep wounds, they didn't jar his fighting rhythm.
The Incredible Patrol 243
Misgina passed the gun back to a rifleman, yelling to him to
get it freed. He then grabbed a box of grenades and, return-
ing to the step where Ayela had been those few seconds, re-
sumed the fight to block the rear portal. Reasoning that if he
kept them ducking for cover they couldn't rush, he stood on
the parapet and let fly.
None of this ordeal was known to Asfaw down in the valley
or to the higher commands tucked away among the high
ridges. But unlike every other actor in the drama, Asfaw alone
could see all parts of the big picture. From his place in the
ditch, he had witnessed the enemy's grand deployment. Also,
he knew that the observers on the high ground had no such
advantage, and due to the interposition of the lower ridges,
could catch only fragmentary glimpses of the developing ac-
tion. When his eyes told him that the artillery dropped on
Yoke's forward slope had effectively shattered the reserves of
the Chinese column there, his reason replied that the hills
masked that fact to everyone else.
Having already concluded that his task was to destroy the
Chinese battalion by use of artillery, and realizing that he
only was in position to regulate fires so that there would be
no "overkilling," Asfaw saw clearly that a halfway success
along either flank must finally doom his patrol. Driven back,
the survivors would converge within the draw which was his
escape route to the rear. There they would re-enforce the
company which was moving around his left flank. From that
side, the ditch provided no protection.
For fifteen minutes, he had watched the artillery stonk the
Chinese on the lower slope of Yoke while doing nothing
about the enemy column attacking First Company's ridge.
The reason was that the latter force had made slower progress
and was still toiling toward the hill. During the same interval
the Chinese platoons to his front had continued the crawl
The Incredible Patrol 245
around his left flank and were now even with his position. He
took another look at the enemy's solid column on his own
right rear: it was just 50 yards short of the main incline. At
that point he gave his direction, calling for the fire to be
placed where it would catch the attack head-on. It was de-
livered "on the nose/' The column attacking First Company
began to dissolve and recoil toward him.
In this manner, while his withdrawal route was still open,
he made his decision to fight it out on the original line. Here
was a youth having his first experience under fire. But the role
he had voluntarily accepted made requisite a sense of timing
rarely found in a division commander. The Chinese nearest
him continued to extend their outflanking maneuver; he but
shifted a few more riflemen to the left to slow them with
On Yoke, Sergeant Major Moulte's first act after taking
command was to run to Ayela's body to make certain he was
dead. Two enlisted men had been felled by the same bomb
which killed the lieutenant Moulte yelled for stretcher bear-
ers. Then, gathering six men and passing each an armful of
grenades, he swung along the trench toward the front of Yoke
on the heels of the Chinese group that had entered the works
after killing Ayela. It was a sneak movement, the men moving
silently and in a crouch, with one scout five yards to the front.
Surprise was complete. Perhaps 35 to 40 yards beyond, the
scout gave an arm signal, hand out, pointing the direction
for the grenade shower. The explosions came dead center
amid the enemy group. Some Chinese were killed. Others
scrambled for the parapet or tried to hide next the sandbag
superstructure of the bunkers. Moulte saw at least six Chinese
in clear silhouette as they climbed up from the trench wall.
He was carrying a BAR. But he didn't fire a shot He said
later, "I don't know why; I just didn't think of it/' (This
246 Pork Chop Hill
same aberration occurs much too frequently among GI fight-
ers.) Ordering others in his party to carry on and hunt down
the invaders in detail, Moulte dojibled back to see how things
were going at the rear slope. By then, the wounded Misgina's
machine gun had become freed, and with that weapon, he
was still holding the portal, supported by one BAR man.
Looking downslope, Moulte counted ten dead Chinese in
front of Misgina's gun. Beyond them, he could count at least
thirty of the enemy among the rocks. They became revealed
momentarily as they grenaded upward. But the distance was
too great and the bombs exploded among their own dead.
At that point the action was taken out of Moulte's hands
for reasons requiring a brief recapitulation. Because of broken
communications, Asfaw's fight had been underway thirty
minutes before Battalion knew the patrol was in serious
trouble. Asfaw's first radio message had gone to the platoon
of First Company on Uncle and his call for artillery on Yoke
had perforce bypassed Battalion because First Company's
radio went temperamental at the wrong moment. As relayed
from Outpost Uncle, the message taken by Capt. Addis Aleu,
the battalion 82, was merely a brief warning, "Main move-
ment against Yoke ... fire White Right/ 7 Then the Uncle
radio cut out and Battalion CP could only guess about de-
But from his hilltop on OP 29, First Company's com-
mander, Capt. Behanu Tariau could eyewitness the skirmish-
ing on Yoke's rear slope. He had received the relayed' message
that the patrol had engaged; it came to him from Uncle dur-
ing the period when First Company could no longer raise
Battalion. Then for fifteen minutesthe critical period when
Moulte was rallying his men to repel boarders his own radio
cut out. His anxieties mounted because of his helplessness. By
the searchlight's glare he could see Chinese massing against
The Incredible Patrol 247
Yoke's back door but he was in touch with no one. When
quite suddenly his radio cut through again, he told 2nd Lieut.
William W. DeWitt, his artillery forward observer, to hit
Yoke directly with VT (proximity fuse) fire and illuminating
shell. The order was passed upward to Lieut. Col. Joseph S.
Kimmitt: 'Tire Flash Yoke Three/' Five minutes later Yoke
was under a fierce rain of hot steel. The effect of the fire was
to drive Moulte's men back to their bunkers for protection
while transfixing the Chinese in the open. There was thirty
minutes of this. Then Tariau asked for a curtain barrage on
both sides of Yoke to box in the enemy survivors. He pon-
dered extending the barrage to across the forward slope, then
rejected the idea, apprehensive that Asfaw's men might be
falling back on Yoke.
On that score, he might have spared himself worry. Asfaw
was still sitting steady in the ditch and enjoying it. By now
the Chinese who had been to his front had completed the
half-circle and were spread across his rear. Their skirmish
line, a lean 100 yards from him, had already been joined by
the first stragglers retreating from the fires on Yoke, Uncle
and First Company's hill. His big moment was at hand, when
having nailed his flag to the mast, he would now win or lose
it all. To Uncle, he gave the message, relayed from there to
Captain Tariau and from him to the artillery, "Fire Blue
If his guess was right and the fire was accurate, Blue Right
would crush the Chinese to his rear and fall just short of his
own position. There was a suspense of two minutes. Then the
barrage dropped dead on target, braying the enemy line
from end to end. He kept the artillery on Blue Right for ten
minutes; when it lifted, there was no more fire from his fore-
ground or immediate rear.
But it had been, and still remained, the closest kind of
248 Pork Chop Hill
thing. At the moment when Asfaw asked for Blue Right, his
own patrol was wholly out of ammunition, save for the
cartridges in the magazines of three Mis. The fragments of
the two main enemy columns continued to drift back toward
him. He knew that the patrol's survival from that point on
would pivot on the radio and the accuracy of his call to the
At last fortune rode wholly with him. The fight continued
on these terms for the next two hours, with no firing from
the patrol. There were times when the Chinese, rebounding
from the two outposts, then regrouping, got within 50 yards
of the ditch. Blue Right never failed him. There were also
times when he asked and got barrage fire on all four sides
of his patrol, thereby to close the enemy escape routes lead-
ing to T-Bone Hill.
By four o'clock in the morning the battlefield was at last
quiet and Asfaw could see no sign of a live enemy. The patrol
arose and stretched, satisfied that it had done a good night's
work. Asfaw radioed the message, "Enemy destroyed. My men
are still unhurt. We have spent our last bullet/' Being now
unarmed, the patrol expected a recall.
What came back proved with finality that Ethiopians pre-
fer to fight the hard way. This was Captain Aleu's message to
Asfaw: "Since you have won and are unhurt and the enemy is
finished, you are given the further mission of screening the
battlefield, examining bodies for documents and seeking to
capture any enemy wounded."
That task, which entailed another four to five miles of
marching, preoccupied the patrol for the next two hours. The
light was already full and the bird chorus was in full song
when I met them as they re-entered the main line. Asfaw went
briefly into the statistics of the fight. On the ground within
150 yards of the ditch he had counted 73 dead Chinese. On
The Incredible Patrol 249
the slopes of Yoke and within the trenches were 37 more
enemy bodies. There were other bodies among the paddies
forward of Uncle, still not counted. But assuming the usual
battle ratio of four men wounded for every one mortally hit,
the score said that he had effectively eliminated one Chinese
As a feat of arms by a small body of men, it was matchless.
No other entry in the book of war more clearly attests that
miracles are made when a leader whose coolness of head is
balanced by his reckless daring becomes attended by a few
steady men. Victory came not because of the artillery but
because Asfaw believed in it, willed it, then planned it.
But as the story unfolded, its significance transcended the
importance of this one small field. On a vastly reduced scale,
we had witnessed the prevue of great battle in the future, as
it must be staged, and as its risks, decisions and movements
must become regulated, if the field army is to endure against,
and with the use of, atomic weapons.
What we heard fired the imagination. Asfaw's patrol be-
came a combat team riding armored into enemy country, too
small and elusive to be a profitable atomic target, large enough
to block and compel the enemy to extend his deployment.
So doing, it would perforce make use of the most advan-
tageous earth cover possible. Then, having developed the sit-
uation, from the vortex of action, it would call on the big
lighting to strike all around. At no point would its force be
any better than its nerve and its command of communications.
Done by an Ethiopian second lieutenant, it is a case study
for generals pondering the possibilities of the war of tomor-
JL ROM THE MASS OF HILL 172, WHICH WAS PART OF THE MAIN
line at the extreme left of the division sector, three hogbacks
ran roughly parallel toward the river. Hill 172 was generously
proportioned and a full infantry battalion could stand guard
The hogbacks were called "fingers" because they directly
abutted the big hill. But they were in fact transverse subridges
set perpendicularly to the American fire front. The banks of
the river and the extreme ends of the hogbacks were no-man's
country though the outposts from both sides pressed close
enough to oversee the river trench in daylight. Deep-scored
valleys, each having its small stream and complex of paddy
fields, separated the hogbacks.
The graduated descent of the hogbacks, their fairly smooth
and reasonably straight-running crests marked by well-beaten
paths leading to the disputed ground, invited vigorous patrol
action. They were like so many staircases permitting a com-
fortable approach to the danger zone where the Communist
enemy was most likely to be found after dark. The terrain
features on his side of the river having an almost identical
character, his patrolling was not less vigorous.
With the river serving as a kind of neutral buffer, the game
played by both sides was to maneuver down to its embank-
ments, set up a deadfall and then wait hopefully. It was like
252 Pork Chop Hill
animal trapping, with man as the trapper, the bait and the
The bottoms of the feeder valleys had a well-scrubbed look,
but the untended slopes of the hogbacks were matted with
thicket, flowering shrubs and stunted pine. When this growth
was in full leaf, it limited observation from the crest line and
was a great advantage to the side which could move most
In mid-May, 1953, the river rose to near-flood stage after
three day-long rains. In front of the hogback on the right was
a ford where the water ran not more than knee-deep. It was a
logical deduction that if the enemy came at all, he would
advance via the ford.
Second Battalion of 3ist Regiment, which had been sitting
comfortably on Hill 172, thought long and hard about the
ford, and worked up a tentative plan. It called for sending a
strong patrol to the valley bottom and rigging an ambush
which directly covered the water passage. The shore on the
American side next the ford was thick with dead cedar stumps.
Riflemen could use them for concealment. Machine guns
from the heights directly above the ford could protect the
rear of the patrol. This reasoning disposed of the argument
against setting an ambush on low ground.
Second Battalion moved from Hill 172 before it could make
the experiment. On taking over Hill 172, First Battalion in-
herited the plan and decided to modify it To Maj. William
M. Calnan it seemed that the rigid ambush over the ford put
too many eggs in one basket. He favored sending a patrol
down the hogback to the left of the ford, and after the patrol
had prowled the nose and base of the hogback to make cer-
tain that its flank was clear, it would then shift rightward
and go into position at the ford.
At that stage of planning, Regiment intervened. If Calnan's
Hexed Patrol 253
idea was good, then it was worth amplifying. Two strong
patrols should be sent. One out of Charley Company, num-
bering twenty men, would go to the ford where lay the main
chance for action. The supporting patrol out of Baker Com-
pany would police the finger where Calnan had intended to
make only a brief reconnaissance. By going out earlier and
staying later than the Charley patrol, the Baker patrol would
serve it as a fortifying backstop during its hours of greatest
Artillery and mortar fires were plotted for both patrols. The
Charley patrol would take along two light machine guns and
two sniperscopes. Two additional machine guns would be put
in the battalion outguard line so sighted that they could give
Charley patrol a covering fire should real trouble develop.
As for Baker patrol, its power and protection were made
lighter because its mission was reckoned to be safer, simpler.
It had conventional strength for Korean operations of this
kind fifteen men under a second lieutenant. Just as conven-
tionally, the patrol was to be split when it reached the far
end of the hogback. Three hundred yards short of the river
the "support" group of six men under a sergeant would go
into a defensive perimeter. The nine men with the lieutenant
would advance to the final promontory directly overlooking
the river. If either party was attacked, the other could sustain
it in less than four minutes.
The last half-mile of the hogback along which Baker patrol
was to advance was interrupted by three rather bald and suffi-
ciently spacious limestone knobs, which for operational pur-
poses had been named King, Queen and Jack. The support
would tarry at Queen. The "fix" element under the lieutenant
would advance to Jack, 300 yards beyond. There was no ob-
struction to clear observation between the two points. Queen
Knob was about 35 feet higher than Jack, which would
254 Pork Chop Hill
greatly advantage the two BARs and the light machine gun
with the support group in protecting the fix's rear. The peak
of Jack rose a good 200 feet above the valley bottom. Its base
nudged the river and from there to the cap its densely cov-
ered slopes were of such steepness that the climb was difficult
even in daylight.
The operation was set for the night of 14 May. That after-
noon, Baker Company assembled for a ceremony. Pvt. Ran-
dolph Mott was decorated with the Silver Star for gallantry
and strong soldierly conduct in the defense of Dale Outpost,
one month earlier. Attending the formation was SFC Robert
C. Reasor who had already been given his Silver Star for
superb personal conduct in the same fight.
Both were going out on the patrol that night, Mott because
he had been assigned, Reasor because he had volunteered.
These circumstances were in direct contrast with the moods
of the two men. Mott was in high spirits and so relaxed that
he grinned broadly when the medal was pinned. Reasor was
grim-faced and his talk was morbid.
Baker's sixteen men moved out at 2030, hitting the trail in
column. All hands were armed with four grenades apiece and
carbines with sixty rounds apiece, except for the two BAR
men with the support group and the one BAR man with the
fix, who carried twelve full magazines. Via the circuit which
tied all of the operators together, Battalion, Company and
the outguard posts had full knowledge of its progress as the
The patrol moved along very slowly. That was because
Mott, who was serving as point man, also carried the sniper-
scope. The patrol dressed on Mott, and being a careful opera-
tor, he stopped every few feet for an infrared sighting on the
bushes and other likely hiding places in his foreground. The
sides of the King-Queen-Jack finger were well pocked with
Hexed Patrol 255
small caves of such varying size as to conceal anything from
a half-squad to a platoon. Mott stopped at each entrance and
tried to screen the interior with his glass. No one had told
him that the sniperscope was useless for such a purpose.
The support group reached Queen Knob at 2049 and set up
immediately. From there to Jack Knob in daylight would be a
short five-minute walk. But because of Motfs excessive cau-
tion, the fix group took 69 minutes to get to Jack.
One advantage went with the position. Its crown was al-
ready slotted with a circle of shallow rifle pits, dug by the
Chinese during one of their forays. The men fitted them-
selves into these holes, after Ferris had ordered their conven-
tional deployment. Pvt. Alvin A. Bolf was put on the left
flank, covering toward the river with his BAR. On the op-
posite side were Pvt. Sherman Cagle and Sgt. Chester F.
Hamilton, armed with carbines. The light machine gun was
mounted on the forward slope, Pfc. James F. Cooper handling
the gun, with Pvt. Lester LeGuire assisting him. Cpl. Dee
Thompson covered the rear with a carbine. In the center was
the "reserve/' 2nd Lieut. Roland R. Ferris, Pvt. William H.
Reed, who was handling the sound power phone for him,
and Mott, with his sniperscope.
For three hours, the men maintained a motionless vigil in
uneventful silence: The only active figure was Mott who, at
five-minute intervals, checked the area through the sniper-
scope, moving in a circle around the perimeter. During the
three hours, he saw and heard nothing. Ferris called the com-
pany every fifteen minutes to make the same report: "Nega-
At exactly 0100, Lieut. Ernest Clark O'Steen of Baker Com-
pany started to lay down the phone to light a cigaret. He felt
sure that the cast had missed and the night would prove rou-
tine. Private Reed had just told him, "There's nothing doing
256 Pork Chop Hill
and I think we'll soon be coming back." The line was still
open as he lowered the instrument Then he heard Reed's
voice screaming, "My God we're hit!" O'Steen asked, "What
is it? What is it?" but the line had gone dead.
Surprise had been complete. Not one warning sound had
been heard by the men under Ferris. From 20 yards away, a
burp gunner lying prone on the slope opened fire on Private
Bolf. The burst ripped him through the chest. In falling he
cried, 'They've killed me."
That opening volley was the signal loosing the attack
against the knob by approximately twenty Chinese who had
crawled undetected halfway up the slope of Jack. The gun-
ner, obviously the leader, had yelled a command as he fired.
Immediately, from three sides of the knob, three or four other
burp guns joined fire, and from front and rear of the knob,
grenades fell among the defenders. Within one second after
Bolf died, his comrades were under full pressure from all
Ferris was given time only to empty his carbine down the
slope. The men heard him yell to Cooper, "Get the machine
gun going!" As the carbine emptied, he reached for his pistol.
Then four or five bullets hit him in the upper body, still not
killing him. He yelled to Cooper, "Get the gun going!" just
as he sagged. A potato masher landed between his legs and
exploded. He gave a gurgling sound and died.
Knee to knee with Ferris at that moment, Private Reed
picked up the radio and started crawling across the knob,
figuring that his place was with Hamilton, who was now in
Private Mott threw three grenades toward the river. He saw
no targets but he guessed that the bomb that killed Ferris had
come from that direction, and he wanted to do something
Hexed Patrol 257
Yelling, "I can't stand the noise of those God-damned
Chinks!" Private Cagle cut loose with his carbine, firing down
the rear slope. By chance, and not because he saw the man,
his opening burst cut down a Chinese burp gunner who had
charged to within 10 yards of him. There were two others
behind him and they also went down.
Reed made it to Hamilton, who had engaged with his car-
bine side by side with Cagle, and had already fired two of
his three magazines. Reed asked, "Can I get into your fox-
hole?" Hamilton said, "Try it" But when he wedged in, the
hole was so cramped that it was impossible to work weapons.
So Reed got out. As he emerged onto the open, he was hit
around the shoulders by several burp-gun bullets. Whether he
died then, the others did not know. Within a few seconds, a
white phosphorus grenade struck directly on him and ex-
ploded. His body was slowly incremated while the fight con-
Reed had left his radio in the hole. Cagle picked it up and
called Sergeant Reasor of the support group, saying, "We're
hit hard and Ferris is dead. Please come help us." Reasor re-
plied, "I'll be right there."
Privates Cooper and LeGuire on the LMG weren't doing
very well. Cooper had test-fired the gun just before leaving the
MLR and it had worked perfectly. Now, whether because the
gun had become dirty or anxiety had sapped his fingers of
dexterity, he couldn't get the gun started.
On the other side of the knob, Private Thompson, a colored
soldier, had first reacted to the situation by standing in the
clear and running from one point to another to fire downslope
with his carbine. But he quit that quickly because of the
bullet swarm around his head and returned to his foxhole.
He had heard Ferris cry out to Cooper to get the LMG going.
258 Pork Chop Hill
Since the gun was still silent, he thought it was because the
crew had been hit.
So Thompson quit his foxhole and crawled across the knob
to get to the LMG. Three times during the crawl he was hit
by grenades. The fragments cut deep into his neck, chest and
limbs, wounding him nigh fatally. Still he dragged himself
along. Mott, who watched him make the journey, reckoned
that it took Thompson five minutes to get from his foxhole
to the gun.
When he made it, Cooper at last had the gun going, and
though it never did respond normally, Cooper fired 463 rounds
during the fight. Thompson propped himself beside Cooper,
swaying back and forth from weakness, but still firing down-
slope with his carbine, to protect Cooper and LeGuire on
their open flank.
Mott had also gone to the LMG. Looking downslope
through the sniperscope, he saw five Chinese scrambling up-
ward, not more than 30 yards away. One man in the center
carried a box of grenades. Mott yelled, "Fire with me!" and
pulled the trigger. Cooper and Thompson turned weapons to
the same spot. Through his glass, Mott saw the five Chinese
pitch forward and lie still.
For the next twenty minutes, the fight went on that way.
The six Americans sat there, working their weapons against
the enveloping darkness, seeing no more live targets, but
maintaining the fire. Midway, a grenade exploded in Hamil-
ton's foxhole, wounding him around the shoulders and head.
He yelled, "I'm hit but I'm still shooting/' The effort was
just enough to hold the Chinese back. Twice they seemed to
come on at a charge, as the defenders judged by the crescendo
in their screaming. Both times the assault withered under the
blast from the knob. Then they pressed a third time and were
again driven back. With that recession, Hamilton cried: "I'm
Hexed Patrol 259
almost out of ammunition; we got to get to hell out of here/'
It was time.
What meanwhile had happened to the support group?
Sergeant Reasor, who was handling communications, got
Lieutenant O'Steen on the phone within seconds after the
fire fight started. He said to O'Steen, "I think the fix is being
directly hit and Fm sure the Chinks have cut in between us
and the MLR." At that moment the sound power line went
out. Reasor then got on the radio to O'Steen but the contact
was maintained by Reasor just long enough for him to say,
"Now we're surrounded/ 7
Only O'Steen heard him say it. The other members of the
support, noting merely that Reasor was busy talking to the
rear, were mystified by his hesitation. They had heard the
burp guns open fire on the fix element, but they could also see
machine-gun flashes from the far side of the river. The noises,
close up and distant, were confusing. The men were not alto-
gether sure that the forward group was being directly pressed
and they waited for Reasor, the old hand, to say something.
He did not tell them about the call from Cagle nor did he
tell O'Steen. Pvt. Paul F. O'Brien grew so concerned about
the support's inaction that he started down the forward slope
of Queen with the object of reconnoitering Jack. Right then
Reasor called him back, spun him back toward his foxhole
and said, "We've got to stay compact/' But no one in the
group had seen any Chinese or heard one suspicious sound,
apart from the fire forward. Reasor had told them not to fire
until he said so, and he never gave the order. His messages to
O'Steen remained as inscrutable as his conduct
Ten minutes passed. A few "overs" from the fight on Jack
had plunked into the dirt of Queen. Other than that, nothing
had happened. Then Reasor said, "We'll have to go back to
the MLR in the same order that we came," And that was
Group movements in the first attempt to rig an ambush along the
King-Queen-Jack Finger. The Ambush Patrol did not become engaged.
Hexed Patrol 261
what they did. The other five men fell in, and the support
trekked back uphill during the same minutes that the fight
on Jack was wearing to its dreary conclusion. It was a fifteen-
minute retreat and during the climb neither Sergeant Droney
nor any other soldier thought to ask Reasor what he had on
his mind. The lack of protest in his comrades is no more ex-
plainable than the aberration in Reasor, a brave but worn
fighter, so mixed up emotionally from his ordeal on Dale
Outpost that he volunteered to stay two extra days in Korea
to attend this last patrol.
Instead of returning via the finger, the six survivors on
Queen slipped rightward off the knob, reckoning that the Chi-
nese had barred the back door. Cagle and Cooper, carrying
Thompson, who was unconscious from loss of blood, went
first, with Hamilton limping along. Mott and LeGuire trailed
behind, Mott weighted by his sniperscope and the LMG>
which he had determined to bring out "because it is such a
damned good gun/'
Haltingly, pausing every few yards to rest, they started up-
ward through the terraced rice paddies which cover the draw
lying northeast of the finger. For perhaps 100 yards, it seemed
that they had gotten away clean. Then from the paddy em-
bankment toward which they marched, a .30 machine gun
opened fire on them. There were just two bursts.
From the first one, a bullet got Hamilton. Cagle had
crawled forward to throwing distance of the bank. His gre-
nade fell short but the Chinese picked up the gun and ran.
Hamilton could still walk, though he needed arm support.
So he fell back on Mott and LeGuire.
They got to the last paddy where the draw ended and the
ridge began. Then from the height above, fire from a .50
machine gun searched the paddy and drove them to the cover
of the banks. It was random fire from one of Baker's own
262 Pork Chop Hill
guns. No one atop the hill had imagined that the patrol
would attempt to exit via the draw.
What stopped the fire was that two lights from the bat-
talion's 6omm mortars broke suddenly directly over the heads
of Mott and his party. They stood up in the clear. Men mount-
ing the outguard posts halfway up the ridge saw them. Back
to O'Steen went the message, "Hold all fire! Some of our
men are coming in. We see three of them/'
Because of doubt about what had happened in the valley,
Major Calnan at Battalion had already alerted 2nd Lieut
John J. Tierney of Able Company. He was to take his Second
Platoon, advance to Queen and then try to screen Jack. He
called his CP, got cut into the hot loop, and heard for the
first time that Ferris' party had probably been "beaten up/'
He asked, "But what happened to the support?" The answer
was supplied by his own first squad leader, Sergeant Taylor,
who at that moment entered the bunker to report, "I see a
group of Americans coming up the finger; I'm sure it's the
support from the Baker patrol." It was then 0200.
Reasor arrived breathless. His support group had passed
through an outguard on the last leg of the climb. Mott had
reached another outguard post almost at the same time. The
word had gone over the loop, "three Americans left on Jack,"
and Reasor had heard it before reaching Tierney.
When he caught his breath, he said, "Will you please call
Baker Company and tell them I've got to go back? There are
three men left on Jack. It's my job to get them." While Tier-
ney was phoning for authority to include Reasor's party in
his own patrol, Reasor spoke to the men he had just led up-
hill, saying, "Now we've got to go back. We've got to help
the fix/' Still, such was the high excitement of the night that
neither Tierney nor the rest of the patrol was impressed by
his irrational behavior. O'Steen might have been inclined to
Hexed Patrol 263
question it, but then O'Steen believed from what he had been
told on the phone that Reasor had been caught in the same
trap as Ferris and had broken out.
O'Steen agreed by phone that it was all right to send
Reasons party back. But Major Calnan felt there was no
longer need for Tierney to move his full strength out immedi-
ately. Instead, Tierney was to detach one squad to beef-up
Reasor's party, which would go posthaste to Jack Knob, and
Tierney would follow as promptly as he could get the platoon
in order and the company could make the extra stretch to
cover the hole he left behind.
Several hitches developed. Reasor, in departing, picked up
Tierney's radio, and, dropping his own useless Peter 6 on
Tierney's lap, said, "You can hold onto this damned thing."
It is not surprising that this exit left the lieutenant speechless.
His remaining two squads had already been routed from the
bunkers and were standing at alert in the main trench. Lieut.
William D. Hughes called Tierney to say that he could go
when ready. Tierney said, "But now I have no radio/* Hughes
got one from the communications section and started it out
by runner. Enroute, both the runner and the box were hit by
a mortar burst. It took Hughes forty minutes to learn what
had happened and to send another radio. In the interim, two
of Tierney's outguards came in to tell him that their phone
lines had been cut by mortar fire. Tierney gave the outguards
a fresh doughnut of wire from which to make the repair,
realizing as he did so that he might be running the patrol
short. Ten minutes later the radio arrived and he reassembled
his force. In this way one hour was lost. He still had heard
nothing from Reasor. It was 0300 before he felt free to start.
So he led his platoon down the finger at a run, fearful that he
already was too late to help the other patrol.
The column got to King Knob in less than six minutes. The
264 Pork Chop Hill
wire was running out, and there was just time to set up the
sound power phone before Tierney's worst thoughts were con-
firmed. From the thicket just in front of them came sounds as
of men crashing through heavy foliage. Then a voice
screamed, "For Christ's sakes, are you GIs? For Christ's sakes,
tell me, are you GIs?" Before anyone could answer, two fig-
ures reeled out of the bush, stumbled a few yards and col-
lapsed flat on the trail.
It was Sgt. John H. Droney, of Reasor's patrol, and the
medic, Private Naparez. Droney was shot through the wrist,
shoulder and buttocks. Naparez bled from a number of super-
ficial grenade wounds. Droney looked up at Tiemey and said,
"You gave us only green men and they scattered all over
hell/' Tierney questioned him about what had happened. For
the time being it was useless. Droney's teeth were chattering
and his effort at speech produced only a mumble.
Had Droney been more articulate, he still could not have
explained much to Tierney. He and the others under Reasor
had once again followed mechanically a man who moved
as if in a trance. The experience had so bewildered them that
when crisis overtook the group it had already morally disin-
Reasor had led them only in the sense that he had gone first
as the column trotted to its rendezvous. After his outburst at
Tierney's CP, he had said not a word. The men knew only
that they were going back; they had no idea what they were
expected to do. The other fourteen trailed after Reasor si-
Come to his former position at Queen Knob, Reasor walked
on. The group got perhaps another 35 yards. The saddleback
just beyond Queen was now thick with smog. Mist rising
from the valley bottom had mingled with the smoke from the
brush fires atop the higher ridges. The smog had a sharp edge
Hexed Patrol 265
as if a curtain had been lowered on this part of the finger.
Reasor pulled up short on seeing it Then he leaned toward
the curtain, pointing with his finger and cupping the other
hand to his ear as if listening. He said nothing.
For perhaps two seconds the others stood behind Reasor,
motionless and waiting. Four riflemen stood abreast just to
his rear. Back of them, Pvt. Paul F. O'Brien, who was just
completing his first week at the front, and Pvt. Robert Beaver,
a BAR man, dropped to a crouch, not because they heard
anything but because they thought it safer. The two files
immediately to their rear followed their example. The others
Five seconds. From within the smog bank, and not more
than 15 yards in front of Reasor, a burp gun opened fire.
Whether he was killed by the opening volley is not known.
As of that moment he vanished from sight of the patrol. No
one heard him cry or noted his fall. He was missed in the
early searching of the area and was first carried MIA. Days
later his body was found in the brush halfway down the
knob. It was too late to determine how he had met his death,
As the gun cracked, O'Brien and Beaver fell sideways and
started rolling toward the slope of the saddle to escape the
line of fire. But in rolling they saw the four riflemen behind
Reasor cut down in a body. The burst had gotten each man
through the upper part of the body. The Chinese gunner had
gone flat after firing about twenty rounds. Beaver could hear
someone yelling, "The damned sons-of-bitches! The damned
O'Brien whispered to Beaver, "Why don't you fire?"
Beaver answered, "I can't. That pile of bodies is between us
and the Chink."
Grenades came in on them from out of the smog. Some
exploded lightly; others shook the earth around them. One
266 Pork Chop Hill
loosed a rock mass between the two men and sent Beaver
careening down the slope. O'Brien wondered whether to fol-
low him or to try to get at the burp gunner. He took out his
three grenades and crawled a few yards closer. But he did not
trust his arm and he was afraid that if he threw, his bombs
would explode among the American bodies.
Sergeant Droney, near the end of the column, had been
attempting a hopeless stand. Men were trying to break past
him and he was lashing out with hands and feet in an attempt
to stop them. O'Brien looked that way. He saw Droney
standing there, struggling violently to turn the other men
around. O'Brien heard him cry, "Where in hell are you going?
Where in hell are you going?" But the bag was already empty.
The last two men had just dodged past Droney. Then the
Chinese gunner turned his fire in that direction, and the burst
hit Droney and the last two runaways. That completed the
rout. One submachine gun and not more than twelve gre-
nades had done it. The Americans hadn't fired a shot.
O'Brien rolled downslope to Beaver. They did a semicircle
and came back on the trail some 30 yards to rearward. Both
men were armed with BARs. For a moment they discussed
whether to join the flight or have a go at the enemy gunner.
What decided them was the sudden appearance of Pvt Rey-
nald St. Pierre who had fallen beside the trail. He said, "I'm
hit. They got me in the foot. I can't walk."
O'Brien passed his weapon to Beaver. Then he picked up
St. Pierre piggyback and started uptrail. Beaver made the
climb walking backwards, so as to cover the other two men.
This, and the fact that he was trying to handle two BARs
in his first experience as a rearguard, gave the three-man re-
treat a unique flavor.
Of these details, Tierney, having arrived at King Knob and
met two survivors, still knew nothing. He judged from
Hexed Patrol 267
Drone/s hysteria that the patrol had been hard used. On
radio, he told the company to send litters down the finger
to pick up Droney and Naparez. Then he relieved Droney of
his grenades and the patrol again moved, going warily, with
its skirmishers spread well apart on both sides of the trail.
Halfway to Queen, Tierney again heard a movement in the
underbrush ahead. Six men staggered into view and then fell
flat when they saw Tierney's party. Concluding from their
reeling gait that they were all wounded, Tierney again called
the company, "Send six more litters/' One of the men mum-
bled over and over, "The sergeant's back there. We left the
sergeant. Somebody ought to get the sergeant/ 7 This was Pfc.
Walter P. Brooner who had been serving Reasor as point man.
Later he told a strange story about seeing Reasor cut down
by burp-gun fire only to fall on an exploding grenade which
blew him apart. But the other men said the Red Chinese did
not use grenades at the beginning. They thought Brooner had
suffered an hallucination. The failure of the screening patrols
to find Reasor's body deepened the mystery.
From that point forward, Tierney proceeded with maxi-
mum caution, fearing another ambush. The interval between
men was increased. Instead of going at a slow walk, the patrol
advanced by individual bounds, each man moving about 15
yards at a time.
But the method slowed their advance to a crawl and the
patrol got not more than 50 yards before it was checked by
the breaking of 6o-mm mortar flares directly overhead. In-
tended to help Tierney, the lights, through misdirection,
nearly ruined him. Able Company had been aiming for the
ford down in the valley; it missed by at least 350 yards. The
third flare came down directly on Tierney's head; at the last
second he threw up his hand to ward the blow. He was just too
late. The metal opened his scalp, knocked him cold and broke
268 Pork Chop Hill
two of his fingers, though he was not aware of the hand in-
jury until the patrol had ended.
In a few minutes, Tierney regained consciousness. Sergeant
Taylor was just saying to some of the other men, "What will
we do now that the lieutenant's hit?" Tierney gave the answer
by getting to his feet and resuming the march to Queen.
He found nothing at all on the knob. There were no dead
men and no signs that an action had taken place. So he called
for a flare between Queen and Jack; in these few minutes the
smog had vanished and visibility was good. It took a long
time and much trying to get the lights where he wanted them.
Still, nothing was revealed other than the peaceful-seeming
Since he had not been ordered to prowl Jack Knob, Tierney
called Company on radio, asking, "What do you want me to
do?" He got the order, "Proceed to Jack and look things over."
Tierney moved to a shallow trench on Queen and stopped
the patrol. He had decided to split the patrol, which was still
strung out over trail space. With him was the first squad
under Sergeant Taylor. Slightly behind him, he thought, was
Sergeant First Class Strauss and the second squad.
So he said to Taylor, "Crawl back and tell Strauss to hold
this knob and pare off three of his men to serve as rearguard/'
Taylor returned in ten minutes, saying, "Sir, Fm sorry but
there aren't any men back there." It was true. Despite all the
care exercised the patrol had broken in half.
So Tierney put it to Taylor to stay on Queen with half of his
squad and cover the route to the rear. He took the other half-
squad and moved on to Jack. From that point, he radioed
Able Company, "I am sitting on Jack with four men. No one
is shooting at me. There are dead Americans here but I can't
carry them back. Now what do you want me to do?"
That was at 0352. Tierney was told, "Return to the MLR
Hexed Patrol 269
and screen the area as you come back." He did his best to
comply, but it was a broad-backed finger and well covered
by undergrowth and thicket. The "screening of the area"
consisted of five men crawling single file up a poorly marked
trail just as fast as they could make it. Halfway to Queen they
were stopped by mortar fire coming in three-round salvos two
minutes apart and hitting just a few yards beyond them. Get-
ting his men off the trail and onto the slope, Tierney kept
them flattened there for twenty minutes until the hill became
They resumed crawling and got on past Queen Knob.
Private Dunlop, who had been serving as point man from the
moment of departing the main line, suddenly went flat be-
side the trail, aimed his carbine and cried, "Are you GI?"
Tierney crawled up next him. He could see a helmet project-
ing above a boulder just a few yards on beyond. Dunlop called
again: "Are you GI? Answer, dammit, or I'll shoot."
Back came a voice, "Don't shoot! Me ROK soldier." Then
two men got up from behind the boulder. They were two of
Tierney's own ROKs, the forward files in Strauss' squad. The
rest of the squad was strung out behind them. At the rear
was Sergeant Strauss, still unaware that Tierney and his party
had moved to Jack and returned. The two ROKs had been
told to maintain the contact On the final bound toward
Queen, they had watched Taylor's men move forward, and
had deliberately stalled in their tracks, thereby breaking the
patrol in half as it maneuvered into the danger zone. Asked
why, one of them said, "Me afraid."
First light was just breaking. Tierney marched his platoon
back to the MLR as rapidly as the fatigued state of the men
would permit. As they closed, he keeled over from loss of
blood and was carted to the dispensary to have his head
wound dressed. Although the patrol had not made contact,
270 Pork Chop Hill
it had been a relatively rough go for a youngster having his
first experience under fire after only six days in the company.
At 0515, 2nd Lieut. Laurence Dankel, of Able Company,
led still another patrol down the finger. In it were four men
from Able and four from Baker. Lieutenant O'Steen, count-
ing heads, reckoned that Baker was still missing seven men,
counting the losses on both Jack and Queen. Baker needed
Abie's help in making a final screening and recovering the
Daylight was arriving fast, and so the patrol was given a
WP smoke screen which in the end did more to confuse than
to protect it. When he arrived at Queen, Dankel thought he
already was standing on Jack, and so told the men. They acted
pooped and several of them sprawled flat and fell asleep while
he prowled the vicinity. Then the smoke cleared and he saw
that he was on the wrong knob. He started to Jack, not noting
that two of his men failed to follow.
Enemy machine-gun fire from the far side of the river raked
the forward knob as the patrol approached it. They crawled
the last 40 yards. Dankel quickly found Private Bolf s body,
and a second corpse, burned beyond recognition. (This was
Private Reed.) The carrying party moved out, three men to
each litter. That left Dankel alone on Jack in the moment
when he found Ferris' body lying in the shallow trench. Still
under fire, he lifted Ferris and made the portage back to
Queen unassisted, where the burden was shifted to the pair
who had slept. They were another hour in getting to the top
of the ridge. Dankel said, "I'll never do anything like this
During that night, the strong patrol out of Charley Com-
pany which had moved out on the right, with the object of
rigging a deadfall at the ford, was left in peace. Its members
saw the lights and heard the sounds of fire on their left. But
Hexed Patrol 271
such was the quiet in their immediate neighborhood that they
felt no alarm.
Yet the Chinese had contrived to maneuver around this
main ambush to twice ambush the smaller forces intended
only to backstop it.
FIRST LIGHT BROKE, WE GATHERED IN A COMMAND BUNKER
on a high ridge near the ruined village of Sokkagae, Korea.
It was 19 May, 1953. Except for the division commander,
all others present were members of the 3ist Infantry Regi-
ment, which has a unique record: it has never served so much
as one day inside the United States. Our purpose was to hold
an inquest. We wished to learn, if possible, how and why an
entire patrol of Americans had been killed with every man
dying in an identical manner.
Begun as a more or less routine debriefing of forces in an
operation which had gone badly for our side, it developed into
a hearing on a plain case of mass murder. Where death at the
hands of the enemy is a not unexpected incident in war, it
is still something new on the battlefield to engage an enemy
with a plot and purpose as diabolically conceived and as ter-
ribly executed as was the St. Valentine's massacre in Chicago.
Two American patrols had been sent out the night before.
It was my task to determine, through living witnesses, and
by physical proof, why one of them had not returned.
The patrol which had been annihilated had expected to
operate in relative safety. The patrol which had survived un-
scathed had intentionally been given a mission of great dan-
ger. Here was the paradox which from the beginning sug-
gested that the results came of a deliberate design by the Red
Doomed Patrol 273
First Battalion of the 3ist Regiment, like other infantry
along the main line, nightly patrolled down into the valley
which separated its ridge from enemy country. The object
in all such patrolling was to take prisoners and to keep check
on enemy movements.
To descend to the valley, the patrols normally moved via
the trails winding down the ridge fingers which projected into
the valley like so many flying buttresses. Arrived at the bot-
tom, the patrol would usually set up a defensive perimeter on
a likely knob to ambush or intercept any Communist party
moving toward the main line.
For control purposes, the knobs along the descending ridge
fingers were given names. Able Company of the 3ist Regi-
ment sat astride the ridge from which the finger marked by
Ace, King, Queen and Jack knobs tapered to the valley.
Four nights earlier a patrol from Able had descended all
the way to Jack Knob and there set up a defensive circle to
await the enemy. But the Red Chinese had proved too clever.
The American ambush had been counterambushed, caught
in a crossfire and almost destroyed, only three men escaping
That is why there happened to be two patrols on this par-
ticular night. The Americans were anxious to avoid being
caught once again in the same trap. And perhaps they re-
flected a bit too wishfully that their own side was just as
capable of playing the devious Red Chinese game.
Both the problem and the American resolve to whip it were
well put by Lieut. Jack L. Conn of Pasadena, Texas. This
tall, mild-mannered Longhorn was a veteran of seven months'
experience in the warfare of the stabilized front Conn speak-
ing: "I like to have a patrol leader on the line ten days before
I send him on patrol. But right now I haven't got one who's
been here that long. So with the green lieutenant, I try to send
274 Pork Chop Hill
along an old sergeant. That means a veteran of at least one
"Sometimes they act like footpads out therethe Red
Chinese. They latch onto our patrol when it leaves our lines
and just shadow it. They bird-dog it right into their own
works and out again. But they do nothing. Our men can't
see or hear them. They just sense that they're being shadowed.
It's sort of ghostly. At other times, they get in early, rig an
ambush and just sit there waiting for our men to make the
return journey. So we have to get smart after we hear that
whistle or birdcall a few times and are then showered with
hand grenades from both sides of the path. We get to going
out one path and returning by another. That's not a highly
original thought, but it's the best we can do when we're
bushers in the ambush league."
So changing pace, the Americans decided that a half-
strength patrol would be sent down the Ace-to-jack finger.
Only this time it would stop at Queen Knob, two-thirds along
the way to the bottom of the valley. It would have simply
an "alert" mission, meaning that it would not deliberately
engage or seek the enemy, but would stand by ready to help
At the same time a full-strength patrol would move down
the parallel finger fronting Baker Company. The patrol would
go all the way to the bottom, set up a defensive perimeter
and remain quiet The Baker finger was rightward of Abie's
position and its terminus was closer to enemy country. If the
Red Chinese were drawn back to the Ace-to-jack finger be-
cause of their earlier success, not only would they find the
lower knob unoccupied, but in transit, they would have to
cross Baker patrol's front.
This was the plan, and the movement into the valley by
the two patrols precisely followed it.
Doomed Patrol 275
From Baker Company went a patrol of twenty men under
Lieut. Benjamin L. Collins. Because the prospect for the Able
patrol was that it would sweat out nothing worse than a
night's exercise in ridge-climbing, it was cut to ten men
under command of a 21 -year-old corporal, Otis Alford.
Thus the preliminary moves toward the setting of the stage.
The drama itself is composed from the lines spoken by the
men who fought that night.
There are many Korean nights like this one during the late
spring. Along the crests of the higher ridges the air is clean
and the stars shine bright. As the sun goes down, mist rises
from the paddies in the bottoms and shortly thickens into
fog. From the top view, the scene is not formidable. The
valley below is a place of Ipst horizon.
Collins led his patrol out at ninety minutes before mid-
night. The march route was straight down the ridge finger,
and they did it single file. So that progress could be measured
accurately in the CP, the path of descent had been divided
into five check points, named in order, Champagne, Beer,
Rye, Scotch and Gin. It took forty minutes to reach Cham-
pagne, Collins knew by then that he would be bucking the
weather no less than the enemy. Visibility and the patrol were
together reaching bottom.
At Point Champagne, the patrol split, Collins leading half
the party forwawl to Beer, while the other half tarried at
Champagne so as to put 150 yards' distance between the two
parties during the move into enemy country. With Collins
was the "fix" element The "support" element was under Pvt
Loy J. Bearchild, an Indian who had volunteered for the
night's task because he had accidentally shot a sergeant that
afternoon and wished to square things.
Point Beer was marked by a tall pine, lone and conspicuous
276 Pork Chop Hill
amid the belt of scrub oak, sumac and jack pine which cov-
ered the lower abutments of the big ridge. As Collins came
abreast the tree, quite suddenly the fog curtain split, as if
taken by an updraft from the valley. Standing about 75 yards
away, forward and to his left, at the bottom of the draw be-
tween the two ridge fingers, he saw two men.
Before he could take a second look, or call anyone else's
attention, the fog closed again. He called his commander,
Lieut. E. H. Pedrick, by telephone, saying, "I think I saw two
men; I think they're enemy." Pedrick answered, "You must
be wrong; they must be from the other patrol/' Asked Collins,
"Why not call LP6 and find out?" Pedrick did. The men on
LP6 said they had seen nothing. Corporal Alford answered
that his men were on their assigned knob and hadn't moved.
As for signs of the enemy, Alford said, "Negative, no sweat,
Whether Collins was being tricked by his imagination, at
least his sensing of the night was in whole contrast to Alf ord's.
His ear was tuned to the sound of gravel slipping under his
men's feet and to the whisper of the breeze through the under-
growth. But there were other slight, unaccountable noises all
about him the breaking of twigs or the rustle of garments.
He felt the presence of an enemy almost close enough to him
to be touched.
Behind him, Bearchild was harboring the same thought,
but for different reasons. He leaned into the mist, sniffing;
later, he said, "I smelled them."
But again the fog played tricks. A clear shaft opened for a
few seconds between the two ridge fingers, giving Alford a
fleeting glance of Collins' men in silhouette. He so reported
by radio to Pedrick who concluded that if Alford had seen
Collins, then Collins earlier must have been looking at Alford.
Highly logical, but still wrong.
Doomed Patrol 277
When this information was relayed by Pedrick, Collins
stood still for an indecisive five minutes. It bothered him
badly that the danger he felt could still not be clearly ex-
pressed and that Pedrick was giving him too little credit
Finally, he said to his men, "Well move on to Rye."
On getting to that check point, he called Pedrick, asking,
"Does LP6 see us now?" After a minute or so, Pedrick an-
swered, "No, so get yourself a drink of Gin/' By that time,
the two young officers were of opposite minds about the mean-
ing of the same piece of information. Collins' safe arrival at
Rye spelled to Pedrick that Collins had been wrong in report-
ing the presence of Chinese off his flank. To the man on the
spot, it meant that he was being ordered arbitrarily to go on
to the object, leaving an enemy force on his rear.
Collins believed that at that moment he should have been
told to move flankward and beat the bushes for an enemy
whose presence he had reported. In moving on to Gin, he
would have to bring Bearchild's group to Scotch, thus com-
pleting the movement according to the original plan. That
would put the patrol as a whole about 75 yards beyond where
the Chinese had first been sighted.
In their final positions, the fix was about 70 yards forward
of the support. The two knobs, Gin and Scotch, were at equal
elevation, possibly 200 feet above the valley floor. Figuring
that no conventional disposition suited the extraordinary haz-
ards of the night, Collins arranged the patrol in two V's with
points toward each other. He and Bearchild would occupy
the pivots within shouting distance of each other. If the
Chinese tried to rush the saddle between them, both flanks
of the two V's could provide mutually supporting fires. A
spur-of-the-moment arrangement, it is perhaps just as well
that it was never tested.
For almost forty minutes Collins listened and sweated,
278 Pork Chop Hill
while the flattened patrol went silent. It was drizzling now,
and though the breeze quickened, the fog hung thicker than
ever. He could see not more than 10 yards. But again his ear
caught a fugue of almost imperceptible sound. His anxieties
were mainly for what was happening on his left, not that he
thought of Alford's group, but because it was on that side he
had first seen the Chinese. So he went that way, moving per-
haps thirty paces down from the knob. His ear caught he
felt quite sure of it the restrained breathing of a body of
men out beyond the fog. Then for a third time a corridor was
wafted briefly in the fog and in the clear, as if spotlighted, he
saw and counted six men. The impression of a split second, it
was gone as quickly, and the swiftness of the transition made
him doubt that he had seen anything at all.
He sprang back toward the summit, aware even as he moved
that his men were not favorably deployed toward the point
of danger, and concerned not to lose time and energy in
turning them that way. At his own position was a 6o-mm
mortar tube and two rounds which he had brought down
from the hill. It took him perhaps one-half minute to fire the
weapon. As the round got away, he yelled, "Keep lookout to
Doomed Patrol 279
left!" The shell fell and exploded right where he thought he
had seen the six Chinese. But the flash and roar revealed
nothing. Now the silence became oppressive as he halfway de-
cided that all along he had been tricked by his imagination.
For the next few minutes, he played it cool. He didn't
bother to tell the men what he thought he had seen, nor did
he radio Pedrick that he had fired a mortar round hoping to
scare an unknown number of the enemy. However, Pedrick
had watched the round explode from his post on the hilltop
and, baffled by it, had murmured, "Now, what the hell!"
At last suspicion overcame reticence. Collins asked his run-
ner, Pvt. Walter E. Busch, Jr., "Tell me, am I nuts, or are you
hearing anything?" Busch answered very solemnly, "I sure do.
I been hearing it for an hour. There's something very funny
out there." That one word of assurance, coming from an en-
listed man, was all that was needed to get Collins back in
balance, confirming his worst thoughts about the situation
and clearing his recurrent doubt of self. At last he felt sure
that most of the night's noise was man-made. It built higher
as he listened. His main worry the fear of envelopment was
partly relieved only because, now that he knew he was dealing
with something real, his ear told him that the noise came
from the low ground between him and Alford's patrol.
Collins sent Busch crawling back to Bearchild to give him
the picture and warn him of the need for full alert. Busch
carried along two communications wires, so that Collins and
Bearchild could signal each other by jerks on the wire if they
sighted the enemy or needed fire. Collins then altered his
formation as shown in the diagram on page 278.
In this way, his party faced about toward its own main line
and concentered its weapons in the direction of the noise.
Collins decided to tell the others what he thought he was up
280 Pork Chop Hill
against. The men showed no nervousness and proceeded si-
lently to reorganize. It was now near midnight.
Of these forebodings in the Collins patrol, Corporal Alf ord
and his nine men knew nothing, though they were but 230
yards distant. That can be charged off to greenness and lack
of knowledge of each other. Alford, the most experienced
man, was making only his second patrol. Four of his men
were non-English-speaking Katusas. Of his five Americans,
three had been assigned only that day to Able Company and
had not yet met their comrades. The other two had been with
the unit ten days and had seen no action. In this not-dry-
behind-the-ears look, it differed not greatly from Collins'
patrol, only two members of which had been with Baker
Company longer than six days. It was an evil that was char-
acteristic of Korean operations in that period, imposed on the
fighting line by the rotation system.
Alf ord had marched his men straight down the ridge finger,
insensible to the night noises which were disquieting Collins.
Passing through King Knob, and then arriving at Queen, he
had deployed his men in a circle around the knob. It was al-
ready worked with half-dug foxholes and the men simply fitted
into them. There they sat, resting and relaxed, while Collins
was hesitantly moving down from the ridge top. They did not
expect a fight, because the other patrol was moving into the
forward ground and their own mission was to assure it extra
defensive protection. Whether that outlook made them less
wary, it is at least clear that Alford said nothing to his men
to alarm them and he reported nothing to Pedrick indicating
a belief that he was in the presence of the enemy.
So at their station the fog simply worsened the monotony.
Time moved routinely until just past midnight. A few of the
men dozed and Alford did not bother to prod them into
Movement in the second attempt to spring an ambush at the King-
The new day was just two minutes old when Collins heard
several bursts of fire off to his left The fog muffled- the sound;
still, he thought it came from the direction of the Able Patrol.
Pedrick called him immediately, "What's happening?" Said
Collins, with pardonable exaggeration, "All hell has broken
loose on my left rear/' Pedrick asked whether the fire came
from friend or enemy, and Collins gave him his best judg-
ment: "I think if s Chinese/'
Exactly eight minutes later, Pedrick called again. The time
282 Pork Chop Hill
interval is important because, till the moment when this sec-
ond conversation opened, Collins had been listening to auto-
matic fire in heavy volume over on his left. As he began to
talk, the automatic fire died; thereafter, he heard nothing but
what he described as "scattered rifle fire/' Asked Pedrick,
"What's happening now?*' Collins started to say that the fight
was still going. Then corrected himself and reported, "Nega-
tive. There's no fire except what my people are giving in
support, and we're pouring it on heavy."
The line and radio links with Alford's patrol on Queen
Knob had gone dead, Pedrick having heard nothing from it
since the fire opened. He guessed, or hoped, that Alford's
men by now were scrambling back up the ridge finger. So he
said to Collins, "Fall back on your support, move toward
Queen and be ready to assault if the Chinese have it." But a
bell already rang in Collins' brain telling him that he was too
late. Dropping all caution, he shouted at top voice, "Join
me at the rally point!" and without waiting to organize the
fix group, started for Point Rye. They trailed after; Bearchild
and his men were already ahead of him. The Indian, too, was
filled with a terrible premonition. What he had heard through
the fog lacked the dynamic and rhythm of a normal fire ex-
change followed by disengagement. A BAR had fired pro-
longedly amid a crackling of carbines and rifles. That noise
was swiftly drowned by the rattle of burp guns fired in large
number. Then as the automatic volume suddenly cut off,
there was a diminuendo of rifle shots. Afterwards, only silence.
It was a senseless pattern for a skirmish between sides fight-
ing for ground.
Collins got his men to the base of Queen in ten minutes,
moving in squad column on the double. Only then did he
bother to form a skirmish line for the upward sweep. It was
a useless precaution; the scene was utterly quiet. Without
Doomed Patrol 283
interruption, they got to the top of the knob. There they
found eight dead men in American uniform. Alford's patrol
was still formed in a circle around the top of the knob. Each
man seemingly had met death where he had been stationed.
Their weapons lay beside or under them. "It was/' said Col-
lins, "a perfect execution." And he spoke better than he knew.
It was much too perfect for war.
Collins called Pedrick. On hearing that the alert patrol had
been massacred, Pedrick told him to bring the bodies out.
Collins' men tried, but it was no go. Clean spent from the
emotion and exertion of the night, climaxed by the shock of
their discovery on Queen Knob, they had lost all lifting power.
They dragged several of the bodies a few yards, then gave it
When Collins explained this to Pedrick, he relayed the in-
formation to Able Company. Its commander, Lieut. R. F.
Rasch, thereon told 2nd Lieut. John J. Tierney to take a
patrol of fourteen men down to Queen, get the ground under
control and give such help to the Americans as proved neces-
sary. The exact order given shows that Rasch had no clear
idea of the situation and was unaware that his alert patrol had
met disaster. He said to Tierney, "Go down the chogi trail
to Queen. There's a disorganized enemy force holding it. You
are to form an assault line and recapture Queen."
So Tierney started down the ridge, falsely assuming that
his main job was to move into a fighting situation and get it
under control. Tiemey told his men to fire at anything mov-
ing off the trail. They moved along at a running walk. There
were eight Americans and seven Koreans in the party.
During that half-hour Collins' men simply lay down and
rested alongside the chogi trail above Queen Knob. They
were still flattened when they heard Tierney's patrol come
clattering along and forthwith challenged it That circum-
284 Pork Chop Hill
stance possibly averted a collision between the two parties
as Tierney was wholly surprised to meet friends in the neigh-
When Collins gave him the news that his task was to por-
terage a dead patrol, Tierney immediately had heavy trouble
with his seven Koreans. They refused to touch the bodies. So
Tierney pointed his carbine and said he would fire unless they
obeyed the order. When they still didn't move and he failed
to fire, he lost his point. Only one Korean, Pvt. Chim Sa Soo,
changed his mind, shouldered a body and carried it to the
company lines under his own power.
The other seven bodies had to be handled by Tierney's
eight Americans, since Collins' men had but sufficient energy
left to pull themselves along up the trail. Thus the carrying
had to be done in relays, while Tierney, to help his men,
moved along under a load of three rifles and four carbines.
The combined party was two hours and 35 minutes in reach-
ing the main trench atop the ridge.
As stated, there were eight men in the killed patrol. But in
the beginning, ten men of Able Company had been sent to
Queen. The discrepancy comes of what happened to two
Katusa (Koreans serving with American units) soldiers.
Cpl. Pak Si Jong and Pvt. Im Ben Gun ran from the perim-
eter shortly after the beginning of the fire exchange, before
any hurt had been done the patrol. They bolted blindly from
sheer panic and were already well up the ridge finger by the
time Collins' patrol got to Queen Knob. By their own state-
ments, and according to all of the facts developed in the offi-
cial inquiry, it was an act of inexcusable cowardice.
But they were not the only weak vessels present. Three
hundred yards up the chogi trail, their line of flight carried
them through an outguard post manned by Pvt. Gerald Cos-
Doomed Patrol 285
tello of Able Company. A draftee, he had joined the company
just that day.
His job in the outguard post was to serve as contact be-
tween the patrol and the company and sound warning of any
untoward development. He had heard the fire below. Still, it
did not impress him as anything which should be reported; no
one in the Army had ever told him how a fight sounded.
The two fleeing Katusas literally overran him and knocked
him down. He had made no effort to stop them, and had
they halted, he would have asked them no questions. That
there was any connection between the sounds of the fire
and their precipitate flight didn't occur to him. He thought
it mildly interesting that two men should be running so hard
through the fog on a black night. But he didn't bother to
report this or anything else to the company.
Costello was simply a lost soul wholly surrounded by a
meaningless wilderness. Given a number, a rifle and a respon-
sible soldierly task to do by Uncle Sam, this hapless nephew
was utterly incapable of understanding his relationship to
anything about him.
So at dawn atop the big hill we met with the living and
the dead of the three patrols. All of the actors were there,
including the company and battalion leaders who had par-
ticipated only as voices from the wings, Collins' men who
had survived, Costello the vacuous outguard, the two Katusas
who had fled the fight and their comrades who would never
Yet from these mute witnesses came the most eloquent and
damning testimony of all. It was supplied by the look of their
broken bodies. Even the barest examination of them raised
the question: "How did this unbelievable thing happen?"
Eight men had been killed; all had died in the same way. In
that lay the great riddle of the night. And even as the nature
286 Pork Chop Hill
of their wounds prompted the question, in the end, it proved
the key to the answer.
Tierney had been instructed by radio to bring the bodies
out exactly as he found them and had been faithful to his
mission. So they lay there, eight dead men, each wearing a
bulletproof vest, zippered from the lower belly to the neck.
The vests were unscratched. The heads of the victims were
also clean. Each man had died from a single bullet. Each
bullet had entered at the groin, just below the edge of the
vest. Thereafter, in each case, the bullet had ranged upward
through the body and lodged there. All eight men had died
from internal hemorrhage.
The mathematical chance of that having happened in a
straight-on fire fight would be one in ten million. Every bullet
would have to be a ricochet. Yet these men had died while
deployed in a circle with backs turned toward each other.
Something clicked. In years of covering the courts in West
Texas, I had run into not a few self-defense cases in which
the victims had died from a bullet coursing almost directly
upward. And I had heard counsel and the experts say, "He
had to be shot from the floor/'
So we went into the debriefing and heard from the living
Pedrick, Collins, Bearchild and the others who were identi-
fied with the big patrol described their experience as it has
been related here. Again and again their feeling came out,
supported by what Collins had seen, that from the beginning
of the movement into the forward ground, there had been
Chinese all around them, a feeling obviously not shared by
"I am sure they knew we were there," said Collins. "After
I fired the mortar round, they had no reason to doubt it.
Then when we fired in support of Alf ord, our position became
Doomed Patrol 287
cleanly outlined. But for some purpose of their own, they let
We continued, developing the big patrol's story by routine
questions and answers. At last we reached the point where
Collins told about the outbreak of small-arms fire on his left.
I asked him, "Was it friend or enemy? Who fired first?"
Answer: "The Chinese."
"Are you certain about it?"
"I think so."
"Think about it! You say the sounds were muffled because
of the fog. You knew there were Chinese between you and
Alford. Isn't it therefore possible that, expecting enemy fire,
you are mistaken about the sound and source?"
Answer: "My impression was quite definite."
At that point, I asked the same main question of Private
Bearchild, who had been about 50 or 60 yards farther from
the fire. The Indian shook his head, and answered, "It came
so suddenly that for the first minute or so, my brain was con-
fused. I have no idea who fired first. Then I cooled and could
hear the BAR going and later the burp guns. Afterward I
heard scattered rifle fire."
That was how we left it as we went on with the debriefing
of the big patrol.
Cpl. Pak Si Jong, the Korean who had fled the fight, stood
about 5 feet in his socks.
His commander, Lieutenant Rasch, cut him down to yet
smaller size as he walked before us. "The boys call him Easy
Ed," said Rasch. "That's because he's slick and a first-class
I looked the little man over. He could speak no English, so
he stood mute, waiting for the interpreter's questions. But
one thing about him was thoroughly impressive. He was
shaking like an aspen and he had the dread of death in his
288 Pork Chop Hill
eyes. There was no question what Easy Ed was thinking. A
tribunal was passing on his dereliction and the end of it would
be a post and a firing squad.
The tension was terrific. Yet I had to avoid smiling at the
runt lest it give him assurance. It was necessary to keep him
pitched to the terrible solemnity of the occasion, if we were
to draw the truth from him.
His story came forth, one jerk at a time.
"We ten men set up on top of Queen about eight o'clock.
There were half-dug foxholes there, more long than deep,
so that we lie down in them.
"We hear nothing. We see nothing. Corporal Alf ord makes
the rounds, but with everything quiet, it is hard to keep the
men from sleeping.
"Then right after midnight, we have trouble. Alford sees
two Chinese walking up the forward slope toward his position.
He fires his carbine, maybe six rounds.
"That's all, right then. Maybe thirty seconds later, I think
I see an enemy moving about 10 yards downslope from me.
I can't be sure. No noise from them yet. But I fire my carbine,
four bullets. My position is on the other side of Queen from
Alford. When I fire, he gets excited and yells, 'Everyone fire/
So we all fire, a few rounds each. Nothing happens. We see no
one. We hear no enemy. Everything gets quiet and we guess
we have made a mistake.
"Eight, maybe nine minutes pass. Then the big noise. Up
the forward slope toward Alford come many Chinese, maybe
twelve or fifteen, all firing burp guns. That's when I run and
Pvt. Im Ben Gun follows me out. I couldn't stand. I do not
wait to see how any of our men are killed."
I stopped him then to take a double check on the one im-
portant thing he had said, asking, "And you are sure abso-
lutely that you, Alford and the others all fired your pieces
Doomed Patrol 289
from your prone positions some minutes before you heard any
He answered, "Yes, sir, sure, there can be no doubt/ 7
I grinned at Easy Ed, and I guessed he realized for the first
time that he was not going to be shot. His body relaxed and
he slumped onto a wooden bench. Then I turned to the divi-
sion commander, Maj. Gen. Arthur Trudeau, and said, "The
boy's story wraps it up. It is now possible to say with absolute
certainty how these men died/ 7
Trudeau's first question was, "How can you be certain that
his account is true and that Collins is wrong in his impression
that the Chinese fired first?"
I answered, "There are three reasons. To begin, Collins was
too distant to be a reliable witness, and moreover he was ex-
pecting enemy fire. But the man on the spot must certainly
know how the fire started, who started it and probably why.
Therefore the only question is whether Easy Ed is lying. And
there the answer must be 'no/ For he would be lying against
interest Had he been startled and driven out by a sudden
burst of enemy fire, there would be an excuse for his flight.
But by his admission, his own comrades started the fight, held
their ground and were still facing enemy fire when he made
off. So he tells the truth only to convict himself. He must be
telling the truth. That leads to the final point, that with his
story, all the parts now fit into place and we at last get blue-
print clarity out of what has been a wholly confused action/ 7
So with all hands listening, the general asked for the ration-
alization, and it was given to them this way.
The Chinese had known all along that both patrols were
there. But they had decided earlier that on the next go-round,
when the weather favored such a design, they would plan
toward not simply ambushing an American patrol but mur-
290 Pork Chop Hill
dering it. That called for an extremely devious arrangement.
When the Americans decided to send two patrols down the
separate fingers on one night, it put an extra complication in
their plan. But counting on the insulating effect of the heavy
weather, they must have reckoned that if they ignored Col-
lins* patrol, and did not even harass it, Collins would stay
placed in isolation. The approved plan was intended for exe-
cution upon a smaller group.
Alford's unawareness of the enemy presence played into
the Chinese hands. The first two skirmishers who advanced
up the forward slope toward him were a diversion, sent to
draw American fire and then fall back. But at the same time,
a ring of Chinese skirmishers had been sent wriggling up the
slope of Queen to get right under its rim next the fire pits,
under cover of the fog.
The pair advancing openly had exposed the position of
only one weapon Alford's. So another man had stood up to
draw more fire Pak Si Jong's. Then all the Americans fired
briefly. That put the final touch on the enemy arrangements.
The executioners who had deployed under the rim of the knob
simply moved a foot or so one way or the other to get directly
under the intended victim. They made that adjustment dur-
ing the eight-minute silence.
Now all was ready for the coup de grdce. The wave of
Chinese armed with burp guns advanced up the forward slope
to flush out the game and force members of the patrol to their
feet, in the first act of withdrawal. As the silhouettes rose, the
circle of executioners simply canted rifles upward toward the
lower half of the looming figures and fired.
Yes, it was "shooting from the floor/' There were powder
burns on four of these dead men. Their killers must have been
less than rifle's length from the victims when the rounds went
Doomed Patrol 291
The debriefing was over. The general and I walked back
to the choppers for the flight back to Division Headquarters.
He asked, "But what's the object?"
I said, "As in most patrolling, to prove that you're top dog,
to demoralize the other fellow as much as possible and to
make his patrols feel weak in the stomach before they ever
Then he thought a moment, and popped the real question:
"What can we do about it?"
I answered, "Nothing. They sit here year after year. The
longer they stay, the smarter they get. Our youngsters keep
moving in and out They're smart and they've got guts, but
they don't stay long enough to learn. You can't beat Davy
Crockett with a boy scout."
The Fight at Snook
JLjVEN THE NAME OF THE PLACE HAD A BLESSED APPROPRIATE-
ness. According to Webster's, "snook" means to smell, to
nose about, to lurk and to lie in ambush. It can also mean "a
thumbing of the nose."
Either or both definitions could have been in the mind
of the unknown but scholarly GI who first looked at the
outpost and said, "Let's call it Snook/' The tiny knob inter-
rupted the otherwise flat bottom of the Yokkokchon Valley
in awesome isolation. It was an act of deliberate defiance by
the Americans that they insisted on garrisoning it.
Yet there was something about Outpost Snook which
charmed the eye and soothed the senses. The other outpost
hills all appeared melancholy. Snook alone looked chipper. It
was if God had made this funny little place just to provide
special care for the watchmen of the night.
Snook was joined to the big ridge of the main line by an
attenuated and sharply descending ridge finger of such taper-
ing narrowness that from the high ground it looked like a
dinosaur's tail stretching into enemy country. The last knob
on the tail was Outpost Snook. From the main line of resist-
ance, a communications trench ran 1,100 yards down the
spine of the animal to serve the peewee fortress. The trench
was of such depth as to prohibit supporting weapons being
fired from it. So steep were the slopes of the finger and so
294 Por k Chop Hill
sharp-edged its crest that the trench embankments did well
to withstand a pounding by mortar fire. Except by entering
the trench itself, the enemy could not use the upper heights
of the finger to take Outpost Snook from the rear. But because
the finger ran straight and true from the hilltop, fires from
behind the big ridge could beat upon the sides of the ex-
tension while re-enforcing infantrymen descended to Snook
via the deep trench.
Atop the knob there was room for just one bunker, which
was called the CP, and a straight-running, 3O-foot sand-
bagged trench which could accommodate not more than ten
men. To cover and strengthen the battalion position, eight
outguard (listening) posts were mounted in an arc around the
base of Snook, closer to the enemy than was the CP by an
average distance of 200 yards. Outguard No. 14 was almost
directly to the front of Snook. Outguards No. 15, 16 and 17
were echeloned to its left and rear so that they curved upward
along the lower slope. Outguards No. 13, 12, 11 and 10
stretched rightward across the paddy fields and therefore had
maximum exposure. There were two or three men in each
By reason of its extreme isolation, limited means and ex-
traordinary terrain, Snook had therefore more the nature of a
stationary patrol than of a fortified redoubt The knob was
not either wired in or protected by minefields, as the position
was too cramped and the slope too steep to permit it. If hit,
the garrison would survive mainly by its own power.
For the greater part of two years, the Chinese Communists
had looked hungrily at Snook, knowing that if they could
grab it, they had a sally port to the main ridge. But while
they continued to probe and hit every other outpost position,
Snook they left very much alone.
On the night of 15-16 May, 1953, Snook was defended by
Isolated Outpost Snook, tied to the main line by a communications
296 Pork Chop Hill
eight men from Third Platoon, Able Company, xytli Infantry
Regiment. Sgt. George Transeau, who was in command, had
seen Snook for the first time late that afternoon. The others
already had spent one night on the ground. Including
Transeau, the average length of service along the fighting
front by the members of the garrison and outguard was thir-
teen days. Of the eight men atop the knob, four were newly
All of the outguards were tied in with the CP by a tele-
phone hot loop. The same open circuit kept Battalion in con-
tinuing touch with developments at Snook. If, for example,
one outguard got on the loop and cried warning to Transeau,
all other outguards heard it, as did the CP people on the
company hill, and Major Acuff at Battalion.
At exactly 2304, Transeau heard a rattle of fire from some-
where along his immediate front. The sounds were muffled
and at first they conveyed to Transeau's mind nothing of
great importance, though he immediately reported what he
had heard to Acuff at Battalion.
While he was talking to Acuff, a number of the outguards
cut in and sounded off on the wire. They had heard the firing,
but they had seen nothing; they wanted to know what the
shooting was about. Transeau counted them off, one by one.
There was a conspicuous blank: Outguard No. 14 hadn't re-
ported. Quickly, the other outguards were calling it to his
attention: "We're hearing nothing from 14; what's happen-
There was good reason for the silence. At Outguard No.
14, Privates First Class Robart, Holmen and Gothier had met
sudden death. Afterward, the look of their bodies indicated
that they had all been killed where they sat by one subma-
chine gunner and, after that, grenaded for good measure. But
The Fight at Snook 297
the men on Snook did not then know it. Transeau reported to
Acuff only this, "We are hearing nothing from 14."
Acuff told him, "Use the other outguards and re-enforce
toward the vacuum." Otherwise sensible advice, it underesti-
mated the weight and speed of the threat. Time and develop-
ments had already closed off the chance for any such
maneuver, as Transeau realized before he had time to repeat
Acuff 's order,
Pvt. Harold Gardner was on the hot loop now, talking to
Transeau from Outguard No. 15: "We see them. There are
fifty to sixty of them. They have overrun 14 and are now
heading straight toward us. We've got to get out/'
Transeau said, "O.K., run for the hill as fast as you can!"
Acuff heard him say it, and realized that his own present task
was to alert the supporting heavy fires that would save Snook,
leaving it to Transeau's judgment whether the other out-
guards should be withdrawn.
Private Gardner and Pvt. Bae Yon Bee started for Snook
on a dead run. But the main body of Chinese was already
across their line to the CP. So they ran diagonally upward
intending to get into the commo trench between Snook and
the main hill.
Wholly occupied with his communications which kept him
inside the bunker, Transeau didn't have time to spell out the
situation to the seven men behind him who were in the
trench garrisoning the knob. They had to play out the show
by instinct and according to what they had been taught in
basic training; so did the men im the outguard posts on the
The truly remarkable thing is that, with no exception, all
hands decided to remain right where they were, fire if they
saw anything that looked like a target and move only when
ordered. The voices they had heard over the hot loop were
298 Pork Chop Hill
steady, and that fact steadied them. They had made their
personal decisions even before Transeau said over the phone,
"We've got a fight on Snook; stay where you are and give it
all you can." The outguards heard that message; the seven
men in the trench behind Transeau didn't.
To Pvts. Roy L. Howell and Robert A. Cayo, who were
having their first time under fire in the Snook trench, it was
momentarily disconcerting that no warning had come and
that no one said, "Look here! You are in a fight. There is the
enemy. Now fire!" That was more or less how they had ex-
pected it would be. But the noise of "two or three burp guns"
had sounded unfamiliar to their ears. And within four or five
minutes after they had heard the first shots, enemy mortar
shells, arriving ten or twelve to the minute, began to shake
the earth near them. They decided, on their own, that Snook
and their personal fortunes were in jeopardy and that they
had best do something about it
Howell heard a Browning automatic rifle (fired by one of
the outguards) go into action. He said, "When I heard the
friendly fire, I came out of my trance. Until then, though I
had heard enemy fire, my reaction was still as if I were watch-
ing a movie of which I was not a part."
Howell was within arm's length of the CP. He walked five
or six yards and looked down the slope. At a distance of about
40 yards he could see "from twenty-five to thirty men" climb-
ing the shale bank toward him. They were in "gang forma-
tion" and were moving obliquely across his front as if their
purpose was to gain a slightly defiladed saddle and enter the
trench on the rear of Snook. As fast as he could load and pull
trigger, he fired four clips from his Mi and saw "several" of
the Chinese fall. Others changed direction when he opened
fire and, dropping to their bellies, crawled toward him. They
yelled, "Cease fire!" as they came on. Others among them
The Fight at Snook 299
cried, "Spread out! Spread out!" Though they spoke clear
English, it did not disconcert him. He dropped his rifle and
put his three grenades on the rampart. When the leading
Chinese got to within 20 yards of him, he unpinned his
grenades and threw. He heard screams and saw two of the
Chinese go limp and lie still while the others scrambled down-
slope and were lost in the dark. That ended the assault on
his personal position. When the targets vanished, Howell
Pvt. Robert A. Cayo was about 10 yards from Howell. He
was lying in the trench and trying to rest when the first shots
were fired. After Howell opened fire, Cayo arose and tried
to look over the trench wall. The Chinese whom Howell was
fighting were closer still to Cayo. But the trench had been
dug unevenly. Where Cayo stood, it was deeper, and Cayo
was a shorter man than Howell; on tiptoe, he still could not
see beyond the revetment. So he dropped to a squatting posi-
tion and waddled a few yards, still wondering what he should
do. That brought him within a couple of paces of Howell who
was still firing downslope. So far, Cayo had seen no sign of
the enemy. Cayo looked up. He saw a man's head bob up
above the trench wall not six feet away. As he looked, two
more heads appeared behind it, and then a fourth and fifth
head. But since the embankment covered the prone figures,
Cayo saw only the heads and not the bodies, and was re-
minded of objects in a shooting gallery. He said to himself,
"They must be Chinese." The heads didn't stir and Cayo re-
mained as motionless as possible. Still on his haunches, he
unpinned and flipped a grenade over the bank, the toss car-
rying not more than six feet. There was a loud explosion. He
heard men screaming. He said, "Got 'em! Got 'em!" and felt
enormously satisfied, though as far as he knew, there was no
one to hear him. He threw another grenade. Then a hand
3 oo Pork Chop Hill
pulled at his elbow. It was his buddy, Pvt. John Alcott. Al-
cott said, "I've got three grenades/' and handed one to Cayo.
Keeping low, they put their three grenades over the bank and
heard more screaming after the bombs exploded. Then they
crouched back-to-baclc, carbines in hand, facing in opposite
directions along the trench line, awaiting the enemy. But
there was no need to fire.
Transeau, for just one minute, stepped outside the CP
bunker. He could hear the noise of fighting along the Snook
trench but could see none of his men. He judged that his
position was already in the process of being overrun. On the
other hand, he dared not leave the telephone. The support-
ing fires from the mortars and artillery had not yet come in.
Moreover, the men on the outguards were still in full jeopardy
and would not likely stay steadfast if he quit talking and
they concluded that Snook was gone. So he could do little
more than take a quick look and then duck back. With his
carbine, he fired several rounds downslope, then returned to
the phone. Without knowing it, he had aimed the right way
in the right moment.
The enemy plan had been quite simple. The main body-
between forty and fifty menwent for the big prize, charging
up the left slope of Snook to get on its rear. But a smaller
party perhaps ten men or so had come right up the nose of
Snook, aiming to grab the CP bunker and polish off the gar-
Pvt Freddie Sakai was not more than 20 feet from Tran-
seau, guarding the entrance to the CP passageway. He had
heard a crackling noise from somewhere down the right-hand
embankment. (Howell and Cayo had become engaged from
the left.) Sakai leaned toward the noise. Standing not more
than 10 yards from him were five Chinese, pausing for breath
after their hard run up the nose of Snook. That was Sakai's
The Fight at Snook 301
first sight of the enemy. Three of them sprang toward the
trench. Sakai emptied his carbine into them. A fourth Chi-
nese jumped on top of the CP bunker, firing a burp gun at
Sakai, range five yards. Sakai dodged to one side, then hugged
the sandbag wall of the bunker, reloaded, stepped back into
the open and fired upward. Though he saw the gunner go
down, he felt certain that he had missed him. But it was im-
possible to put a grazing fire over the bunker roof. The fifth
Chinese was still standing uncertainly outside the trench;
Sakai fired and the man dropped. That ended his action. He
said later, "It was too bad; I didn't get a chance to do any
Pvt. George Sakasegawa was at the upper entrance to
Snook, his job being to hold the fort if the enemy got into the
commo trench. He had heard the burp-gun fire from the val-
ley; it bothered him that no one came to say what it meant.
About five minutes passed. Sakasegawa had been straining to
catch any sign of movement down the commo trench. Quite
suddenly he looked over his left shoulder toward the rampart
Six Chinese stood on the earthbank directly above his head,
gazing down at him. From behind Sakasegawa someone (it
was probably Transeau) opened fire with a carbine. The sound
animated Sakasegawa. He cut loose with his Mi, firing three
clips in less than one minute. He thought he saw three of the
six Chinese fall to his fire, but in his excitement he could
not be sure. The others ducked out of sight downslope.
Sakasegawa leaned over the trench wall and fired a fourth
clipload that way. He could hear "many voices" chattering
Chinese, broken repeatedly by a sharp command in English:
"Spread out! Spread out!" It sounded to him then as if the
enemy was trying to move around him and enter the coinmo
trench farther up the finger. Rifle resting on the parapet, he
leaned far over. But beyond 20 feet he could see nothing be-
3 02 Pork Chop Hill
cause an earth hummock masked the lower slope. Close at
hand he could hear burp guns clattering and grenades pop-
ping. But he could not tell the direction of the sounds.
Sakasegawa waited for about five minutes, wondering what
to do, fearful that if he fired more, he would run out of am-
munition. There was plenty of it in the bunker, 35 feet away,
but he felt rooted to the spot. Then two grenades thumped
on the earthbank within a few feet of his head, rebounded
down the slope and exploded; that meant that the Chinese
grenadiers were not more than 10 yards below him. Pvt. Andy
Amadelo joined Sakasegawa. Another grenade came in,
landed right next Amadelo's feet and, exploding, spent its
force in air, not even scratching him. He said to Sakasegawa,
"I think we better give them something/' So both men gre-
naded the outer sides of the trench wall upslope, throwing
four bombs apiece. They saw no positive sign that the Chi-
nese were moving in that direction. But that was their open
flank and the point of main danger. The grenading was just a
precaution. They heard nothing more of the enemy.
Privates Gardner and Bee, who had been bounced hard out
of Outgard No. 15, blocked by the advance of the enemy main
body and diverted toward the company hill, didn't get very
far. Unintentionally, they collided with the enemy group which
was recoiling from Sakasegawa's fire. There were about twelve
Chinese. Gardner and Bee tried to run on. Several potato
mashers exploded at their heels. As the steel bit into their legs,
they stumbled and fell. Gardner yelled, "Throw!'' They
jumped up and grenaded back, each man throwing twice. In
the action they became split. For a time they hid in the grass.
They were not certain they had hit any Chinese but they had
seen the group scatter and run. After the field was clear, they
separately found their way back to the Snook CP.
Apart from the action by Gardner and Bee and the killing
The Fight at Snook 303
of the three men on No. 14, the outguards did not get into
the fire fight. They sat steady with weapons ready, awaiting
the chance to use them effectively. The chance never came.
Sakai continued to worry about the enemy gunner he had
seen and attempted to wing atop the CP roof. The man had
disappeared into shadow and Sakai, who is a very small sol-
dier, couldn't sight across the roof top. Transeau again
emerged from the bunker. The Chinese rose out of the sand-
bags, fired once with the burp gun and hit Transeau in the
shoulder. Then he jumped clear and was lost in the darkness
before Sakai could fire.
That was the last shot in the in-fighting.
Transeau returned to his phone to tell Acuff, "Sir, I think
we've got it made. We've been going for twenty minutes and
I haven't yet heard one yell from my crew." He had not had
time to check the squad. He was playing it by ear. But the
guess was right.
The fight had started at 2304, At 2327 the Chinese attack-
ers put up two red flares over Snook. It must have been a
distress signal, since they made no further effort to close
against the garrison.
Acuff meanwhile had put his supporting fires along the
flanks of the finger and on the valley floor ahead of Snook.
It was a gradual crescendo, begun in the first three minutes
by two Quad-jos, joined later by one platoon of 4.2 mortars,
four 6o-mm mortars and one battery of 105$. When the two
Chinese flares were fired, Acuff called for "Flash Snook" and
within one minute the curtain of fire closed around the front
of the knob. That interdicted the escape route and provided
just enough light to put a glow over the finish. One large
group of the enemy was seen by Transeau as it attempted a
getaway; in midflight, it was hit by a salvo of 4.2 shells, and
when the smoke cleared, no sign of life remained.
304 Pork Chop Hill
At 2400 two answering flares were fired from the Chinese
hill named Pokkae. If it was a signal to withdraw, it was al-
ready too late. Those for whom the signal was intended were
already either destroyed or in full flight, due to the more or
less random efforts of seven willing American riflemen.
Transeau sat down to make his final accounting, totaling
his wins and losses before reporting to Acuff . His bookkeeping
completed, he called for first aid.
Acuff, Maj. Earl C., 215, 296- Artillery
Adams, Cpl. Warren T., 102
Affere, Cpl. Arage, 238
Alcott, Pvt. John, 300
Aleu, Capt. Addis, 246, 248
Alford, Cpl. Otis, 275-276, 280-
Alieca, Pvt. Santiago, 169, 170
Alligator's Jaws Hill, 44 (map)
Ethiopian patrol from, 201-211
Amadelo, Pvt. Andy, 302
Ambushes of UN patrols by Chi-
nese, 216-217, 256-272, 280-
Ambushes rigged for enemy
Charley Company, i7th Rgt,
Ethiopian, of April 28, 202-
205; of May 19, 237-242
at Hill 172, 252-255, 273-275
Anderson, Lieut, 127, 131
Angel, Pfc. Ramon, 46
Armor, in action at Pork Chop
Hill, 151, 171
Arsenal Hill, 31-51
action of April 16-17 at, 33-49
action of May 10 at, 212-232
defensive fortifications, 32
in action at Snook Outpost,
against Attack on Yoke and
Uncle outposts, 240-241,
in fight at Arsenal and Erie
hills, 43-45. 47, 49
in fight at Dale Outpost, 62,
65, 76, 77-78
in fight on Pork Chop Hill,
125, 127, 136-139, 193-194
flash fire of, 47
figures for combined actions of
April 16-17, 196-197
in support of Ethiopian patrol
from Alligator's Jaws Hill,
tactical employment of, 33, 249
Asfaw, Lieut. Zeneke, 237-241,
Asman, Sgt, 1 53
Atkins, Pvt. George, 151
Attridge, Lieut Jack, 124-125,
127-128, 132, 149-150
Ayela, Lieut. Bezabib, 241-242
Baron, Pfc. John L., 188-191, 194
Barrows, Lieut James, 162
Bashaw, Pvt. Donald B., 219
First, i7th Rgt, at Pork Chop
Hill, 185, 192
Second, iyth Rgt, in battle of
Pork Chop Hill, 184-196
First, 3ist Rgt., in action at
Dale Outpost, 52-90; in pa-
trol actions at Hill 172, 252-
Third, 3ist Rgt., in action at
Dale Outpost, 73, 79-80, 90-
48th Field Artillery, in action
of April 16-17, 49; in action
against Yoke and Uncle out-
posts, 240-241, 245-249; in
support of Ethiopian patrol
of April 28, 208-210
Kagnew (Ethiopian), 233-236;
in patrol from Alligator's
Jaws Hill, 201-211; in pa-
trol from Yoke Outpost, 237-
Bearchild, Pvt. Loy J., 275-277,
Beaver, Pvt. Robert, 265-266
Bechtel, Lieut Homer F., 157,
Beckham, Cpl., 99
Bee, Pvt. Bae Yon 7 297, 302
Ben Gun, Pvt Im, 284-288
Bennett, Pfc., 89
Bermudez-Cruz, Pvt. Francisco,
Blake, Lieut James, 161-162
Boatwright, M/S George, 81-83,
Bolf, Pvt. Alvin A,, 255-256
Booth, SFC Kenneth G., 230-
Bordelon, Pvt Edgar P., 148
Bressler, 2nd Lieut Ryan A., 55-
56, 60-61, 67, 70-71, 108
Bridges, Cpl. William H., 145-
Brooner, Pfc. Walter P., 267
Buffalo Regiment. See Regiments,
Bunkers, placement and construc-
tion of, 22, 23
Busch, Pvt. Walter E., Jr., 279
Bushman, Sgt Francis D., 85-89
Cagle, Pvt Sherman, 255, 257,
Calnan, Maj. William M., 252-
Carmela, Pvt Gonzales, 221-223,
Casualties, handling of, 157, 170
Cayo, Pvt. Robert A., 298-300
CCF (Chinese Communist
ambush of UN patrols, at Ar-
senal Hill, 216-217; at Hill
172, 256-271, 280-291
attack techniques of, 20-21, 35-
39, 55-58, 129
defense fortifications of, 24-25,
dissemination of vital informa-
tion among, 31
immobility of, 25-26
Chambliss, Cpl. Robert E., 170,
Chinese Forces. See CCF
Chink Baldy Hill, 44 (map), 53
Clark, Lieut, 193-194
Clark, Maj. Gen. Bruce Cooper,
demons, Lieut, Joseph G., Jr.,
143-144, 150-164, 166, 183,
Coble, Lieut. Omer L., Jr., 215-
2i6 t 229
Collins, 2nd Lieut. Benjamin L.,
76-77, 80, 92, 96, 100, 102,
Colvin, Pfc. Thomas L., 219, 229
Communication trenches, place-
ment and construction of,
Communications with patrols,
collapse of, 19
Charley Company, 17 Rgt., pa-
at Hill 172, 256, 259
Communist Forces. See CCF
Able, i7th Rgt., in action at
Pork Chop Hill, 195-196; in
action at Snook Outpost,
Baker, i7th Rgt., mortar sec-
tion support of Charley Co.
patrol, 215, 216, 218-219
Charley, i7th Rgt., in patrol
beyond Arsenal Hill, 212-
Easy, i7th Rgt, in action at
Pork Chop Hill, 191-196
Fox, i7th Rgt, in action at
Pork Chop Hill, 142, 185-
George, i7th Rgt., in action on
Pork Chop Hill, 159-164
Able, 3ist Rgt., in patrol from
Hill 172, 262-270; massacre
of patrol from, 272, 275,
Baker, 3ist Rgt., in action at
Dale Outpost, 53-90, 108,
no; in patrol from Hill 172,
253-270; on patrol of May
Charley, 3ist Rgt., in patrol
from Hill 172, 253, 270-271
Easy, 3ist Rgt, in action on
Pork Chop Hill, 114-142
Fox, 3ist Rgt, in action at
Pork Chop Hill, 130, 134-
Item, 3ist Rgt, in action at
Dale Outpost, 79-80, 90-111
King, 3ist Rgt, in action on
Pork Chop Hill, 143-166
Love, 3ist Rgt, in action at
Pork Chop Hill, 130, 144,
151, 157-158, 161, 164, 167-
Easy, 32nd Rgt., in action on
Arsenal Hill, 32-51
George, 32nd Rgt., on Erie
How, 32nd Rgt, in action of
Erie and Arsenal hills, 32,
First, Ethiopian Battalion, in
Communist attack on Yoke
Outpost, 237, 241-247
Second, Ethiopian Battalion, in
patrol hgm Alligator's Jaws
Third, Ethiopian Battalion, oa
patrol beyond Yoke Outpost,
Conn, Lieut Jack L., 273-274
Cook, Lieut Robert S., 148-149
Cooper, SFC James, 179
Cooper, Pfc. James F., 255, 257-
Cordova, Lieut. Roberto L., 231
Correa, Cpl. Arsenia, 147
Costa, Lieut Wongele, 201-211
Costello, Pvt. Gerald, 284-285
Cowles, Pvt Mike, 120-121
Cox, Pvt, 84
Craft, Cpl. J. B., 227-228, 230
Crane, Pvt, 39, 46, 48
Crittenden, Lieut. Forrest J., 157,
Crookston, Pvt. Richard L., 97
Crum, Cpl. Billy R., 91, 94
Dale Outpost, 44 (map), 52-113
attack on, 55-78
counterattack on, 79-111
fortifications at, 53-55, 57
Daniel, Brig. Gen. Derrill M.,
Dankel, 2nd Lieut. Laurence,
Davis, Lieut Col. John N., 143-
144, 161, 163, 166, 172, 182
Dawson, Pvt. Joe, 58, 61
Dawson, Pvt. John H., 74
Debriefing sessions, procedure of,
CCF, 24-25, 115-116
UN, 21-24; at Dale Outpost,
53-5 5> 56, 104; at Erie and
Arsenal outposts, 32; on
Pork Chop Hill, 117, 119-
Degene, Cpl. Raffi, 203-206, 210
Denton, 2nd Lieut. Earle L., 168-
173, 182-191, 194
Devries, Pvt. Ronald P., 221-225,
DeWitt, 2nd Lieut. William W.,
34-3 5> 42-43, 45> 48-51, 247
Division Headquarters. See jth
Dobak, SFC Gilbert, 180-182
Drake, 2nd Lieut. Ralph R., 32,
35-36, 42, 48-50
Droney, Sgt. John H., 56-57, 261,
Dugan, Pvt. Thomas M., 149
Dunlop, Pvt., 269
organization of front in 1953,
23-24, 32-33, 53-54
immobility of, 26
Epps, Pvt, 108
Erie Hill, 31-51
action of April 16-17 at, 33, 43
action of May 10 at, 212-232
defensive fortifications of, 32
Ess, Lieut, 161
Ethiopian forces, 233-235
patrol from Alligator's Jaws
patrol from Yoke Outpost, 237-
taking of prisoners from enemy
trenches in daytime, 235-236
Falk, Sgt Richard, 188, 191
Faria, Pvt., 62-63
Paris, Lieut. Joseph* W., 93-94,
99, 102, 105, 109-110
Featherstone, Cpl. Nathan, 177
Ferris, 2nd Lieut. Roland R., 255-
Field artillery. See Artillery
Fire bunkers and trenches, place-
ment of, 22-23
Flash fire, 47
Fontaine, Cpl. Robert, 221
Foot, Sgt. Carlin F., 169-170
Ford, Lieut Claude T., 103, 105
Ford, Sgt Horace, 173-178, *88-
Fortifications. See Defensive for-
Freley, Pfc. James, 154
defensive fortifications of op-
posing forces, 21-25
Eighth Army organization of,
in 1953, 23-24, 32-33, 53-
immobility of opposing lines,
Fugett, Pvt., 122
Gabriel, Sgt Edward, 95
Gardner, Pvt. Harold, 297, 302
Gist, Lieut Roy A., 229-231
Godfrey, Pvt., 84, 86
Goodman, Cpl. Troy, 88-89
Gordon, Pvt Rudolph, 145-147
Gothier, Pfc., 296
Grimes, Lieut Robert, 134
Haley, Lieut Edward, 35, 37-38,
Hall, Pvt, 136
Ham, SFC Burton, 76-77, 100,
Hamilton, Sgt Chester F., 255-
Hammond, Cpl. James R., 219,
Hankey, SFC Lewis J., 147
Harris, Pvt James O., 126-127
Hill 172, 250-253
patrol of May 14 from, 253-
patrol of May 18 from, 272-
Hill i9o-Able, 52
Hill 200, 33, 36, 44 (map)
Hill 222, 52
Hill 327, 44 (map)
Hippler, Sgt. Frank, 169-170
Hoffman, Sgt Robert E., 152-153
Holmen, Pfc., 296
Honor men, backgrounds of, 19-
House, Pvt. Lindbergh, 176
Howell, Pvt Roy L., 298-299
Huffman, Sgt Norbert, 148-149
Hughes, Pvt, 84, 89
Hughes, Lieut William D., 263
Hutchins, Sgt., 132
Infantry, tactical employment of,
Jackson, Pvt, 75
Jackson, Pvt Columbus, 177-178
Jackson, Sgt Fred, 70-71, 112
Jeeter, Pvt., 84, 87-89
Jenkins, Sgt. Lovell, 155
Jessup, Pfc., 102
Harrold, Lieut. Thomas V., 114- Johns, Sgt, 36, 38, 42, 45
115, 117-118, 123-124, 128, Johnson, Pvt Earl, 93, 97, 109-
130-132, 135, 137, 143, 150, 110
Hasakkol Hill, 44 (map), 114, 151
Hayford, Pvt, 126-127
Johnson, Cpl. Othelius, 95, 98-
Johnson, Sgt Rollin, 148, 152-153
Heeg, M/S Charles G., 95, 98- Jones, M/S Robert J., 94, 97-99?
99, 105, 109-110
Hemphill, Lieut, 91-94, 99, 101-
Hermman, Lieut George L., 72-
Jones, Cpl. Virgil, 84, 88-89
Kagnew Battalion. See Ethiopian
Kern, Col. William B., 65, 73, 91, Marlowe, Pfc. Dwight, 69
130, 163, 166, 185, 192, 195 Marshall, Lieut. Arthur A., 157,
Kim Tong Ki, Pvt, 120-121
161, 164, 179
Kimmitt, Lieut. Col. Joseph S., Martin, Pvt. James R., 112
43-45, 49, 209, 247
Martinez, Pvt, 35, 37-38, 41
Kinder, Cpl. C. H., 39, 41, 46, Mata, Cpl. George A., 105
King, Capt, 185-189
Kop Chin, Pvt. Koe, 122-123
Maxwell, Pvt. Samuel K., 150
Meadows, Pvt, 48
Midgeley, Sgt Howard, 128, 131
Koreans. See ROK soldiers with Miezejewski, Pfc. Joe, 135, 137
Minor, Pfc. Frank, 66-68
Krause, Pfc. Robert W., 224-227, Misgina, Pvt Kassa, 242-243, 246
Krohn, Sgt Frank, 154-155
Kuzmick, SFC Walter, 145, 147-
Monier, 2nd Lieut. Ronald A.,
212-214, 216-218, 223-228,
150, 155-156, 164-165, 184 Moon, Cpl. Chung Kyung, 58,
Lavoie, Sgt. Joseph, 175, 180-182, Morrow, Maj. Clifford W., 60
Mott, Pvt. Randolph, in action at
Dale Outpost, 66-68, 71, 74,
76; in patrol from Hill 172,
254-256, 258, 261-262
Moulte, Sgt. Ma}. Awilachen,
LeGuire, Pvt. Lester, 255, 257-
Leos, Pvt. Esequiel, 74
Linker, Sgt. George, 182
Linkous, Pfc. Eldridge J., 214-
Locklear, Cpl. William, 176
Long, Pfc. Richard, 125 A/r . ^ , T -
Lopez, SFC Joe, 216, 218-219, Munier, CpL Joseph R., 174-176,
Lopez, Pvt. Julio, 97
Lucas, Pvt Melvin F., 158
Lugo, Sgt Jos, 93
Mullins, Cpl. Donald E., 93, 106,
Murdock, CpL Richard E., 226-
Murphy, 2nd Lieut Donald P.,
32-33, 36, 39, 4i, 43,
MacBrien, Sgt. William, 36, 38, 5
McCall, Lieut. Virgil W., 158 Naparez, Pvt., 84-86, 90, 264,
McDaniel, SFC Kenneth, 47-48
McKinley, Pfc. Robert, 81-86, 90 Nesbitt, Lieut. John, 170
Maliszewski, Lieut. Col. George Newton, Sgt. Edward, 173-176,
Nezbella, Pfc. Thomas, 87
73, 79-8o, 92-94, 101-
Manning, Pfc., 97
Noel, Cpl. Robert L., 136-137
Norcross, M/S Aubrey, 168
Norman, Cpl., 39
O'Brien, Pvt. Paul F., 259, 265-
O'Hashi, Lieut. Tsugi, 152, 161,
Old Baldy Hill, 44 (map), 53,
O'Meara, Brig. Gen. Andrew P.,
O'Steen, Lieut. Ernest Clark,
255-256, 259, 262-263, 270
Outposts, organization of, 33, 53-
Pak Song, Pvt., 147
Palmer, Pfc. Garbell H., 109-110
Paris, Lieut., 173, 175, 179
Parker, Cpl Terrell G., 97, 109
Patrick, Lieut. Stephen J., 212,
Able Company, 3ist Rgt, at
Hill 172, 272, 275, 280-291
Baker Company, 3ist Rgt, at
Hill 172, 253-271, 275-285
Charley Company, i7th Rgt.,
at Arsenal Hill, 212-232
Ethiopian, from Alligator's
Jaw's Hill, 201-211; from
Yoke Outpost, 237-249
tactical use of, 133
weakness in methods of, 18-19
Patterson, Pvt, 175
Patteson, Lieut Jack M,, 53, 60-
62, 65, 72-73, 75-80, 90, 92-
Paul, Elliot, quoted, 20
Pedrick, Lieut E. H., 276-277,
Pennington, Pfc, John R., 100
Pfaff, Pvt Duane C., 56, 58-59,
6l-62, 65-66, 68-71, 112
Pidgeon, Sgt Henry W., 134-
Pokkae Hill, 36, 44 (map)
Poole, Sgt. Lovell, 134-138, 142
Pork Chop Hill, 44 (map), 53,
assault against main positions,
attempt by Love Company to
Communist advance past out-
guard line, 120-123
fortifications of, 117, 119-120
patrol engaged by enemy, 133-
re-enforcement by King Com-
relief by companies from i7th
Posey, M/S Edward L., 174-178
Pratt, SFC Carl, 123, 125-126,
Pratt, Sgt Robert W., 219, 221,
Princeton Hill, 151
Ramey, Pvt., 35, 37, 50
Rasch, Lieut R, F., 283, 287
Rawles, Pfc., 138-140, 142
Reasor, SFC Robert C., in ac-
tion at Dale Outpost, 56-58,
61, 65-66, 7*-7 2 > 74"75r 108;
in patrol from Hill 172, 254,
Rector, Cpl. James L., 97
Red Chinese. See CCF
Reed, Pvt William H., 255-257
i7th Infantry, at Pork Chop
Hill, 142, 159-196; in pa-
trol of May 10, 212-232; in
action at Snook Outpost,
3ist Infantry, in action at Dale
Outpost, 52-113; in battle of
Pork Chop Hill, 114-196; in
patrol actions at Hill 172,
32nd Infantry, in action on Ar-
senal Hill, 32-51
Renfrew, Cpl., 126-127
Rice, Pvt, 126
Richards, Pvt. Jim, 48
Riddle, Pvt. Charles, 216-218,
Riepenhoff, Cpl., 128
Rivera, Pfc. Antonio, 81, 87-89
Roads, front-line, 22
Robart, Pfc., 296
Robertson, Sgt, 189
Robbins, Sgt. Jack D., 216-217,
Rodriguez, Pvt., 87-88
Rodriguez, Pvt. Felipe, 59
Rodriguez, Pfc. Rivera W., 69
ROK soldiers with U.S. units,
failure in combat of, 18, 62,
68, 74-75, 85, 269, 284-285
Service Corps, 162
Rossrilli, Cpl. Robert, 153
Rotation, effect on combat-unit
strength of, 14, 18, 59
Russell, Lieut. Walter B., 159-
Sa Soo, Pvt. Chim, 284
St. Nicholas, Pvt. Jos6, 121
St. Pierre, Pvt. Reynald, 266
Sakai, Pvt. Freddie, 300-301, 303
Sakasegawa, Pvt. George, 301-302
Sales, Pfc. Eddie, 58
Sanchez, Pvt. Anthony P., 93-94
Schindel, Sgt. Joe J., 94
Schlehofer, Sgt. Woodrow L.,
95, 105, iio-iii
Schulz, Sgt. Ferdinand, 99
Scully, Pfc., 60, 63
Seggara, Cpl. Angel, 48
Serpa, Pvt, 63-65, 71, 78, 112
Sessons, Pvt. John R., 112
Settle, Cpl. Henry T., 136
7th Infantry Division, 14-18
disposition of, 32
Headquarters decision on Pork
Chop battle, 163, 166, 184-
Sharpe, Cpl., 48
Shitta, Lieut. Col Wolde
Yohanis, 208, 210
Shiveley, Pvt., 48
Shivishe, Cpl. Ayelow, 242
Shuman, Cpl. Edward, 72, 74-75
^PfOTgrT^ 284, 287-289
Small, Pvt, 62-63"
Small, Pvt. Deforest, 99, 107,
Smith, Lieut Gorman, 192-195
Smith, Pfc. Joseph E., 55-56, 59,
62-65, 71, 78, 112
Smith, Sgt Robert L., 59-65, 71,
Snook Outpost, 44 (map), 292-
action at, 294-304
Soon, Pvt Pak Hak, 219, 221-
SpaJcs, Pfc. Clarence L., 102,
Spencer, Sgt Chapman T., 70,
Stewart, Sgt. Clark D., 112
Strauss, SFC, 268-269
Streit, Pvt James R., 106, no
Summers, Lieut, 179
Sung Man, Pvt. Cho, 121-123
Supply roads, 22, 33, 181
Swaguer, Pvt John, 176
Swazey, Major, 124
Sykes, Pfc, William W., 153-154
T-Bone Hill, 44 (map)
Ethiopian patrol onto, 235
CCF: ambushes of UN patrols,
216-217, 256-271, 280-291;
attack techniques, 20-21, 35-
39> 55-58, 129; organization
of front, 24-26
UN: organization of front, 23-
24, 26, 33, 53-54
Tanks. See Armor
Tariku, Capt Behanu, 237, 246-
Taylor, Sgt, 137-142, 262, 268
Taylor, Lieut Col. Royall, 45
Thacher, Pvt, 87-89
Thompson, Cpl. Dee, 255, 257-
Thun, Lieut. Jack K., 32-33, 36,
Tierney, 2nd Lieut. John J., 262-
Tilahullninguse, Pvt. 206-208
Transeau, Sgt George, 296-298,
at Dale Outpost, 54, 57
on Pork Chop Hill, 117
weaknesses of, 21-24, 26
See also Defensive fortifications
Trudeau, Maj. Gen, Arthur G.,
163, 166, 184, 192, 195, 289,
Tully, Lieut Col., 193
Uncle Outpost, 44 (map), 237
Communist attack of May 19,
Valeho, Cpl. Sisto M., 105, no
Vance, Sgt F. C., 35-36, 42
Vandvier, Pfc. Buddy W., 85
Van Way, Col., 44
Varela, SFC Julio S., 213, 218-
Volk, Cpl. Wilfred, 147
Waldemarian, Pvt Mano, 208
Waldetekle, CpL Tiggu, 204-208
Weber, Pfc. Kenneth, 138-142
Welcher, Sgt. William, 85
Westview Outpost, 44 (map), 53
White Horse Hill, 32, 44 (map)
Williams, Pvt, 137
Williams, Pvt Ben, 172, 174-178
Williams, Pfc. Nathaniel, 58
Wilson, Lieut Harold, 124
Wilson, Pvt. Jimmy R., 227, 229-
Woll, Pvt, 138-139
Wokeak, Pvt. John, 39, 46, 48
Woo, Pvt. Lee Chang, 56
Wright, Cpl. Harold E., 84-86
Yoke Outpost, 44 (map), 237
Ethiopian patrol of May 19,
Yokkokchon Valley, position of
Erie and Arsenal hills in, 31,
view from Hill 327, 236
Yokum, Lieut. Glenn R., 80-90
Young, Pvt. Augustus T., 97
Yukonsi, Pvt., 207-208
1 24 446