Air drop east of Chosin with most supplies falling outside the Inlet perimeter. Photo courtesy MSGT Bill Donovan, L 3/31

The Changjin Journal is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history.
See End Notes for distribution and other notices. Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret., Chosin Historian,
Byron Sims, Contributing Editor

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THIS ISSUE of the Changjin Journal we continue our review of the Marine Corps pamphlet titled FROZEN CHOSIN: U.S. Marines at the Changjin Reservoir, by retired Marine historian BGen Edwin H. Simmons. This journal will be presented as filler material to that already published in the pamphlet. See Changjin Journal 10.10.04 for part one of this review series.


The Marine Corps publication FROZEN CHOSIN is excellent reading. As stated in the masthead, this publication is "one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the Korean War era, is published for the education and training of Marines ... as part of the DOD observance of the 50th anniversary of that war."


p.65  We read that Faith, as senior surviving officer of the 31st RCT, "would go into the collective memory of the Korean War as 'Task Force Faith,' although it would never officially bear that name." This once again reveals the power of the written word, that Faith's assumption of command automatically created a new organization called "Task Force Faith." It exists, although "it would never officially bear that name." For those readers not familiar with the original use of the term, the source is Russell Gugeler based on interviews with members of Faith's 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry (1/32), and does not include other units which fought east of Chosin. This probably confused early historians of Chosin, faced later by authors Eric Hammel, Roy Appleman and Clay Blair. After that use of the term became the routine.


We often ask, where did the term Task Force MacLean and Task Force Faith originate? Our research takes us to the first publication about action east of the reservoir, Chapter 6, Chosin Reservoir, in the book Combat Actions in Korea by Russell Gugeler, originally published in 1954, updated in 1970.

This chapter is based on interviews by Martin Blumenson with members of Faith's 1/32 Infantry after they returned from North Korea; there were no interviews with members of the other battalions and smaller units which made up RCT 31. Gugeler did use a limited number of sworn statements as well as official reports of X Corps and 7th Infantry Division.

As we track the document's terminology we find reference to MacLean and the 31st Infantry Regiment, and the other attached units which would make up  "all units on the east side of the reservoir." Here we also see reference to the mission of "MacLean's task force" and that of "Colonel Faith's battalion." Noted is that the term "31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT 31)" is never used in this chapter.

As we read on we find "MacLean's force," "MacLean's task force," "his task force," and finally "Colonel Faith assumed command and organized all remaining personnel into a task force." (This happened after MacLean disappeared and Faith arrived at the Inlet.) Note that the author used "remaining personnel" and not unit designations which made up Faith's command.

Then we find that General Hodes had formed a "task force and was attempting to join them," then mentioning "Colonel MacLean's surrounded battalions."

We then see the first reference to Task Force Faith: "Fighter planes made a strike on high ground around Task Force Faith....", then "Task Force Faith had been under attack for eighty hours in subzero weather."

During the breakout we read "Colonel Faith's task disintegrated completely...." The final reference came "most of the men who had served with Task Force Faith were left where the truck column stopped near the lumber village of Hudong-ni, or were strewn along the road from there to the northernmost position.”


"A helicopter sent in from Hagaru-ri by General Hodes took out the two wounded battalion commanders, Reilly and Embree." Let us add to this the story of the evacuation of the regimental surgeon, Dr. H. J. Galloway, who was wounded in the Hill 1221 ambush of Medical Company the night of 27 November, was driven to the 3/31 aid station at the Inlet with a bullet wound to his brain, then later evacuated by helicopter. He eventually returned to practice medicine at Walter Reed Army Hospital. The number of evacuees increases when we read a 1951 letter from Dr. Sterling Morgan, battalion surgeon of Reilly's 3/31, who had written to Galloway in 1951, stating "you were one of eight or twelve wounded who were removed by Marine helicopters (and that's all the wounded that ever got out except the few walking wounded)." We are now dealing with 8 to 12 who had been evacuated by chopper, although the exact number will never be known. Evacuation priority of the day is seen by 109 marines having been evacuated by helicopter from Yudam-ni.

This photo is inside the Inlet perimeter. Notice the background, right in the center of the picture, you can see three helicopters that have just landed to pick up wounded. They landed about 400 yards left (SW) of the bridge. The men just below the bank are going out to assist in the loading. - Photo courtesy MSGT Bill Donovan, L 3/31.


Command responsibility. We now attempt to determine who was responsible for the evacuation of the hundreds of casualties accumulating at the Inlet. The nearest command with evacuation capabilities was General Smith's 1st Marine Division at Hagaru-ri, only eight miles from the Inlet. Since he was not responsible for RCT 31 until the evening of 29 November, we must place
responsibility on X Corps since they ordered the 7th Division to move RCT 31 to the Chosin area. One could argue that General Barr was responsible, but since he didn't have a helicopter air evacuation capability, we'll have to look elsewhere for a culprit. By the time Faith assumed command the number of wounded was in the hundreds, with Reilly and Embree and Galloway being names for the history books. By then the solution was far beyond the air-evac capability of a few helicopters.

Since General Barr's resources at that moment did not extend to the Inlet east of Chosin, we could still hold him responsible, couldn't we? Yet, since the higher command ordered Barr to send an RCT into the Marines sector east of Chosin we would identify the corps commander as the culprit, right? Yes, very true, we could smatter the landscape with accusations of neglect. But since none of them knew the enemy plans how could we blame them, any more than blame O.P. Smith? No, Smith comes into the arena of responsibility only when notified that all Army units the Chosin area were attached to his command.

Since Corps gave responsibility to Smith on the night of 29 November, not "0800 the morning of 30 November" as some believe, who was responsible for Faith's command at the moment he arrived at the Inlet? Faith was responsible.

We then ask, what did Faith do to fulfill his command responsibility that was not within his capability at the Inlet? Did he do anything? Did he yell loud and clear over whatever radio he could get hold of and ask for help? What help did he ask for? As you can see, our magic wand of hindsight can go on and on asking questions to which there are few answers. Are we really trying to establish responsibility or are we looking for a scapegoat?

Did Faith give Stamford a detailed message for Barr or Smith? No, apparently he didn't. Did Barr or Smith contact him with a request for his needs? No, apparently they didn't. The only thing that seems to have happened was Barr's visit to Faith when he was no longer under Barr's command during which he apparently had a fatherly talk, telling Faith "you're on your own, there's nothing more we can do for you." Yes, it must have been something like that.

Faith was left holding the bag and in the end he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and his command of RCT 31 carried his name -- Task Force Faith. He died for a cause that we continue our attempt to define, an abrupt ending when survivors of that debacle still believe there is more to learn. Missing in this pamphlet is the fact that Faith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his service while his command was attached to the 1st Marine Division. See pages 114-117, Medals of Honor, which do not contain the names or photographs of Army Medal of Honor recipients Lt. Col. Don C. Faith and Lt. Col. John U.D. Page.


p.66-7 "Drysdale found Captain Clarke an 'opinionated young man.' Drysdale wanted the tanks distributed throughout the length of the column. Clarke insisted that they be kept together at the head of the column to punch their way through. Drysdale resumed his advance at 1530, with 17 tanks leading the way...."

p.68 Major McLaughlin's actions reminds us that Lt. Hodges Escue, a 31st Infantry liaison officer, was with McLaughlin when they left Koto-ri. During the ensuing action by the Chinese cutting up the column, they were separated, and since he was essentially alone and didn't know anyone around him he took his driver and interpreter off to the west to bypass the column because his  mission was to join RCT 31. He got as far as Hagaru-ri where his safe passage was the result of a Marine machine gun that had jammed,.

p.69 The photograph showing a "gaggle of Marines" watching an air strike off in the distance once again reveals that the enemy was never a serious threat to the Koto-ri perimeter.

Photo of officers and men watching airstrike, standing next to Koto-ri tents; reveals clothing worn at the time. Bare hands indicates it was not a very cold day. - Photo courtesy Lt. "Gus" Guth, 185th Engineer Battalion.

With the second photo of snow-covered tents one reads "Unseen are the fighting holes of the Marine infantry that encircled the camp." This will arouse grunts from Army infantrymen who manned half of the Koto-ri perimeter. Koto-ri was not "midway between Hagaru-ri and the Funchilin Pass," but more like halfway to Chinhung-ni at the bottom of the pass. The distance to Hagaru-ri was 11 miles, whereas the pass was but three miles. Today we wonder why the perimeter was not on the commanding terrain controlling the pass rather than at a road junction. The "pass" is the highest point of ground that divides the  watersheds, north to the Yalu River or south to the Yellow Sea.


p.71 "Sung Shilun was amazingly well informed as to exactly what his opponents were doing.... Chinese reconnaissance was good; and Korean civilians, including line crossers, were at least as useful to the Chinese as they were to the Americans. Moreover, he apparently had a serviceable quantity of signal intelligence from radio intercepts. Stymied by the Marines' stubborn defense at Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri, he decided to finish off the US Army forces east of the reservoir by adding the weight of the 81st Division to the 80th Division already engaged against Task Force Faith." This is where we find an important difference in the presentation of the enemy, what the Chinese commander was thinking and what his units were doing.


Our thoughts go back to Mao's Generals which causes us to see the situation as being more than "adding weight." We recall John Toland's view as more accurate, Toland being the only author who had visited Beijing during his research. In CJ 11.27.03 we reported "Three days earlier, Peng realized the number of enemy troops he was facing at the Chosin Reservoir was double the original estimate. He decided to concentrate the forces of the Ninth Army on the weakest link of the reservoir defense: Task Force MacLean.... Now Peng owned everything east of the reservoir and could concentrate on the other side -- the Marines." As we have addressed previously, Peng's main effort was the direct route down the east side of the reservoir to capture the linchpin of his grand strategy, Hagaru-ri, thereby cutting off the Marine forces at Yudam-ni


p.72 Reference to X Corps OpOrder 8, 29 November. "Almond placed under Smith's command all Army troops in the Chosin area..., effective 0800 the next morning." Why the author added the statement "including Task Force Faith and all Army elements at Hagaru-ri" is a mystery. The order to Smith to "coordinate all forces in and north of Hagaru-ri in a perimeter defense based on Hagaru-ri" brings up more questions because Smith never did communicate with Faith and provide him instructions to carry out this order; nor have historians addressed this subject in any detail in the past. Smith's reported agreement with Barr that "not much could be done" in no way relieved him of responsibility for carrying out the instructions of the Corps commander.

X Corps Operation Order 8 was effective at 2100 hours, 29 November. The division staff had the entire night to ponder over the ramifications of this order and come up with recommendations for General Smith.

30 November. "General Barr, who had established an advance command post at Hungnam, was among those present. After the briefing, Barr -- whether at Almond's suggestion or on his own initiative is not clear –- flew to Hagaru-ri." Barr, with his rear command post at Hungnam, did not fly based on suggestions, nor did he fly to Hagaru-ri based on his own initiative; he was following orders of the Corps commander.

We then read "Smith asked Hodes to draft a message advising Faith that his command was now attached to the 1st Marine Division." Why didn't Smith instruct his G-3 staff to prepare the message and send it on to Faith? Why Hodes, when he was no longer in the chain of command and was not in communication with Faith? In Appleman’s Escaping the Trap, p.128,"General Barr told General Smith that, to avoid possible embarrassment for all concerned and to avoid the semblance of conflict in command, he would recall BG Hodes from Hagaru-ri.... Hodes apparently returned to the coast that day." [Source: Col Bowser, G-3 of 1MarDiv]. Be it known, there's nothing more wasteful than a general officer without authority.

p.72-3 We then enter an interesting play on words, fallout from Almond, Barr, Smith and Hodes, about what to do with RCT 31. "After Almond had departed, Barr and Smith agreed that not much could be done for RCT 31...." Throughout these years since 1950, many Chosin survivors have wondered if the two generals considered ways to help Faith other than by the commitment of troops units. Did they address other options? Was the status and mission of units at Hudong-ni discussed? We don't know. Once again we wonder if they discussed the need for establishing communication and liaison with Faith which would give them the ability to assess Faith's needs and how he could be helped. Once again, doing nothing signed the death warrant for RCT 31.

p.72 "Draft a msg advising Faith that his command was now attached to 1MarDiv. Barr at this point was out of the operational chain of command to Faith, but RCT 31 was still, of course, part of the 7th Inf Div." Here the words "attach" and "operational" are important because the attachment of RCT 31 to Smith passes to him responsibility for that unit and relieves Barr from responsibility for operations and logistics; in effect, RCT 31 took on the same status as Marine RCT 1, 5 and 7. This fact of military history has hardly been touched by historians in the past by writing off Faith's command as a lost cause which in turn relieves O.P. Smith of responsibility. When Barr went to visit Faith we agree that he "presumably informed Faith of the changed command status," and that "not much could be done for RCT 31...."


P.72-3 "Almond shrugged. He then directed Smith and Barr to work out a time-phased plan to pull back the three army battalions of RCT-31...." Furthermore, if Faith failed to execute his orders, Almond opined that he should be relieved." These many decades later we now begin to see through Almond, coming to realize that he knew little at the time about what was going on north of Hagaru-ri on the east side of the reservoir. The problem here is that we have no report on the briefings given to Almond by Smith or Barr, realizing both of them were in the dark because there had never been direct communications with MacLean or his successor, Don Faith. Also, we have no knowledge about Barr's actions or discussion with Smith after he returned from his visit with Faith. Each of the incidents we address in  this issue continue to raise more questions to which there are no answers. Those who knew are long gone.


p.73 "... the 31st Tank company at Hudong-ni, with 1st Marine Division approval, had fallen back to Hagaru-ri." This will cause readers to believe Smith reacted to a request from Hudong-ni that needed division "approval." This was not the case, as the Hudong-ni units were ordered to withdraw by radio message from Hagaru-ri.

Rasula to Witte, 29 Nov 1991
"The pullout from Hudong. One thing I recall about Hudong is that I had a helluva bad cold, felt nasty most of the time. Reminds me that in my Dear Lucy letters from Untaek telling about MacLean having a very bad cold and the regimental surgeon telling him to stay in bed or he'd be evacuated. Anyway ... whatever sleep we got was at odd hours. I recall being snuggled up in my warm sleeping bag in another room. Someone awakened me, could have been Rolin Skilton, in the daylight, heard small arms rounds hitting the schoolhouse, pulled on boots and some clothes and rushed out the back where a few of us took positons behind the berm. That was the incoming being
received just before the pullout. I believe the reason I don't remember who told us to pull out is because I was asleep at the time. However, for some reason, I have long pointed the finger at Anderson [who would have acted on the message]. Appleman writes that the order came from Hagaru via the tank radio  which Hodes rode to Hagaru, the source being Bob Drake."


p.74 We read interesting coverage of units of the 1st Marines defending against the CCF second attack on Hagaru-ri the night of 30 November, noting that part of the 41 Commando, Royal Marines (from the Drysdale operation the previous day), was also involved. However, there is no mention of the defensive actions by the Army 31st Tank Company and others from Hudong-ni
that had taken up the northeast perimeter sector at the base of East Hill. The main assault by the Chinese from East Hill came directly into the defenses of Tank Company where the next morning more than 200 dead were counted in front of two of Drake's tanks. As we have emphasized in past
writings, the Chinese did not have the capability of making rapid changes in their plans. In this case they planned an attack against a weak sector of the perimeter, that which was reinforced by Drake's tanks and a few hundred Army soldiers shortly before dark, a time when the Chinese force on the back side of East Hill was already on the move to their attack positions. Once again the enemy suffered because he lacked the capability to make timely changes in plans.


p.75 We learn that "Until the airstrip was operational, aerial evacuation of the most serious cases had been limited to those that could be flown out by the nine helicopters and 10 light aircraft ... which also had many other missions to perform" and "From 27 November to 1 December ... had lifted out 152 casualties -- 109 from Yudam-ni, 36 from Hagaru-ri, and 7 from Koto-ri." We add to these numbers eight or 10 that had been evacuated from the Inlet east of Chosin.

Two soldiers from the 31st Infantry used their cameras in the Inlet area. This photo by Sgt. Ivan Long shows how far off the mark the drop was made. Although they were able to recover some of the packages, most of the drop fell too close to the Chinese positions on the higher ground.


p.77 "On the morning of 1 December, Lt. Col. Faith, on his own initiative, began his breakout.... He did not have a solid radio link to the 1st Marine Division, and had nothing more than a chancy relay through ... Stanford's tactical air control net." Not mentioned is the radio message that Smith
asked be sent to Faith, telling him he was on his own. One source said it was received about the time the breakout began, while another states it was received when the column arrived at the first blown bridge. The guessing game continues.

"... reliance on the automatic weapons fire of the tracked weapons carriers, down to three in number, two quad 50s and one dual 40mm." Faith asked for ammo drops the day before and very little was received, some falling into enemy hands. The much- needed 40mm was dropped at Hudong-ni,
while the tank ammunition fell at the Inlet. Such was the logistics support for Faith's command shortly before rifleman would be down to one clip with which to assault Hill 1221. Above were the aircraft flush with undelivered ordnance waiting for calls from one forward air controller who was busy most of the time keeping up with Faith. Daylight was fading rapidly as aircraft soon departed for their carriers. The end came violently for many as a few made it to the ice and beyond.

p.79 When Almond visited Smith that same Saturday, he had, in Smith's words, 'very little to say about the tactical situation. He is no longer urging me to destroy equipment.' "Students of Chosin continue to wonder why writers continue to say that Almond urged Smith to destroy equipment when, if one studies the details, Almond did nothing more than authorize Smith to destroy
equipment if needed so as not to delay his withdrawal. Here again we see the tendency to find fault with the next higher command; a smokescreen.


p.78 "Dr. Hering, the division surgeon, reported to Smith [that among the evacuees] was a large number of malingerers. 'Unfortunately,' Smith entered in his log, 'there are a good many Army men, not casualties who got on planes. Men got on stretchers, pulled a blanket over themselves and did a
little groaning, posing as casualties'...." The time has come to state publicly that "Army men" were not the only malingerers, although this minor happening is seen as yet another smokescreen. Why the smoke? Because "they" don't want to admit their own men were also among the malingerers. We regret that finding fault with the "others" had become such a cancer among survivors of the Chosin campaign.

>From personal experience. On the night of 1-2 December Lt. Escue and I were at the H/11 Artillery CP/FDC hut helping the soldiers who came off the ice, getting them back to the medical facilities within the Hagaru-ri perimeter. This was where the full horror of broken human beings was seen, men who had fought for five nights and four days without adequate food and sleep and warm shelter in sub-zero temperatures without adequate clothing and equipment, then running out of ammunition at a time they were trying to save their wounded buddies in the truck column, all because of fate, because they happened to be there at that time. In the semi-darkness of that hut a ROK soldier placed his hands in mine; they were solid ice. One look into the eyes of those soldiers announced the trauma each of them would experience for the rest of their lives. I close with one more memory. During a reunion on the coast in Beaufort, S.C., next to Parris Island, I talked with a few much-admired "sea-soldiers" about the Dr. Hering incident. Each of them freely said "don't let it bother you, we had marines in our own outfit who did the same." - GAR

With that, we close this issue of the Changjin Journal with a letter from one who had been there and understands. [Text from MLA about the Frozen Chosin pamphlet.]

An open letter to the men of the 31st RCT, 7th Infantry Division (the men east of Chosin, November and December of 1950). In regards to the [pamphlet] that the Chosin Few sent to all its members this last month, entitled Frozen Chosin, U.S. Marines at the Changjin Reservoir, by Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons. If you have not received yours yet, you will. Happy reading.

I just received my Frozen Chosin, U.S. Marines at the Changjin Reservoir. I haven't read the whole thing, I just glared through the pages, but, wait, on page 78, one reads, "Dr. Hering, the Division Surgeon, reported that 919 casualties went out on December 1, but that among them was a large number of malingerers. Smith entered in his log, "there a good many army men not casualties who got on planes." (This was referring to army soldiers getting on the evacuation planes from Hagaru.)

It never ceases to amaze me at the writing of the Marine historians. They seem to deliberately try to make the U.S. Army seem inferior. Our Army, its leadership, are always put down. Apparently they think that by putting the Army down this will make them look better.

But in the eyes of who? We who were there would recall to their minds, that it was the Marines, themselves, who were advising and helping these so-called malingerers on the planes. Because they were the mentally ill (combat fatigue) and they were of no use to us!! (They were more of a liability.) I hate like hell in writing this letter, but the Marines inferiority complex always shows up in their writings and once and for all I would like to set the record straight about this incident that happened so long ago. And just for the record, if you should read James Brady's book (James Brady, former Marine and Korean veteran), The Marines of Autumn, on page 187 he writes, "A few marines tried that stunt, too!! (James Brady, one honest Marine.) From one who was there, I'll tell you that there were more than a few marines, not casualties, who were getting on those planes, but no one has ever mentioned that, no, for they were Marines and Marines don't do those things!! (Bullshit!!)

Also on page 101 in Marines at the Changjin Reservoir, it reads, "Marines, disdainful of the Army's performance east of the Reservoir, learned in the march out from Hagaru that soldiers, properly led, were not much different from themselves. (Marines’ inferiority complex, jumps out of those pages.) I haven't read this magazine, just a page here and a page there, nor don't think that I'll read it. I've read enough!!

In conclusion, I would like to apologize to the men of the 31st Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, for if not for them, I wouldn't be here today writing this letter. For it took fifty years for them to get full recognition for their heroic action east of Chosin, I salute you and I respect you for your efforts in that November and December of 1950. For if not for you, Hagaru would have been overrun and the 1st Marine Division would have been history. For they owe you their lives and for you to be treated in this manner, shame, shame on the Marines.

For fifty-three years, you the men of the 31st RCT have never responded to this Marine bashing, maybe it's because you believe what the Marines write about you, or, I hope, that you have better things to do. I know that Col. George A. Rasula has written about your great efforts east of Chosin, but he is only one man. It's time that we hear from you who walked out of the east side of the reservoir to Hagaru. You have my permission to make as many copies of this letter as you like, sign it and mail it to the author of this pamphlet ... or make your own letter.... So let's hear from you men of the 31st RCT because we are not getting any younger and this may be your last hurrah. Wear your medals proudly for you were the savior of this Chosin breakout!

I will not sign this letter because my chapter members would excommunicate and brand me a turncoat. I'll sign as one who was there. Thank you again and I'll see you at the reunions. I am the one who will shake your hand and tell you how much respect I have for the men of the 7th Division, especially the men of the 31st.
Semper Fidelis Pro Patria


We will conclude our review of FROZEN CHOSIN in the next issue.

For copy of pamphlet FROZEN CHOSIN contact the Chosin Few Business Office,
238 Cornwall Circle, Chalfont, PA 18914-2318. <>

END CJ 11.11.04