Changjinwalkaway3.jpg (11651 bytes)
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

You can use Ctrl-F to search for words within this page.



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

IN THIS ISSUE we continue the subject of readiness by presenting comments from readers as well as other sources. It's difficult to compare the lack of readiness experienced in 1950 with contemporary comments on the same subject, for the problem today appears to be quantity rather than quality. In 1950 it was both. Let us remember that the units first deployed - those "first to fight" such as the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions - drew down on the readiness of those that followed, thereby compounding their readiness status, topics covered in CJ 08.06.00.


"You may get some comments from Marines on your report on the mobilization of the 1st Marine Division. The brigade was made up of the 5th Marines, which was the only regiment in the 1st Marine Division at the time, and had only two rifle companies per battalion. It went as is. The 1st Marines were formed from two battalions of the 2nd Marines, and the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Mar Div, at Camp Lejeune, plus fillers from posts and stations. It arrived in Japan in time to take part in the assault at Inchon. Initially there was to be only two regiments in the division. But about a week later it was decided to fill the division out to full strength. The 7th Marines were then formed from the remaining battalion of the 6th Marines at Camp Lejeune, the other battalion in the Mediterranean and a battalion to be formed from scratch. It arrived at Inchon on D + 3. Most of this is in the reference, Policy and Direction, pages 160-165." - Patrick C. Roe <<>


Thank you for your journals. From l946 to l948 in the 505 PIR 82nd there were only two battalions. The other two consisted of Hqs Co. which had a MG platoon, 81mm mortar platoon and a Commo platoon. There wasn't any lst Bn. . . . In reality there were just enough men for one full battalion. We went to the rifle range once in l8 months. We had to buy our own jump boots, no jump pants or jackets and most important no Airborne Tab on the Division Patch.

The Division got the Tab back Christmas l949. The newspapers used to say "Crack 82nd Airborne Division" which was true in l942-l945. But the truth was it was only a shell of its former self. Since l950 I have always felt for those men who went into almost instant combat and then were criticized for their efforts. Ed Boyle "tyrone" <<>


The following is from TRACES of the Indiana Historical Society, Summer 2000 issue, which contains articles based on Marine Corps reserve units in Indiana that provided replacements for the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton when they were preparing for Korea. This quotation relates to preparedness.

"But if the weekly volunteer meetings at sites such as Evansville failed to prepare reservists for handling weapons and for unexpected combat, Marine Corps officials believed the two-week volunteer summer camps might fill the void. The national director of the reserves even boldly declared in 1948 that the military efficiency of his command as a potential fighting force, able to take its place alongside the regular service, 'increased 100 percent over 1947' because of summer camp training. Contrary to this assessment, summer camp participation, which was voluntary, fell off from 54 percent in 1948 to 47 percent in 1949.

"In reality both weekly sessions and summer camps failed to prepare reservists for the rigors of actual combat. 'Once-a-week nighttime drills inhibited training,' as one Marine Corps historian noted, 'and summer camps were not well attended. More significantly, new recruits did not attend boot camp or receive advanced training.' The reservists were 'largely untrained and many [had] joined for social and athletic reasons.' The result of these circumstances was a 'reserve unprepared for war.' Some reservists' experiences in the training process led them to believe the drills and camps were a monumental waste as well. Said one disgruntled veteran, 'I witnessed nothing but confusion, disorder, overspending...and everything but sound constructive training."

Since shipboard training cannot compare with squad battle-drill on a live-fire range, we can conclude that those reservists experienced on-the-job training at Inchon, Seoul and Chosin. The concluding paragraph verifies the result of battlefield experience.

"Several of these Hoosier reservists died fighting in Korea, while many others forever bore great physical and emotional scars. General O.P. Smith, commander of the First Division at the time of the Evansville reservists' tour, commended this and other reserve units when he noted, 'When I was detached from the Division in April of 1951, 51 percent of the Division was composed of reserves, and in my opinion it was a better Division than the one I brought to Korea.' "


"The Marine who had never fired a rifle before was not an exception. We had number of reservists who may have been NCOs, in the reserve, but had never been to enough summer camps to have fired the range. Nevertheless, they learned quickly. Lt Gen "Brute" Krulak (father of Charles Krulak, former commandant) wrote a book First to Fight which can be found in paperback in some used bookstores, in which he talks about the mobilization of the 1st Mar Div under the theory 'be prepared to go with what you've got.' We did.

"On the plus side, we had a great backbone of experienced NCOs. We also had some pretty good 2nd Lt platoon commanders. My class, for example, had a full year of training, nine month of instruction at Basic School plus three months of helping train PLCs and midshipmen for the summer, then another year in the FMF working with our platoons intensively under some very experienced and capable leadership. In my battalion, 3/7, the CO,XO, S3 and all the company commanders had prior combat experience. In addition, speaking of my class again, seventy-five percent of them, including myself, were former NCOs with anywhere from three to seven years prior experience. Keep Warm, and Keep Up the Good Work." - Pat Roe <<>


Now that we have looked at the readiness status of those organizations that fought battles in Northeast Korea, we plan next to look into terrain and weather. Military topographic maps contain invaluable information about hills and valleys, roads and trails and their limitations, rivers and bridges, and many other elements essential to planning military operations. We invite those who fought the battle of the ridges at Chosin to send their comments, so we can send them on to others. Send to:

During the Chosin campaign the X Corps came up with a new plan which had the 1MarDiv at Yudam-ni attack to the west to pinch off the CCF then attacking the Eighth Army. The terrain west of Yudam is a classic example of where not to commit a division at that time of year. We understand the tendency for a planner in the comfort of a higher headquarters to draw sweeping lines across the map and suggest an operation for Patton to relieve Bastogne; but for North Korea that planner must get his eyeball close to a 1:50,000 map and ask himself what the rifle company commander will see when he looks at that same map on the ground.


The Changjin Journal can now be found on the homepages of the New York Military Affairs Symposium. This is a great starting place for those interested in military history. In time block before 1900 you can begin with Ancient Warfare and work your way to the Civil War. After 1900 you can begin with World War I and continue to the Gulf War, and more! You can click on new Source Materials in Military History (full text articles) and find the Changjin Journal and others.

For direct access to the Changjin Journal go to



You can use Ctrl-F to search for words within these Journals -or-

Search the Changjin Journal and the entire NYMAS site:



IN THIS ISSUE We will provide background material about the divisions which made up the Tenth Corps as well as their readiness status at the beginning of the war.

BACK TO BASICS Questions asked by recipients of the Journal have not been limited to former military personnel who served in Korea. They come from a variety of persons interested in the subject. During my travels this summer I have been asked many questions, many quite basic, such as "what is a battalion, how big is it?" Questions point out that many do not know there is a difference between an Army division and a Marine division, thinking they are the same because they are called a "division." For that reason we will include a short refresher course.

DIVISIONS The divisions in the Korean War were essentially the same as World War II, using the same Table of Organization & Equipment (TO&E). The ARMY INFANTRY DIVISION, with a TO&E of about 18,000 personnel, has three infantry regiments with each regiment having three infantry battalions, and a battalion with three rifle companies and one heavy weapons company, and a rifle company having three rifle platoons and one weapons platoon, and a rifle platoon having three rifle squads and one weapons squad. In other words, a triangular organization, these being called "combat units." The infantry regiment also has its own tank company, heavy mortar company, as well as administrative and service units. The division has "combat support" units which include the division artillery, "DivArty" having three 105mm howitzer battalion and one 155mm howitzer battalion, these battalions supporting the infantry units in various combinations. Other combat support units are the tank battalion and the combat engineer battalion, anti-aircraft battalion, all providing direct or general support to infantry units. The last category is service support, units such as medics, quartermaster, ordnance, engineer construction, transportation and units which perform various administrative functions.

The MARINE DIVISION is very similar to the above with two exceptions: it has units which provide its amphibious capability for assault landings, and also its own aviation element for combat air support. Because of this, the division's authorized strength is about 25,000. When one studies Chosin actions one finds that the lettering system in the infantry battalion different between the services. The rifle companies in a Marine regiment are A, B & C for the 1st Bn, D, E, F for the 2d Bn, and G, H & I for the 3d Bn; while the heavy weapons companies are Wpns/1, Wpns/2 and Wpns/3 for the battalions. In the Army infantry regiment the rifle companies are A, B & C, with D being the heavy weapons company for the 1st Bn; 2d Bn being E, F, G & H for Wpns; 3d Bn being I, K & L, with M for Wpns. Note there is no "J" company.

READINESS OF THE TENTH CORPS From the Far East point of view, the soon-to-be major units of the X Corps consisted of the 7th Infantry Division which was stationed in Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan; the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California; and the 3d Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. However, they were all paper tigers at the time, a few troops carrying the colors but in no way having the personnel and equipment as called for in the TO&E. Descriptions of status are found in the book "America's Tenth Legion" by Shelby L. Stanton.

1st MARINE DIVISION "On July 25, General Cates directed that the 1st Marine Division be brought to full wartime strength within three weeks, ... ." All Marine facilities were ruthlessly combed to expand [Gen. Smith's division] from a skeletal shadow (having just a brigade for Korean duty) to a solid phalanx at Camp Pendleton in California. They were bolstered by more than nine thousand Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (most of the 2d Marine Division) to form the rejuvenated 1st Marines, the division's first regiment. "The 7th Marines became the division's second regiment and was formed by augmenting two weakened battalions of the 6th Marines with more regulars and reservists. The division relied on units overseas for completion: the last battalion of the 7th Marines was derived from the Sixth Fleet landing force steaming to Japan from the Mediterranean Sea, and the division's third regiment, the 5th Marines, was already in Korea as the basis of the Marine brigade fighting on the Eighth Army front."

7th INFANTRY DIVISION While the Marine division was being readied, the 7th Infantry Division "was so depleted and scattered by the incessant demands to fill earlier units, it has hardly more than a flag on MacArthur's wall chart. In the early stages the division was a cadre outfit instructing recruits arriving in Japan with some elemental training before being sent to Korea as replacements. . . . "The formation had absorbed ten thousand soldiers in the past few weeks , but more were needed. To complete its ranks, another expedient measure was introduced during the last week of August. The division received 8,637 raw Korean recruits, dumped into the assembly area just three weeks shy of D-Day Inchon. The KATUSA (Korean Augmentation To the U.S. Army), in addition to having had no military training whatever, did not speak the English language. Most became ammo bearers in rifle companies. In time they learned basic English reinforced by sign language, and in due time-a long time from a combat point of view- many became excellent soldiers. The last limited field training took place on the slopes of Mount Fuji where, for a few days, troops had to take refuge from one of the two typhoons which skirted southern Japan shortly before the Inchon landing.

3d INFANTRY DIVISION "At the outbreak of the Korean war, the 3d Infantry Division was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, but manned at one-third cadre strength (5,179 men when authorized 18,894). When the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to send the division as emergency reinforcement to Japan, additional personnel were taken from almost every post in the U.S. Its two regiments, the 7th and 15th Infantry, filled slowly because all installations had been previously combed for Korean-bound replacements. "Even the drastic measures failed to boost regiments to wartime complements, and both regiments received the usual KATUSA boost [of 8,500] while in Japan undergoing final training for Korea. . . . "The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry was added hastily on October 6 as the division's third regiment. . . . The need for infantry was so great in Korea that the 65th Regimental Combat Team was unloaded directly at Pusan and spent two months battling on the Eighth Army front before being released to join X Corps on the last day of October."

REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM (RCT) The terms "regiment" and "regimental combat team" bear explanation. The infantry regiment (Army or Marine) is that organization defined by the TO&E mentioned above, in other words, the organic units. A Regimental Combat Team (RCT) is an organization based on the regiment to which are attached other combat organizations, such as artillery, armor, anti-aircraft, combat engineer, as well as service support units such as truck companies. When attached, all of these units are responsible to the infantry regimental commander, not to their mother organization from which they came until officially detached. The reason for RCT formations in North Korea was due to the dispersal of regiments which could not be supported within the command and control systems of a normal division. In the tight formations common during WW II, the division's artillery was within supporting distance of more than one infantry unit, and the division commander could shift priorities depending on the situation. In Korea that was not possible when one regiment was 25 or 50 miles from another, which was the norm in X Corps at that time. The RCT formations were used in all X Corps divisions in North Korea.

BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (BCT) The Battalion Combat Team (BCT) was organized in like manner. During the Chosin campaign the RCTs were RCT 5 and RCT 7 at Yudam and RCT 31 east of the reservoir. The two BCTs were BCT 1/1 at Chinhung-ni; BCT 3/1 at Hagaru; and BCT 2/1 which was at Koto-ri. Even though the 1st Marine Regimental Headquarters was at Koto-ri, the combat perimeter was organized around the 2d Bn, 1st Marines, which was the largest BCT of the operation ending up with many attached units (2/31 Infantry, 185th Engineer Bn, 1MarDiv Recon Company, and many smaller units). As the operation changed direction and units gathered into tighter formations, BCTs were normally dissolved by the mother organization.

TASK FORCES   The term "task force" is often seen in history books. In some cases it is misused because the term did not exist at the time. The primary example is the use of the term "Task Force Faith" when referring to RCT 31 east of Chosin. The term did not exist at the time, but was invented by a historian after the fact, and in turn used by later historians and story writers. A task force is organized for a specific mission, after which it is dissolved. The best and example during Chosin is Task Force Drysdale, a gathering of units under the command of Lt. Col. Drysdale of 41 Commando, who was given the specific mission of getting those units from Koto-ri to Hagaru on 29 November; it had no other purpose and didn't exist after 30 November. East of Chosin RCT 31 was under the command of Colonel MacLean until he disappeared. When LTC Faith arrived at the Inlet to join the other units of the RCT he found both LTC Reilly of 3/31 and LTC Embree of 57FA both seriously wounded. As a result he assumed command of RCT 31. The command structure did not change, nor did it receive instructions from higher headquarters (then Gen. Smith at Hagaru) to change its designation.

The recent action which awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) to units of RCT 31 did not award it to "Task Force Faith." Although the recent papers recommending the award used the term "RCT 31" frequently, the award was not made to the RCT, but rather the units which made up the RCT at that time and place.

In summary, the ultimate burden caused by the readiness status of the the divisions which made up the Tenth Corps fell on the leaders at the lowest levels, for it was the squad and the platoon which suffered the most casualties.

Click here for a larger imageAttached is a photo (original is a color slide which I have) I took at the south end of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir on 3 December 1950. It has been published in the past in the Army Chapter's newsletter and also in the Chosin Few's News Digest.  I know of no other ground photo taken of the reservoir from this location, looking north.

Colonel George A. Rasula, USA



There are a few survivors of the Chosin campaign who were stationed in South Korea between WW II and the Korean War, some having memories to share. We also take a brief look at that period of time from the American troop withdrawal from Korea to the beginning of the war.

FLYING THE PARALLEL: A Personal Experience

When I first arrived in Korea the summer of 1948, I was placed on temporary duty with the Port of Inchon, where a dozen infantry officers were assigned to help with the urgent task of outloading equipment and supplies of the army 6th and 7th Infantry Divisions which went into Korea at the end of WW II. This proved to be an interesting assignment, that of supervising the warehousing and outloading onto cargo ships at what was known as the "Basin," the holding area for ships when the high tide of the Inchon harbor dropped 30 feet, held in the basin until the next high tide. The first time I looked at the area from the "castle" above the city, then the officers' mess, I saw the causeway to the Island of Wolmi-do, a nice walk from which to see Inchon from another point of view.

After the Inchon assignment I joined the 23rd Infantry headquarters in Seoul which soon assumed the colors of the 5th RCT when the last of the 7th Division pulled out of Korea. During those days the junior officers would sit around on the balcony of the Junior Officers Quarters (JOQ) during the evening happy hour and talk about the Korea situation, about Kim Il Sung and about the many incidents taking place on the 38th Parallel. Many of those present had served in units in that area on positions which were taken over by South Korean units, then accompanied by KMAG advisors. It was during these bull sessions in early 1949 when they were betting odds that Kim Il Sung would attack just as soon as the Americans pulled out, also believing the South Korea army of that day could not hold them back.

The training aids officer and I were the local artists at the JOQ who enjoyed drawing cartoons about the situation. In time this led to the design of the USAFIK patch with the monkey wrench and gears and the words "We've Had It" - a design which was silk screened by the training aids shop and soon made it to the local market where, by the time the 5th left Korea, was being made into shoulder patches. Without a doubt, that patch expressed the views of most officers in Korea at the time.

It was a fair weather day for a recon when I climbed into the L5 observation aircraft piloted by Major French of the USAFIK aviation section. We were on another of the continuing missions of keeping a birds-eye watch on the 38th Parallel. As assistant S2 of the 5th RCT stationed in Seoul, flying these missions as observer was becoming routine, or was it?

Soon after Major French made his preflight checks the aircraft was off the ground and heading north toward Uijonbu, the plan being to achieve an optimum elevation about one kilometer south of the parallel, and then head east. That we did with Major French keeping a sharp eye on his position above the ground as well as on his topographic map, while I used my binoculars to scan the ground to the north in search of NK positions. As usual there wasn't much to be seen because the NKs were becoming masters at camouflage.

Then suddenly came what we knew could happen yet hoped never would, a loud boom sounded off the left wing while almost instantaneously Major French dropped the right wing and powered the flimsy aircraft into a dive, heading for the nearest valley to the south. I could feel the upward pressure of my stomach while experiencing a rapid rise in the pucker-factor. As the plane settled into its southbound journey at about 500 feet, we discussed the possible location of the enemy weapon and marked our maps.

On the way back to the Seoul area Major French added a light diversion by demonstrating that an L5 a cannot outfly a flight of Canadian (Siberian?) geese. He would spot a flight, turn the plane in that direction and as soon as we were with a hundred meters of the geese they would make a sharp turn which an L5 could never match.

This brief experience may help readers of the Korean War understand that the 38th Parallel at that time was a tinder box waiting for Kim Il Sung to strike the match. Why he waited a year was because he needed the support of Mao and Stalin. He eventually got that support and launched his attack on the 25th of June, fifty years ago. -Lt. George Rasula, 1948-49


It was the middle of 1949 when the last of the military units pulled out of Korea. The 5th RCT went to their enviable assignment in Hawaii while many individual replacements went to Japan to join the divisions. A recent scan of the library shelves revealed a very small but interesting book, "The Korea Story" by John. C. Caldwell, 1952, dedicated "To the missionary men and women of all faiths." The last chapter titled "Seoul, June 25, 1950" has on the last page of the book a capsule which reveals the emotions of that fateful day.

"For many of us Americans who lived through those days, it was a tragedy of a different sort. We lost our belongings and many of our friends, but our greatest tragedy was the end of a dream we had a part in building. We had been through the muddles of the American occupation, had taken a part in the first free and democratic election in a nation's history. We had seen the new government emerge, with all its inexperience, selfishness, graft, and corruption, into the beginnings of real independence for a people who had sought independence for centuries. We had seen the valiant efforts of some Americans, the mistakes and avarice of others, all of them having a share in realizing the dream. But for all of us, missionary, diplomat, and common man, it ended on that Sunday, June 25, 1950."

Today, 50 years later, we hope those missionaries no longer feel that their dream had ended on that Sunday, but rather that it was the seed they had planted which played an important role in making democracy work in what is now the Republic of Korea.

END 07.30.00 * * *


IN THIS ISSUE We continue the coverage in 06.20.00 of Field Artillery, concluding with an essay The Warming Tent.


This part of the story begins in the area east of the Fusen (Pujon) Reservoir, where a battery of the 31st FA Bn (155mm) was backing up the 57th FA Bn (105mm) before the 57th left for the Chosin Reservoir.

Lt. Col. Embree, commander of the 57th FA Bn, visited us the next morning, and we soon began to get missions assigned. Our position was not too good for our purposes, and after conferring with C ol Embree, Captain Klaniecki left to look for better gun sites. We began our registration on the 57th's base point after Klaniecki left, so I was on my own. To my great embarrassment, the first round slammed into a ridge in front of us. I had calculated the minimum quadrant necessary to clear the ridge, and a check showed no errors in the gun settings. [We] put out heads together and finally decided that the cold was so intense that the powder was not behaving the way the tables said it should. That night the temperature started dropping even more. We read it at thirty-two degrees below zero on the powder thermometers, highly accurate instruments carried by each gun section to measure the actual temperature of the gunpowder.

On the 14th I noted that a man had to be evacuated with frostbitten feet. On the 15th more men had been sent to the rear with the same trouble. Once more the temperature dipped to thirty-two degrees below zero. We still had only two small command-post tents, and the gun sections slept huddled together under their ammunition tarpaulins. . . . On the 15th we set up a carbine range of sorts and practiced firing. It was well we did. Many of the carbines jammed in the cold after the first round. . . .

[Just before November 27 Gen Barr received intelligence reports that thousands of Chinese were moving south from the Yalu River. He immediately ordered heavy artillery units to begin withdrawing southward.]

I will never forget the cold on that trip south from Kapsan. Twice we stopped at MP checkpoints and warmed ourselves at their fires. These two-man posts were one of the most dangerous jobs of all. They were just two men alone in the night, usually with no other troops within miles. Those who did not build a fire were sometimes found frozen to death the next morning. Those who did build a fire were sometimes found shot to death the next morning beside the ashes of their fire. . . .

I believe they would have died if I had not stopped and built fires, and the rest of us were not much better off. Somehow my driver kept going, but near the end he was actually moaning as he drove. I had never been particularly robust, and I was close to collapse from the cold when we finally reached division headquarters. I do not know just how low the temperature dropped, but at division headquarters they recorded it at thirty-six degrees below zero that night. Division HQ was in a valley, so it must have been forty degrees below on the mountain passes. . . .

[At Division HQ Lt. Dill spoke with the G3 as well as Gen Barr, learning far more than junior officers usually learn in such a situation.]

Since the Chinese were headed south in the gap between the 7th Division and the Marines, the staff believed they would keep going until they reached the south end of the Pujon [Fusen] Reservoir. Once there they could either turn west and try to cut the Marine MSR at Hagaru, or turn east around the south side of Puksubaek [mountain] and drive from there northeast by way of Undam to cut our MSR somewhere between Pungsan and Pukchong. An infantry battalion plus "C" battery of the 57th FA Bn covered this approach. I was to join them covering the southwest with my guns.

[When RCT 31 went to the Chosin, the 1st Bn (1/31) remained on that mission, and the artillery battery (C/57FA) remained with them and did not go with the remainder of the battalion to Chosin. The gap which they were covering had been vacated by 3/31 of RCT 31 at the north end of the Fusen (Pujon) Reservoir, a gap which led directly southwest to the "Inlet" east of Chosin.]


We stared at this tableau in bewilderment for some seconds until Captain Klaniecki went over and put his hand on the captain's shoulder and asked what had happened. At this the officer shook himself, or maybe shuddered is a better word, and looked up, and spoke with a mechanical and toneless voice: "They're all dead. My whole battalion [57FA] is dead except for C Battery. A, B, headquarters, service, they've been wiped out. We are all that's left. The infantry they were with are gone too. Colonel MacLean is dead. The Marines are cut off by now. Nobody knows where your A Battery [31FA] is; they were on the way to join the 57th.

Radio contact was lost just before daylight this morning. The radio operator from D of the 15th [D/15AAA] came on the air and said the Chinese were in among the guns. He said not many men were still alive, but those that were able to walk had loaded the wounded on trucks and were going to try to break out along the road to Hagaru and reach the Marine lines. Then he stopped transmitting for a minute or so. They then heard him say:'Oh my God! Here they are!" That was all. The radio went dead. Air observation now reports nothing but burning trucks and Chinese. That's what they told me at Pukchong. They're all dead."

He gathered up his driver and went out to his jeep and left to rejoin his battery. We finished loading and started for Hamhung in a badly shaken frame of mind. We had all lost friends, and everyone in the battery realized that if the Chinese had turned east instead of west, or if General Barr had delayed our recall, we would have been the ones to die.

Operation Order 25 of RCT 31 issued east of Chosin for the continued attack to the North shows A/31FA Bn as attached, yet for years it was never known (reported) that happened to that battery. It is through articles such as this that we finally learn that A/31FA made it as far as Hamhung when the Chinese cut the MSR the night of November 27.

This is an example of how rumors originate in combat. Here in the 7th Division sector is interception of an excited radio operator east of Chosin on December 1, or is this story a mixture of the night of November 27 when an artillery battery was overrun and the breakout on December 1? We believe that it is. We do know that the story began at a radio of the 15AAA Bn which was with 7th Div HQ and found its way in the cold and depressed mind of a member of the 57th FA who did not make it to Chosin. Many incomplete stories such as this soon formed the basis for press releases which excited the entire nation.


Those who wear eyeglasses have experienced the glass fog up when going from the cold outdoors into a warm room. The colder your specs and the more humid the room the more dense the fog.

What were the warming tents like at Hagaru? They were normal issue pyramidal tents with a pot belly stove fueled by anything that would burn. Some stoves were improvised, for G.I. ingenuity ran rampant when things got tough. Many may not have realized that tents were shelters which gathered humidity as well as heat, ice particles forming on the inner surface where the warm humid air touched the extreme cold a few millimeters on the other side.

It was a natural tendency for cold and shivering men coming into the tent to leave their heavy clothes on until they felt warm, real warm, except for their hands which they'd immediately hold above the stove. Before they knew it they were sweating, adding more moisture to the atmosphere, more ice collecting on the tent ceiling. And more came from the canteen cups perking on the stove.

And here's what happens when a soldier enters the tent with his rifle-his trusted friend. The rifle is as cold as the outside temperature, and suddenly the cold metal begins to gather the moisture from the air, little droplets forming just as they did on eyeglasses. Moisture forms everywhere on the metal parts and suddenly, unknown to you, you are facing a new enemy.

As soon as you go outside, wham! Those many droplets of water immediately become ice, in the receiver, in the slide mechanism, everywhere. And the next time you raise your rifle and fire, one round may go off but another doesn't enter the chamber. Your rifle jams and you must hand-feed every round, a frustrating and dangerous experience when they are coming at you by the dozens. You blame the weapon, but the fault is yours.

Was there an solution to this problem at Chosin? The first was to clean all the oil and lubricants off all moving parts of the rifle (and any other weapon which had moving parts), dry it until it's bone-dry and leave it that way when you don't have cold weather lubricants. The second solution was to never, repeat never , take a cold weapon into a warm shelter. Men trained in cold operations are quick to improvise a shelter outside the tent with a rifle rack which is protected from snowfall. The "rifle rack" is nothing more than something against which you lean your rifle.

Lesson learned far too late.

END 06.22.00


You can use Ctrl-F to search for words within this page.



IN THIS ISSUE Where was E Company?

About the time the 7th Marines had arrived at Hagaru and the engineers began their work to build an airstrip, less than 20 air miles to the Northeast was the Fusen (Pujon) Reservoir where the 31st Infantry had battalions scattered in wild terrain, virgin territory in some areas which in that year marked the southern reaches of home ground for the Siberian Tiger. Battalions of the 31st Infantry moved into territory which was not accessible to any of their wheeled or tracked vehicles, using ox carts to carry supplies. This area historically recorded minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 F.) at times each winter.

The 31st Field Artillery Battalion provided the 155mm artillery support for the 7th Division, and since the division was spread through such a large area into regimental combat teams, batteries of 31 FA were attached to RCTs. We provide here an extract from an artillery officer's essay which relates to the conditions in which they were operating and the problems they faced due to inadequate clothing, problems which RCT 31 units continued to face when they move to their new mission east of Chosin.


This is from page 38-9 of a very old copy of Dill's article sent to the Journal by Colonel (then captain) Robert E. Drake, 31st Tank Company commander east of Chosin. Lt. James Dill was a member of Battery B, 31st Field Artillery Battalion (155mm towed), 7th Infantry Division, which operated from Iwon to Kapsan, then back to the Hungnam perimeter. Those of us who knew that the 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry, had arrived at Koto-ri less E Company, and that B Company (organic to 1st Battalion) arrived earlier to take part in Task Force Drysdale where they suffered seirous losses, often wonder where E Company was located and what they were doing. Part of the answer lies in James Dill's article, which reinforce comments by veterans today that "we froze our butts off."

My notes for the 18th of November begin: "Snow, almost a foot has fallen. The snow, however, seems to have warmed up the country somewhat." Warmth is, of course, relative. In this case it meant the temperature was only about twenty degrees below zero. This day we sent a wire crew on foot into the mountains in an attempt to lay a phone line to the front lines to supplement our erratic radios. They were not able to push through and ran into an enemy patrol. Only a few shots were fired, and the North Koreans surrendered. The wiremen brought in a total of six POWs. The patrol might be better described as stragglers, as they were so cold they gave up to keep from freezing to death. . . .

Early the next morning we received notice that tour mission with the 31st Infantry was to end, and we were to move even farther north and support the 32d Infantry Regiment in protecting our every-lengthening MSR (main supply route) as the division neared the Yalu. . . .

Company E of the 31st Infantry came down into our battery position about dark after a hard march over the mountains. The company commander told us he had had no way of carrying anyone who fell out, and since anyone who did would either die in the snow or be killed by the enemy, he took a drastic step. The first sergeant marched at the rear, and he was ordered to use his rifle sling as a whip. Any man who fell was lashed until he got up and kept going. The captain said he had more difficulty keeping his ROK's going than his Americans. We had always regarded them as tough., wiry men who cold keep going longer than anyone else, but we concluded that, at a certain point, physical condition gives way to basic stamina. The Americans were going on a lifetime of beef and potatoes, while the Koreans were going on a lifetime of fish and rice. One man suggested that this proved bourbon was a better conditioner than sake.

We parceled infantrymen out among the gun sections to get warm at our fires and sent off a hurry-up call to the nearest quartermaster for more rations. Out cooks prepared a meal for them. It was hashed corn beef and bread, but the hot food did wonders for them. Trucks arrived sometime after midnight to take the company away, and they left expressing deep thanks for our hospitality.

On the twenty-first we learned that the 17th Infantry had reached the Yalu River at Hyesanjin. We did no firing from this position, but the journal notes show we moved the guns which had pointed west to point north. On the twenty-second we received some much needed winter clothing. It was not enough-we still did not have any overcoats-but we did get the "arctic shoe pac" to replace our combat boots. This item was rubberized and watertight. Body moisture was absorbed by a removable felt inner sole. The soles along with the socks worn each day were place next to the skin at night to dry out from body heat, adding a piquant aroma to bodies long unwashed.

Adequate clothing was not issued until after we returned to South Korea. My clothing was fairly typical of what everyone wore. Under my helmet I wore the hood for the field jacket buttoned down to the jacket shoulder loops. Most of the men had these hoods, those who did not wrapped towels around their ears. We had not yet been issued the fur cap that made everyone look like an illegitimate son of Mao Tse-tung. I had a scarlet artilleryman's silk scarf, which I wound around my neck to prevent chaffing. . . . From inside out I wore a T-shirt and drawers, more for cleanliness than warmth, since they could be easily washed; a set of wool longjohns that had been issued at Pusan; a standard wool uniform shirt and trousers-the famous "shade 33s"; two fatigue jackets and two fatigue trousers; and lastly I wore my field jacket, not lined but a good windbreaker. I also wore two pairs of sock at all times. Except for some spare socks and underwear and two handkerchiefs, this completed my wardrobe.

Our worst shortage was gloves. Nobody had anything but leather work gloves which gave almost no protection from the cold. It was impossible to touch metal at any time, be it howitzer, ammunition, or truck, with the bare hand without having the skin stick. I had a pair of leather dress glosses I had brought from Fort Sill. . . . The worst problem was where the fingernails joined the skin. Here the flesh split into deep furrows that bled almost constantly. I managed to keep my sores fairly clean, but many men developed bad infections. In the cold our lips cracked and bled. I had had the foresight to put chapstick in my pocket when I left the States and so got some protection. The battery aidman finally managed to get some kind of salve, which the men smeared around their mouths. It was a white paste that made everyone look like a character in a minstrel show. A few of the men had sweaters of some kind, but I did not. Fortunately we did have winter sleeping bags, without them we would not have made it.

On the twenty-third we moved up to the ancient walled town of Kapsan, passing evidence of hard fighting along the way. The town itself was almost entirely destroyed as a result of the recent fighting with only a few pathetic residents left, and they were freezing in makeshift shelters. Large sections of the walls had crumbled away, but there were sections still standing up to seven or eight feet high. I think the walls were about ten feet thick at the bottom.

END 06.20.00 * * *




Students of Chosin who have read histories of Fox/7 are often driven to searching for more background on what happened, something more than the text in published books. Many are interested in command and control, resupply of everything it takes to sustain a company operating alone, and especially more detail about the enemy attacks - when, where and how many. Fire support is also a favorite topic, for F/7 was within range of the 105 howitzers of H/11 at Hagaru. This thought often arouses a reminder that Hill 1221 east of Chosin was also within range of those same guns, yet never used in that direction. This relates to the need for radio commo necessary to call for fire, same as it was for calling for air support, for supply drops and tacair missions. Radios ran on batteries which lost life rapidly in cold weather, the solution being timely delivery by helicopter. One quickly concludes the final success and survival of Fox/7 at Toktong was the ability to communicate. After that it's the performance of the individual marines holding Toktong Pass. We have here a report found deep in the files; it's time to remove the dust.

FOX SEVEN by Howard W. Koone

(This is my personal account while at the Chosin Reservoir, Toktong Pass. I served in Fox Company, 7th Marines in Lt. McCarthy's Third Platoon.)

We had just arrived at the midway point between Hagaru and Yudam. Our mission was to defend the MSR from this point in the Toktong Pass. The 5th and 7th Marines were at Yudam at this time and the 1st Marines in the Hagaru area. The weather was cold, very cold. We arrived in the late afternoon after which we unloaded and were positioned for the night. Our position was off to the right of the road up on a saddle-like hill. The ground was like a sheet of concrete and very barren.

Lt. McCarthy made his rounds, then Captain Barber did the same. The word for the night was fifty percent alert. A few snowflakes flew to the ground and some one remarked "It's even too damn cold to snow." We were warmly dressed with our wool socks, jungle boots (???),two pair of trousers, undershirts, wool shirts, long johns, dungaree jackets, parkas, gloves, caps and helmets. The word was to dress in layers to keep warm and to change off each day our two pair of wool socks, putting the other pair around our waist to keep them dry.

Bonelli, my rifleman, and Goldstine and Stan Golenbreski of the second fire team and I were having a time trying to get a fire going so we could thaw our rations. Down the line we saw a few fires flickering. We burned some papers from our ration cartons and discussed how cold it was and if we would be home by Christmas and how far north we were going and how our positions was at this point. I said "eat up because we're liable not to be around tomorrow." By this time our fires had gone out and we had a smoke and began to settle down for the night as the sky turned inky black. Bonelli took first sack-time while I sat up; one would sack out for an hour and then change. As Bonelli slipped into the sleeping bag (we had only one between us so as to discourage both of us sleeping in). The sleeping bag lay on top of the ground and we had a few bushes for cover.

Sgt. McAfree, our squad leader, was to our left about ten yards. Our thoughts were of home and if we would be home by Christmas. Through the night as we had changed the guard I was just taking my turn at guard when out in the mountains to the left I saw what looked like red sparks, then more directly to the front. I said to Bonelli, "Here they come!" We yelled to Goldstine and Ski to our right and to a machine gunner to our left.

At that moment all hell broke loose and the ground flew apart, there appeared a million red sparks and flashes and the sickening sound of burp guns. It sounded like a million explosions and as the ground shook we heard yells and screams as these crazy bastards came closer. A few bugle calls were heard. We tried our rifles but they were frozen. I put in clip after clip, but still no good. I said "Put on bayonets - it looks like a million of those bastards." Bonelli said "hell, they're all here" as I replied "throw those grenades." By now they were giving us everything they had and they had plenty. I threw one grenade at the red sparks in front of us. As the spoon flew off following by the explosion with its light I saw three bodies lift off the ground. I pulled the pin on the second grenade and let go. This time I saw the red flash, then the explosion and a few more bodies went down. By now the air was full of explosions, rifle and burp gun fire. Screams and yells filled the air. Then all of a sudden I felt like someone had chopped my ankle with an axe. I saw stars and felt like vomiting; a hot taste of aluminum seemed to burn my tongue. I told Bonelli "I'm hit," and he said "Let's get to the corpsman's shack." The shack, an old native hut, was to our rear at the foot of the hill near the road. I tried to stand and with the support of Bonelli, but as I was part way up the sudden rush of blood made me almost pass out, so I said "I'll crawl, I can't stand."

We pulled the trigger housings out of our rifles and headed in the direction of the corpsman shack. We came upon Goldstine and Ski and they were jumpy, I heard them working their bolts on their rifles and then I shouted "Hey, this is Koone and I'm wounded." They said "How bad?" We passed them by after telling them how bad the wound was the to hold and given them hell. Out of the dark came a figure straggling. We froze, but then recognized him as one of the machine gunners known as Chief. I said "What the hell you doing, Chief?" He said "I'm wounded."

I asked where and he said "In the eye." He moved on as explosions pounded savagely while dark movements seemed to be everywhere. It'll be a miracle if we make the corpsman's shack, I thought. It felt like by leg was made of lead and my foot about to drop off. Shock seemed to overcome my pain and fear. Thank God, I thought, just a little more and the corpsman's shack. Then someone shouted "Who goes there?" We shouted back "Koone, we're looking for the corpsman's shack." "You better get your ass under cover, the gooks are down there, we're surrounded." Bonelli helped me to a nearby machine gun nest that was pouring hot fire down the throats of those gooks. I plopped down inside the emplacement and passed out from the pain.

The next time I opened my eyes it was morning and the sun seemed to be blinding in the cold morning air. I was now out of the emplacement and getting my boot cut off, what was left of it. The sound of rifle and machine guns were really going full blast now. He gave me a shot to ease the pain I was having. He splinted it up with a couple of branches and wrapped it. "Don't worry" said corpsman Jones "we'll have your out of here soon." Litter after litter was taken off that hill to the shack near the road that was won back. There I saw a buddy of mine who I served with in Tsingtao, China, John Bledsoe. It sure was good to see him as he was serving hot coffee and cold orange juice. He gave me some coffee and juice which I vomited and then passed out from a second morphine shot.

I woke later after many wounded men were taken care of, ours and a few of theirs. Meanwhile tents were being set up on the side of the hill for the wounded. The trees gave cover and the word was that helicopters were coming in for the wounded. What a lift to our morale. We were taken up the hill again to the tents. It looked like the entire company had suffered heavy casualties for the night of hell. The fighting was still going on, hot and heavy and Marine history was being made here in this godforsaken area. We were in sleeping bags and put into tents, body to body, there were plenty to go into those tents. The corpsmen were busy as could be making sure everyone received attention. The air was crisp and cold and a few snowflakes fell from the sky. The corpsmen were giving shots and comfort to the badly wounded and trying to use that what plasma they had. Every one was doing a job as the tents were full of wounded. A few cans of fruit cocktail were passed around to those who could take something down. Most slept under the influence of the shots which ease the pain. During our moments awake we heard of different ones being wounded or killed or taken prisoner. We heard helicopters were coming in soon. I was told I was to be number three in order to save my right foot. We heard we were surrounded and air support was coming and air drops of supplies to break out of this situation.

The Fifth at Yudam-ni was surrounded. We were surrounded and the first at Hagaru-ri was in the same situation. We heard a British Commando outfit was on its way. The next day a copter came after a full day of fighting and an all night session of battle. As the copter came down a sniper sent a round into the plexiglass. The pilot left a few supplies and departed. We heard of another one coming in but under enemy fire; both had to leave without taking any wounded. What now, we thought. Quite a few holes were being put through out tents from sniper fire and those F4Us were really raising hell with the enemy. We heard of our captain and McCarthy our platoon leader, and a few of the boys. The fellows all talked of how a slug went through the leg of Captain Barber and into McCarthy. Everyone agreed that Barber was as tough as he sounded that day in Hagaru-ri when he made a speech to our company of how he was "an infantryman and a hell of a good one at that" when he took command of out outfit in early November.

Even the wounded who could still get around were out fighting. The captain came into the tents giving courage to the men and how things were going. We heard the captain had said "I've led my men up this hill, I'll lead them down." And by Marine Corps spirit he did. This cocky captain was OK in our books. The Marine Corsairs flew in so low we could hear the bombs let loose and they sure sounded good. The 11th Marines was giving the gooks a few rounds of artillery to gobble down. With a combination like this our spirits were never down, but just a matter of disposing of the garbage. We'd soon be on our way, the talk turned again to we'd make it by Christmas.

The 3d of December we were taken back down the hill. The enemy had lost much face and life in an impossible victory by the Marines. We were loaded aboard trucks that crisp cold afternoon after the chaplains had been around and saw everyone. I saw a PFC buddy of mine, Daugherty, who gave me a cigarette and a stick of gum. We were wrapped in the parachutes from the air drops, some yellow, red and blue. I was handed a rifle by a loader who said "We've got a few road blocks to get through yet." The shot of morphine I had received just before being loaded was starting to work, our hopes were high because we knew nothing was stopping us now.

We arrived at Hagaru-ri that night after road blocks and other obstacles. We were greeted by the British Commandos who cut the parachutes loose and helped carry us into a large Korean building which was being used for wounded litter cases. This one Commando who cut me loose gave me a cigarette and said to a buddy, "Hey Harry, give me a hand, they got this fu--ing Yank tied up for Christmas." It sure felt good to know these people were on our side.

Someone was holding things up as they tried to line the litters in rows and put ID cards on all of us. The weather outside was below zero and liter cases were waiting to be brought inside as the friendly British exchanged scuttlebutt with us. Col. Litzenberg arrived inside at this moment and said "What the hell's the hold up? Let's get these men in here and right now." An Army Medical [MSC] Captain said "Yes, Sir." It gave us a lift to know our regimental CO was here and with him here we knew things would move and get done.

That night we slept after getting our wounds dressed and a shot. The next morning was alive with excitement as we saw other buddies we didn't see in last night's candlelight. The word was the wounded were being flown out this morning from here on a new airstrip the engineers had built. I saw PFC Whallen with whom I served in the engineers at Camp Pendleton; he was there with the 1st Marines. We exchanged a few stories of what had happened and he gave me a handful of Tootsie Rolls. I gave them out to the guys around me and went back to sleep. A few cans of rations and hot coffee were passed around, and then we were loaded aboard jeeps and trucks and taken to the airstrip. My heart began to pound as I saw those big planes being loaded. These planes were fixed to carry litters. We took off and were on our way, stopping at Hamhung [Yonpo] where we had a bite to eat on the plane, given a shot, then on to Japan.

When we got to Japan one of those Air Force flyboys had taken my parka and put a blanket around me. By now I didn't care what they took as I was alive and on my way. We arrived in Japan that night, December 5th, 1950. We were unloaded and put aboard busses and taken to an Army hospital.

END 06.15.00 ***



IN THIS ISSUE This issue of the Changjin Journal is devoted to remembrance, reminders of the day followed by a link with the Battle of Suomusalmi issue and an experience by the author of walking the stones in Finland. We have also included in the End Notes a list of Changjin Journals which have been published to date.


Once again the Sunday newspapers reminded us to pause and remember. We see photos of uniformed soldiers in their youth adjacent to another photo of Normandy. Another photo of someone feeling the lettering on the Vietnam Memorial. We read stories of children helping their grandfathers remember, writing memoirs or even creating web pages so the veteran's contributions will not be forgotten, and a photo of the cub scout saluting as he placed flags on the burial sites of veterans. They are all remembering in one way or another.

Some remember the blood bath of their amphibious landing - Guadalcanal, Normandy, Peleliu, Tarawa or Iwo, while others remember seeing buddies fall with their Flying Fortresses over the cities of Europe, or others who stumbled and passed out in the heat of malaria ridden jungles of Burma.

And then there are many who were too young for Normandy but now remember trying to fend off the North Koreans, men falling in each mile as they withdrew to and built up the Pusan Perimeter, or the invasion of Inchon and capture of Seoul after which came another invasion of sorts - hordes of Chinese surrounding the UN units at Kunu-ri and the Chosin Reservoir.

We all remember in various ways. Many attend memorial services which take place all over this great land of ours, while others due to infirmity may watch memorial functions on television, especially those at our Nations Capital. And then there are those who have the capacity for "walking the stones."

Since the Changjin Journal 05.05.00 described the Battle of Suomusalmi in Finland, I would like to share with you my related experience of walking the stones in that land of my forefathers, a very young nation which, before independence in 1917, had provided soldiers for the Kings of Sweden during one era of history and the Czars of Russia during other. It was during the 1939 Soviet invasion when the world heard the Finnish word "sisu" which translates to "tenacity of purpose."


There are many cemeteries in which one sees collections of stones surrounding a memorial to the fallen, the fallen of three occasions which created and saved the nation - the War of Independence, the Winter War and The Continuation War. These are the wars which made it possible to see Finland as it is today.

I walked the stones at Tuusniemi and Kuortane, birthplaces of ancestors, also the stones at Nastola and Kauniainen where both memorials to the fallen read "Pro Patria" (motto of the U.S. 31st Infantry) and on each stone was carved the name and the battle of the Finnish soldier who gave his life for his country.

Each assembly of stones was artistically designed and immaculately cared for, as if each blade of grass and flower were also representative of fallen soldiers.

They are seen at each and every village, town and city, with the large assemblage at Helsinki's Hietaniemi cemetery which bears a large stone dedicated to Marshall Mannerheim, the highest honored savior of Finland, among many. They are gathered together in honor of those from that community who gave their all so that the citizens of that community, old and young, could also walk the stones as they contemplate their good fortune of walking in peace.

When I walked those stones and read the names and dates and place, there emerged the nation's history, reading multiple casualties from one family, names of places where and when violent battles had taken place, all of which represents the history of the nation and the cost of war.

This Memorial Day 2000 please take the time to do the same. Walk the stones and while doing so read them, read the brass plate markers we use in our country on which is the military service and war or wars in which the individual served. They are the ones to honor this day in this land - the United States of America. It is there where we can sense the true meaning of freedom.

George Arthur Rasula Finnish American

END 05.29.00



IN THIS ISSUE The Changjin Journal continues to receive requests for information, much of which is available in past publications. For this reason we are devoting this issue to administration, the latest on preparations for DOD's K50 activities, followed by advance notice of a new book on the Korean War and reference lists of past books based on the Chosin campaign.


Subject: Korean War Commemoration Opening Ceremony News Release

Korean War commemorative events open to the public this year include:

June 25 - Wreath Laying Ceremony - Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. June 28 - Task Force Smith - Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va. July 5 - Task Force Smith - Osan, Republic of Korea July 26 - Twilight Tattoo - Ellipse, Washington, D.C. Sept. 13 - Pusan Breakout - Waegwan, Republic of Korea Sept. 15 - Inchon Landing - Inchon, Republic of Korea Sept. 15 - 17 Breakout of the Pusan Perimeter and Inchon Landing - Norfolk, Va. Nov. 11 - Northern Campaigns - Seoul, Republic of Korea Nov. 11 - Nations Parade - New York, N.Y. Dec. 7 - Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir Campaign - Camp Pendleton, Calif. Dec. 12 - Hungnam Redeployment and Evacuation - Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C. For more information about the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration, call 703-604-0831 or visit the web site at


Published by Presido Press, China and the Korean War: June - December, 1950 "What I set out to do six years ago was to find out how we got into that situation at Chosin and what were the results. The story is in the book. It is a study of the events and decisions, both by the US, the UN Command, and the Chinese, leading to the Chinese entry into of the war, of the events and decisions at all levels leading to the ill-advised advance of UN forces toward of the Manchurian border through of the mountains of North Korea, and of the results of those decisions. I believe I have found the source of the flawed intelligence on which many of the decisions were made. There is much new information from Chinese sources and from material in the National Archives, the MacArthur Library in Norfolk, the Army's Military History Institute and the Marine Corps Research Center. "I received an advance copy yesterday and am really pleased to be able to tell you that pre-publication orders are now being accepted by, Barnes and Noble, and Borders Books. It should be in the stores in early June. The pre-publication price is $24.47 (hard cover - no paperbacks yet), thirty per cent off from the regular price of $34.95. "It has been both a gratifying and humbling experience. I hope it will give you a new perspective on the war and what we did at Chosin." - Major Patrick C. Roe, USMC (Ret), Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee

REFERENCES - The Chosin Reservoir November-December 1950 1951    Geer; The New Breed, p.217-374. A book about the Marines. These early books contain errors as well as voids in comparison with what we know today. However, it is good to sudy the Chosin Campaign from the earliest books to see what was and wasn't known at the time.

1954    Gugeler; U.S. Army Historical Series, Combat Actions in Korea; OCMH, US Army. Chapter 6, Chosin Reservoir, p.54-79, is based on interviews by Martin Blumeson of members of the 1/32 Infantry. Revised edition 1974. Read this for background only, then go to Appleman's East of Chosin, 1987.

1957    Montross/Canzona; USMC Operations in Korea, Vol III, the Chosin Reservoir Campaign HQ, USMC. The official Marine history.

1961    Appleman; South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu, Jun - Nov 1950 DAMH, US Army. The last few pages provide an insight into the CCF buildup before the Chosin action.

1987    Appleman; East of Chosin; Texas A&M University Press. This is the only book to date which provides a reasonable insight into what happened to Army units east of the Chosin Reservoir, cited frequently by subsequent authors. However, Appleman's research ended before the activation of The Chosin Few and its Army Chapter which opened doors to much more first-hand information.

1987    Blair; The Forgotten War; Time Books. New information on Army units outside of the east of Chosin action. An excellent reference book.

1989    Stanton; America's Tenth Legion: X Corps in Korea, 1950, Presidio Press. Emphasis on the corps commander, MGen Almond. See Appleman and Blair for unit actions.

1990    Appleman; Escaping the Trap, The X Corps in Korea, 1950; Texas A&M Univ. Press. Best yet. Chapter 5 covers action east of Chosin Reservoir.Recommended reading for all members of the Few.

1990    Mossman, U.S. Army in the Korean War, Ebb and Flow, Nov. 1950 - July 1951, U.S. Army Center of Military History. This is the Army's official history which follows Appleman's of 1961. Both Appleman and Blair have much more detail than does this book.

1992    Cowart; Miracle in Korea: The Evacuation of X Corps from the Hungnam Beachhead, University of South Carolina Press, 207 Pickens St., Columbia, SC 29208.

OTHER BOOKS: See Bibliography of Appleman, Blair and Stanton for other references, especially for references on other services, USN and USAF.

Note: This list is based on historical value of the contents relating to the details of the Chosin story and has no relationship with surveyed preferences of readers. GAR - 5 January 1994

END 05.21.00 * * *



IN THIS ISSUE When one studies the Chosin campaign it is often interesting and helpful to study battles of the past which are similar. We have read about Napoleon's experience with a Russian Winter at the gates of Moscow, and long after the World War II German campaign against the Soviets at Leningrad, both suffering severe losses by getting caught in a winter war. In the case of Finland it is the time of year and weather, as well as the strategy and tactics of the forces involved which remind us Chosin.

THE BATTLE OF SUOMUSALMI November - December 1939

Suomusalmi was a small village in eastern Finland, resting about half way between the Gulf of Finland and the Arctic Ocean, an area where-during the beginning of the Soviet Unions attack on Finland - three Russian divisions met their doom at the hands of a small Finnish force. Even at Chosin, and often since then, I have been reminded of Suomusalmi when I reflect on the strategy and tactics used by the Chinese. The area in Finland was virtually wilderness with few roads, so when Russia attacked little Finland, the Finnish high command left the defenses there to a handful of reserves. This was the winter of 1939-40, the beginning of one of the most severe winters on record-already a similarity existed between Suomusalmi and Changjin. The Chinese of 1950 may have studied this battle, but they didn't do to the UN Force that which was experienced by the Russians.

Across the border without knowledge of the Finns, the Russians had built new roads leading to the border. These enabled them to advance with strong forces into otherwise roadless territory. The route through Suomusalmi led westward to the railroad system and on to Sweden.

Two Russian regiments advanced on the northern road while a third moved along the Raate road. Thus, the entire 163d Ukrainian Division was directed against on Finnish reserve battalion.

Because of the odds the Finns conducted a delaying action to the village of Suomusalmi where they put the torch to the village and pulled to positions across the lake which was not yet frozen hard enough to bear the weight of tanks.

After delays - reminding me of the 2/31 Infantry which never arrive east of Chosin - the Finnish 27th Infantry Regiment of the 9th division arrived to commence counter-operations. After sizing up the situation and learning the disposition of the enemy, Colonel Siilasvuo ordered a weak reinforced detachment to move northwest of the village for an attack on the Russian position in the village. This force almost caused the Russians to retreat. His main force then moved behind the Russians along the Raate road in order to cut the Russians off from their supply base at Raate itself. In essence, the plan called for cutting the enemy columns into "mottis" and keeping them isolated from one another until additional troops arrived to complete the destruction.

The weather was worsening as the temperature dipped as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, same as minus 40 Fahrenheit.

The Finns left machine gunners to hold the position south of Suomusalmi as the attack groups moved to staging areas. The element of surprise played a large part in the success of the operation, as the Russians did not guess the strength of the Finnish attack.

On the second day the attack was renewed in such cold weather that trucks had to be left behind, and men went without a hot meal. The Russians sent tanks against the attackers for the first time, causing consternation, but that subsided when it was realized that the tanks could not move or fire in the dense woods. As the Finns continued to chew up the enemy the picture cleared, showing that an entire new division, the crack Russian motorized division from the Moscow Military District was son its way to extricate the 163d.

As the Finnish commander's force was being reinforced by the remainder of the 9th Division, the plan called for pinning down the Russians by a series of small attacks, while the major attacks would cut the Russian column into successively smaller mottis-the result being the destruction of the 163d Russian Division.

Although the Russians counterattacked on numerous occasions, by the night of December 27 they were crowded into a small area with few supplies and less hope. On the 28th the Finns made a decisive penetration which threw the enemy into panic, and they fled across the ice of Lake Kianta while another panic set in at Suomusalmi, and soon all but a third of the division-still surrounded - was fleeing across the ice while the Finns pursued them on skis. Only a few small units survived.

When the battle on the 28th ended, the 163d Ukrainian Division was, for all practical purposes, completely destroyed. After a period of 17 days, the battlefield yielded 5,000 dead, innumerable other buried under the snow, and 500 prisoners. The booty of field guns, tanks, trucks, horses and huge quantities of ammunition did much to help the war effort of the Finns.

By this time the Finns had a good feel from the threefold process of motti tactics: reconnaissance and blocking; attack and isolation; and finally annihilation.

A few interesting points from the subsequent annihilation of the Russian 44th Division: * the Russians used their tanks to keep communications open; * they did not dare move much beyond their own perimeters, and rarely did their patrols enter the woods; * because of lack of recon they did not know the size of the (smaller) attacking force, believing it to be much larger; * and with commo cut between the divisions the commander of the 44th did not know what became of the 163d.

On the other hand, the Finns: * were highly mobile on skis and pulling ahkios, a boat type sled on which they carried machine guns, mortars and ammunition, as well as using them to evacuate wounded; and * cut the Russian column into manageable mottis, felling trees and building abatis across roads, mining the covering them by fire.

By the second day against the 44th Division the Russian soldiers were showing signs of nervousness, and when the Finnish attacks began, they fled into the wilderness without any attempt to fight. Pressing their advantage, the Finns moved inside the Russian positions; by nightfall they had virtually destroyed every motti.

Final operations of the fourth day finished off the Russian 44th Division. This time the booty was found to be 43 tanks, 50 artillery pieces, 25 AT weapons, 270 trucks, cars and tractors, 300 machine guns, 6,000 rifles, 32 field kitchens, and 1,170 horses. Enemy casualties could not be estimated as bodies were scattered everywhere beneath the snow; the Finns took 1,300 prisoners. Finnish casualties were 900 killed and 1,770 wounded.

During the remainder of the war no further attempts were made by the Russians to cut Finland at the waist, allowing the Finns to transfer many units from the Arctic to the Karelian front.

These victories were the result of a bold and energetic command which used the troops, the terrain, and the conditions to best possible advantage. In the annals of warfare, one must look to classical times for parallels to this annihilation of such large numbers by so few.

Two winters before Chosin I had the pleasure of being interpreter and English instructor for a group of former Finnish Army officers who had joined the U.S. Army. During our pre-Arctic training out of Fort Lewis and later Exercise Yukon at Nome and Big Delta, Alaska, we would sit in our arctic tents for classes during which Colonel Alpo Marttinen, Chief of Staff at Suomusalmi, would brief me on the battle using his original maps. Most of these officers served a second military career in the U.S. Army and contributed immeasurably to the improvement of cold weather clothing and equipment, and the revision of field manuals on winter warfare. What they had to offer was not yet available in November 1950. - George A. Rasula

END 05.15.00



IN THIS ISSUE We continue with their Ninth Endorsement.


We have here a list of units from the 9th Indorsement with a clarification of where they were located, their status and relationship to the PUC [Comments in brackets]. But first, let us clarify the term "RCT 31" because an RCT is not a TO&E flag bearing organization and is not awarded a PUC under that terminology. The organizations which make up the Regimental Combat Team, in this case the 31st Infantry Regiment, are the units which are recommended for and awarded the PUC. Keep in mind also that the PUC is a unit award and not an individual award; those personnel who served in the organization at the time are authorized to wear the PUC unit award ribbon. When in uniform the PUC ribbon is worn above the right pocket in prescribed protocol in relation to other unit awards. At the coming Army Chapter Chosin Few reunion on June 10 at Lancaster, Pa, the colors of the 31st and 32d Infantry Regiments from Fort Drum, NY, will be present to take part in a ceremonial presentation of the PUC streamer.

Although the CJe published the 11th Endorsement prior to the 9th, it was presented in that format so the reader would understand the criteria established for the selection of units to share in the award. Note in reading the documents that "attachment" to the 1MarDiv was an important factor. There remain other units which could have been considered. Although Task Force Dog of the 3d Inf Div was moved up to Chinhung-ni to relieve the 1/1 Marines at that location, it was not attached to the 1MarDiv. All other Army units north of that area were attached to 1MarDiv on the evening of 29 November.

Units listed in the 9th Indorsement:

3d Battalion, 7th Infantry [Chinhung-ni with Task Force Dog which relieved the 1/1 Marines at that location; did not receive PUC.] Company D, 10th Engineer Combat Battalion [Hagaru-ri; received PUC 1953.] Companies B and C, 13th Engineer Combat Battalion [Company C attached to RCT 31 received PUC 1999; Company B did not receive PUC.] Battery D, 15th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion [East of Chosin with 57th FA Bn part of RCT 31; received PUC 1999.] 31st Infantry [Regiment] (less Company E and 1st Battalion, except Company B) [The base unit of RCT 31 East of Chosin and Koto-ri; all units ( except 1/31 less B, and E2/31) received PUC either in 1993 or 1999.] 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry [East of Chosin with RCT 31; received PUC 1999] Battery A, 50th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion [Chinhung-ni attached to 1/1 Marines; did not received PUC.] Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52d Transportation Truck Battalion [Chinhung-ni; Task Force Dog; did not receive PUC.] 57th Field Artillery Battalion [East of Chosin with RCT 31; Received PUC 1999.] 58th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company [Element at Koto-ri carried air dropped bridge components to blown bridge site in Funchilin Pass; did not received PUC.] Company A, 73d Engineer Combat Battalion [Chinghung-ni with Task Force Dog; did not received PUC.] 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion [Chinhung-ni with Task Force Dog; fired in support of 1/1 Marines; did not receive PUC.] 185th Engineer Combat Battalion (less Company A) [Koto-ri; received PUC 1953.] 2d Platoon, 512th Engineer Dump Truck Company [Koto-ri; did not receive PUC.]


In 1986 the Army Chapter of the Chosin Few was formed, after which the membership on the Board of Directors began to include members of army units. By 1989 it became apparent among the governing body that the Army units which fought the battle east of Chosin played a signficent role in the Chosin campaign which resulted in a letter being sent (17 March 1989) from the Chosin Few to the Secretary of the Navy asking that his office "review the records supporting the citation . . . and ammend the Presidential Unit Citation to include attached Army Units listed on enclosure (1)."

Although this first effort was not successful, it did open the door at the highest levels that a problem existed, a problem reopened in 1999 - the year before the 50th anniversary of the Chosin Campaign.

The following Army units were recommended in this 1989 letter:

3d Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment 57th Field Artillery Battalion (less Battery A) [correct to Battery C] Battery D (-), 15th AAA AW Battalion Heary Mortar Company (-), 31st Infantry Regiment Platoon, Heavy Mortar Company, 32d Infantry Regiment Medical Company (-), 31st Infantry Regiment Detachment, Service Company, 31st Infantry Regiment Platoon, Company C, 13th Engineer Battalion Detachments, 377th Transportation Truck Battalion Detachments, 581st Signal Battalion Detachment, X Corps Military Police Company (P) Deatchment, Headquarters, X Corps

THE CHOSIN FEW'S FINAL AND SUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT which took place in 1999 is planned to be published in the next issue of the Changjin Journal.

END 05.06.00

* * *


THE LAST ISSUE provided a copy of MGen O.P. Smith's Eleventh Endorsement to the Navy Board of Decorations and Medals which provided that agency the basis for awarding the PUC to designated units which participated in the Chosin campaign.

IN THIS ISSUE we provide the Ninth Indorsement wherein the Department of the Army's Center of Military History provides a list of Army units to be considered for award of the PUC. This will be followed by discussion to show differences between MGen Smith's Aide Memoire on Chosin and his 11th Endorsement, an attempt to identify the basis for his decision. The 9th Ind. was developed from communications between HQ Far East Command and Army commands (corp and division) which had units in the Chosin operation.

THE NINTH INDORSEMENT COPY "HIS 200.6 (3 Mar 52) 9th Ind, Subject: Recommendation for award of Distinguished Unit Citation to 1st Mar Div; from Department of the Army, Office of the Chief of Military History, 19 Mar 1953, to Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals, Department of the Navy. "Recommend that the following Army units be included for consideration with the First Marine Division (Reinf) for the award of the Presidential Unit Citation for action in the Chosin Reservoir area during the period 27 November to 11 December 1950: 3d Battalion, 7th Infantry Company D, 10th Engineer Combat Battalion Companies B and C, 13th Engineer Combat Battalion Battery D, 15th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion 31st Infantry (less Company E and 1st Battalion, except Company B) 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Battery A, 50th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 52d Transportation Truck Battalion 57th Field Artillery Battalion 58th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company Company A, 73d Engineer Combat Battalion 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion 185th Engineer Combat Battalion (less Company A) 2d Platoon, 512th Engineer Dump Truck Company FOR THE CHIEF OF MILITARY HISTORY: /s/t/Leonard O. Friesz, Major, Infantry, Executive END COPY

DISCUSSION Now that we have seen the units in the 9th Indorsement, we look deeper in our search for rationale in the 11th Endorsement. One important point of conflict has been the designation of the major command which fought the battle east of Chosin, the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT 31), and the terms "Task Force Faith" and "Provisional Battalion."

Our contemporary studies of the PUC problem continue to carry us back to Gen Smith's Aide Memoire in our search for reasons behind his decisions. Our first question is - why did he use the term "Task Force Faith" in his 11th Endorsement and make no mention of "RCT 31"? Let us first look at that portion of the Aide Memoire in which he addresses the Army units east of Chosin. [Editors comments in brackets for clarification.]

COPY From Aide Memoire of Maj. Gen. O.P. Smith, CG 1MarDiv. "In Hagaru-ri itself were some 267 Army troops, 12 attached to the Division and the remainder not attached. These were Corps troops and did not belong to RCT-31. The unattached troops had been sent north to prepare for the establishment of an advance Corps CP at Hagaru-ri. [D/10th Engineers, 3d Div, and Platoon, 4th Signal Bn, fought on East Hill.]

"During the night of 27-28 November the CCF stuck in force the elements of RCT-31 at Sinhung-ni and north thereof. A report from the 1/32 Inf indicated that the task force had come under attack in the early morning hours of 28 November. The enemy, employing mortars, and reinforced with tanks, overran the artillery positions and inflicted heavy casualties on the friendly troops.

"Apparently RCT-31 had pushed the 1/32 Inf, reinforced, to the north of Sinhung-ni and the remainder of the force had remained at Sinhung-ni. It had been the plan for 28 November to have the 1/32 Inf attack to the north to capture the Chosin Dam at the north end of the Reservoir . According to Captain Edward P. Stamford, USMC, the forward air controller with the 1/32 Inf, that battalion was attacked by the CCF at about midnight, 27 November. There was close-in fighting and a considerable number of casualties was inflicted on the battalion. The attack was beaten off by daylight, 28 November. [The plan to attack north was based on the arrival of 2/31 Infantry, the third infantry battalion of RCT 31 which never did arrive east of Chosin.] . . . . .

"Colonel MacClean [MacLean], CO of RCT-31, had come forward to the CP of the 1/32 on 28 November, joining LTC Faith who commanded the battalion. Apparently a decision was reached to have the 1/32 Inf, on 29 November, fight its way back to the positions of the 3/31 Inf in the vicinity of Sinhung-ni. This involved crossing the Pungnyuri River. The river was frozen over and infantry could cross at any point, but it was considered necessary to use the bridge for the wheeled vehicles. The road from the north, upon reaching the arm of the reservoir into which the Pungnyuri River emptied, made a sharp turn to the east and crossed the river about 1800 yards east of the reservoir. The road then turned sharply to the southwest toward Sinhung-ni.

"On 29 November, while engaged in reconnoitering the crossing sire, Colonel MacClean [MacLean] was either killed or captured. LTC Faith of the 1/32 Inf succeeded to command of RCT-31. With the aid of excellent air cover, the 1/32 Inf succeeded in getting its vehicles across the river, although the column was under heavy fire from the high ground to the north. [On this evening, 29 November, all Army units - including RCT 31 - were attached to the 1st Marine Division.]"

We should keep in mind tha Gen Smith did not have personal access to all the above information at the time of the action. Our studies indicate that details regarding the actions of units east of Chosin came from the after-action reports of CPT Ed Stamford (TACP with 1/32) and LTC Beall (led rescue efforts on ice).

To clarify terminology, a "task force" of the day was made up of units under a designated commander to perform a specific mission, such as "Task Force Drysdale" established at Koto-ri and Task Force Dog of the 3d Division sent to Chinhung-ni to relieve the 1/1 Marines. The term "Task Force Faith" was never used during the Chosin operation; Faith "succeeded to command of RCT-31" as stated above by Gen Smith.

The "Provisional Battalion" was made up from survivors of Army units which fought the battle east of Chosin, as well as units at Hudong-ni and Hagaru-ri; Tank Company, 31st Infantry, which had been at Hudong-ni and withdrawn on 30 November with other Hudong units, was attached to the 5th Marines as rear guard during the breakout 6-7 December. The so-called Provisional Battalion (known at Hagaru as "31/7" under LTC Berry K. Anderson) was actually formed into two small battalions of three rifle companies each, 3/31 (MAJ Carl Witte) with I, K and L, 1/32 (MAJ Robert Jones) with A, B and C companies.

SUMMARY TO DATE In this issue we have seen the list of units recommended by the Army, followed by a discussion about terminology. We conclude this issue of the Changjin Journal by asking a question based on the information we now have available: Why did Gen Smith exclude the RCT-31 units from his final recommended list for the award of the PUC? [Please note that the spelling of Endorsement and Indorsement is not a typo error; that's the way they are spelled in the original documents.

END 04.28.00

* * *







THIS ISSUE is devoted to providing a copy of the Eleventh Endorsement, part of the stream of paperwork which created the basis for awarding the Navy Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) to [not all] units which participated in the Chosin campaign. This is the document on which the Navy Board of Decoration and Medals based their final decision on which units would be awarded the PUC. Next in our series on the PUC we will include Department of the Army's 9th Endorsement mentioned below in paragraph 6, followed by extracts from other documents. At any time during this series we invite comments from our readers, comments which will be used in a discussion at the end of the series which will include the most recent action initiated by The Chosin Few which resulted in the award of the PUC for those units of RCT 31 which fought the battle east of Chosin.


14 Apr 1953 ELEVENTH ENDORSEMENT on MajGen O.P. Smith's ltr, ser 9532 of 3 Mar 1952

From: Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC To: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals Subj: Presidential Unit Citation; case of 1st Marine Division (Reinf), recommendation for award of

1. Returned. 2. In including Marine, Army and other units in the proposed citation of the 1st Marine Division for the award of the Distinguished Unit Citation (Army), (now changed to Presidential Unit Citation (Navy)), I was guided by the following considerations: a. Only those units were included which made a direct contribution to the successful breakout of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir Area. b. The significant operations which insured the successful breakout of the Division occurred between Yudam-ni and Chinhung-ni. c. The significant ground operations which insured the success of the breakout were conducted by Marines. Air units of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force, which participated in the Chosin Reservoir Operation, have already been awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (Army). (See paragraph 10, below.)

3. In order of their critical and significant character ground operations incident to the breakout of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Reservoir area may be broken down as follows: 1st - The breakout of the 5th and 7th Regimental Combat Teams from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri. 2d - The defense of Hagaru-ri pending the arrival of the 5th and 7th Regimental Combat Teams from Yudam-ni. 3d - The attack from Hagaru-ri to Koto-ri. 4th - The defense of Koto-ri pending the arrival of the bulk of the Division there. 5th - The attack from Koto-ri to Chinhung-ni, including the attack of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, from Chinhung-ni toward Koto-ri.

4. Direct participation of Marine, Army, and other units was as follows: (figures given for each phase are the maximum before the effect of casualties was reflected.) a. Breakout of the 5th and 7th Regimental Combat Teams from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri: Marines and Navy Medical - 8,290 (approx) Army - None b. Defense of Hagaru-ri pending the arrival of the 5th & 7th Regimental Combat Teams at Hagaru-ri: Marines and Navy Medical - 3,540 (approx) Army (including integrated South Koreans) - 325 (approx) Royal Marine Commandos - 180 (approx) c. Attack from Hagaru-ri to Koto-ri: (This attack was launched on 6 December 1950. The number of troops participating in this phase of the operation was the product of several factors. The airstrip for transport planes became operational on 1 December. During the evening of this same day stragglers from the break-up of an Army Task Force, which had been overwhelmed by the Chinese about 6 miles north of Hagaru-ri, began to arrive at the perimeter of Hagaru-ri and continued to do so for three or four days thereafter. Air evacuation of casualties began the afternoon of 1 December. First the casualties resulting from the defense of Hagaru-ri and those from the Army task Force were evacuated. During the evening of 3 December leading elements of the 7th Marine Regiment fought their way tot he perimeter of Hagaru-ri. The column continued closing Hagaru-ri until the afternoon of 4 December by which time all of the 5th and 7th Regimental Combat Teams had closed Hagaru-ri. This column brought with it over 1,500 casualties which were evacuated by air. In all, by 6 December, 3,150 Marine, 1,500 Army, and 25 Royal Marine Commando casualties were evacuated from the airstrip at Hagaru-ri. Also, 537 Marine replacements were flown in from Hungnam. The following able-bodied troops remained on 6 December for the attack south from Hagaru-ri to Koto-ri.) Marines and Navy Medical - 9,040 (approx) Army (including integrated South Koreans) - 650 (approx) Royal Marine Commando - 155 (approx) d. Defense of Koto-ri pending the arrival of the bulk of the Division there: Marines and Navy Medical - 2,820 (approx) Army (including integrated South Koreans) - 1,885 (approx) Royal Marine Commandos - 0 e. Attack from Koto-ri to Chinhung-ni, including attack of 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, from Chinhung-ni toward Koto-ri: Marines and Navy Medical - 12,880 (approx) Army (including integrated South Koreans) - 2,450 (approx) Royal Marine Commandos - 155 (approx)

5. With regard to attached Army units, until 29 November 1950, only 73 Army personnel were attached to the 1st Marine Division. On 29 November 1950, the X Corps assigned operational control of all Army units in the Hagaru-ri - Koto-ri area to the 1st Marine Division. With the arrival of the 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry (less Company E) at Koto-ri on December 1950, there were no further accretions of Army units because of the complete blocking by the Chinese of the road between Chinhung-ni and Koto-ri. Army units at Koto-ri and north thereof were divided into three groups, as follows: a. Eight miles north of Hagaru-ri on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir: Here Task Force Faith, an Army Task Force of about 2,800 men from the 31st and 32d Regimental Combat Teams, was under attack and cut off from Hagaru-ri. b. At Hagaru-ri: Here were several small miscellaneous Army units and detachments of units with a total strength of about 325 men. Part of these units had been destined for Task Force Faith but had been unable to reach that force. The remainder were detachments of units sent forward by X Corps in anticipation of the setting up of an advance Corps CP at Hagaru-ri. These detachments were likewise stranded. The principal units in this group were the Tank Company, 31st Infantry, and Company D, 10th Engineer (C) Battalion. c. At Koto-ri: Here were a large number of miscellaneous Army units and detachments of Army units. Part had been destined for Task Force Faith and part were being moved forward in anticipation of the establishment of an advance Corps CP at Hagaru-ri. All had been stranded at Koto-ri by enemy action. The principal units in this group were the 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry (less Company E), Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry, and 185th Engineer (C) Battalion (less Company A).

6. In its 9th endorsement hereon, the Department of the Army has listed the complete units comprising Task Force Faith. In the basic letter and proposed citation I have listed Task Force Faith as "Provisional Bn, U.S.A., (Dets. of 31st and 32d RCTs)." The reason for this will be apparent from what follows: a. During the evening of 29 November 1950, I received at Hagaru-ri a telephone call (radio link) from X Corps at Hamhung attaching Army Units in the Hagaru-ri - Koto-ri area to the 1st Marine Division, and directing me to extricate Task Force Faith, redeploy the 5th and 7th Regimental Combat Teams (Marine) from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri, and consolidate at the latter place. For the moment there were no ground troops available to extricate Task Force Faith. the garrison at Hagaru-ri had been heavily attacked and was fighting for its life and to protect the vital airstrip (from which 3,150 Marine, 1,500 Army and 25 Royal Marine Commando casualties were later evacuated) and supplies accumulated there. The 5th and 7th RCTs had to cut their way through four CCF Divisions to reach Hagaru-ri. (They did no reach there until 3 December.) Unlimited air cover was available to Task Force Faith. b. On 30 November Task Force Faith was advised by the 1st Marine Division that it was now attached to the 1st Marine Division, that it should make every effort to improve its situation by working toward Hagaru-ri, that it should do nothing which would jeopardize the safety of the wounded, that no infantry assistance could be rendered immediately, but that ample air cover was available. Shortly after acknowledgement of this order radio communication went out. c. During the evening of 1 December 1950, stragglers from the break-up of Task Force Faith (which had been overwhelmed by the Chinese) began to arrive at the perimeter of Hagaru-ri. These men came in small groups without any semblance of organization. Many had discarded their weapons. They brought out no equipment or vehicles. Most of them were suffering from frostbite. Stragglers continued to arrive for three or four days after 1 December. Most of them made their way in over the frozen surface of the reservoir. On 2 December, volunteers from units of the 1st Marine Division conducted operations to rescue the wounded and disabled of this Task Force. On 2 December, alone, over 300 of these were brought in. d. As the airstrip at Hagaru-ri had, on 1 December, become fully operational for C-47 aircraft, wounded and disabled men of Task Force Faith were immediately evacuated by air. By 5 December approximately 1,500 Army personnel had been evacuated by air from Hagaru-ri. Most of these came from Task Force Faith, some coming from Army units which had been part of the defense forces of Hagaru-ri. e. As stragglers from Task Force Faith began to arrive at Hagaru-ri, Lt. Col. Anderson, the senior Army officer of the 7th Division in Hagaru-ri, was directed to take charge of the stragglers and organize the able-bodied into a Provisional Battalion. Only 385 men were salvaged for inclusion in this Battalion. Many had to be rearmed and re-equipped. This Provisional Battalion took part in the attack of the 1st Marine Division from Hagaru-ri to the south. In the Task Organization of 1st Marine Division, OpnO 25-50 of 5 December 1950, which covered the attack of the Division from Hagaru-ri to the south, the Provisional Battalion was listed as attached to RCT-7 and is designated "Prov Bn, USA (31st Inf)." In the proposed citation enclosed with the basic letter, I have made the designation of this Provisional Battalion more descriptive of its composition, to wit, ";Prov Bn, USA (Dets of 31st and 32d RCTs, USA)". This Provisional Battalion remained constituted as such from 2 to 11 December 1950. Under the circumstances outlined above, I do not consider it justifiable to include the complete units as proposed by the Department of the Army.

7. The following comments are made regarding the other Army units which the Department of the Army proposes be included in the citation. a.     Co D, 10th Engineer (C) Bn Tank Co, 31st Infantry Hq Co, 31st Infantry 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry (less Company E) 185th Engineer (C) Bn (less Company A) These units should be included in the citation as they participated in the operations of the 1st Marine Division at Hagaru-ri and/or Koto-ri. The Tank Co, 31st Infantry; Hq Co, 31st Infantry, and 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry (less Company E) are in the Department of the Army 9th endorsement included within "31st Infantry (less Company E) and 1st Battalion, except Company B)" b.    Company B, 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry: This company, on 29 November 1950, joined itself to Task Force Drysdale. The infantry component of this task force consisted of a Marine Rifle Company, the Royal Marine Commandos, and Company B, 1st Battalion, 31st Infantry. The mission of the task force was to open up the road between Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri and reinforce the Marines at Hagaru-ri and the Army Task Force east of the Chosin Reservoir with men and supplies. Company B, 31st Infantry, was proceeding north to join the Army Task Force. The column was heavily attacked about half-way to Hagaru-ri. Part of Task Force Drysdale fought its way to Hagaru-ri. Part of the task Force fought its way back to Koto-ri. In this latter group were 69 survivors of Company B, 31st Infantry. The remainder of the members of Company B were missing in action. Although this company operated with the 1st Marine Division, as a company, for only one day, it is recommended that it be included in the proposed citation. In the basic letter the survivors of this company were listed as "Elements, 31st Inf, USA" and were included with the 2d Bn, 31st Infantry, which was at Koto-ri. c.     Battery A, 50th AAA (AW) Bn: The 1st Marine Division requested that this battery be sent to Koto-ri to reinforce the garrison there. Elements of the battery were pushed up the road from Chinhung-ni toward Koto-ri. This was more or less of a trial run. When it was found that the road was blocked by the Chinese, these elements of Battery A returned to Chinhung-ni. It is not considered that the battery should be included in the citation. d.    58th Engineer Treadway Bridge Company: Four trucks of this company, including drivers and a lieutenant, were stranded at Koto-ri as a result of enemy action. These trucks had no bridge material. They were loaded with hospital tents, side-walls, and tent decks, which were to be transported to Hagaru-ri to house the proposed advance CP of the X Corps. The tents were used at Koto-ri. Two of the trucks were used to transport airdropped sections of a Treadway Bridge from Koto-ri to the site of a blown bridge about 4 miles south thereof. The planning for and construction of this Treadway Bridge was accomplished by the 1st Engineer Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. The lieutenant who accompanied the trucks was of considerable assistance. This bridge company should not be included in the citation. e.    3d Battalion, 7th Infantry HQ & Hq Co, 52d Transportation Truck Bn Co A, 73d Engineer (C) Bn 92d Armored Field Artillery Bn 2d Platoon, 512th Engineer Dump Truck Co These units were not attached to the 1st Marine Division and did not participate in the operations north of Chinhung-ni. many Marine units, which I specifically excluded from the proposed citation, notably tank, artillery, engineer, signal, motor transport, ordnance and service units, operated along the main supply route between Chinhung-ni and Hamhung for longer periods of time than the above Army units which are proposed for inclusion in the citation. These marine units performed valuable missions in support of the breakout of the 1st Marine Division, but it was not considered that their service or the service of the Army units listed above, entitled them to the award of the Presidential Unit Citation. Very limited contact with the enemy was made by these Marine and Army units. It is definitely considered inappropriate to include the Army units listed above in the proposed citation.

8. In the enclosure to the basic letter I listed a number of detachments of Army units which the Department of the Army does not recognize as being present in the Chosin Reservoir area between 27 November and 11 December 1950. These were small detachments, mostly at Hagaru-ri and Koto-ri. There is no doubt but that the detachments were present as the division directed that an inventory be taken of these detachments. It is realized that it would be very difficult to locate the individuals in these detachments, since Army sources apparently have no record of their presence. Therefore, in the recapitulation of attached Army units which follows, these small detachments have been deleted.

9. It should be pointed out that if all Army units listed by the Department of the Army in the 9th endorsement hereon were included in the citation of the 1st Marine Division this would amount to some 8,000 Army personnel. Actually, at no time during the Chosin Reservoir Operation were there more than 2,535 Army personnel attached to the Division, and this figure included the South Koreans integrated in the units.

10. Information is not available as to whether VMO-6 (Marine Observation Squadron 6), 1st Marine Air Wing, has been included with the 1st Marine Air Wing in the Distinguished Unit Citation awarded that Wing by the Army. VMO-6 furnished the helicopters and liaison plane which accompanied the 1st Marine Division during the Chosin Reservoir Operation. The performance of this squadron was outstanding and it played a vital role in the successful breakout of the Division. It has been provisionally included in the attached units.

11. In addition to the organic units of the 1st Marine Division listed in the basic letter to be excluded from the proposed citation, the following artillery units should also be excluded: 4.5" Rocket Battery, 11th Marines Service Battery, 4th Battalion, 11th Marines These units were stationed on the Main Supply Route between Majon-dong and Oro-ri. This change has been reflected in the recapitulation given in paragraph 12, below.

12. Considering all the factors involved, it is recommended that the following units and detachments be included in the citation of the 1st Marine Division for the award of the Presidential Unit Citation for the period 27 November to 11 December 1950: Organic units of the 1st Marine Division: 1st Marine Division (less Det. Hq Bn; Det. 1st Serv Bn; Det. Hq and Cos A and C, 1st Tank Bn; Auto Sup Co, 1st MT Bn; Auto Maint Co, 1st MT Bn; Det. 1st Ord Bn; Det. Hq and Co A, 1st Med Bn: 1st SP Bn; 4.5" Rocket Btry and Serv Btry, 4th Bn, 11th Mar.) Attached Marine Corps Units: Cos A and B, 7th MT Bn, FMF; Det. Radio Rel Plat, FMF; Air Support Sec MTACS-2, 1st MAW; VMO-6 (if not included with the 1st MAW in the Distinguished Unit Citation awarded by the Army.) Attached Army Units: Prov Bn, USA (Dets 31st and 32d RCTs, USA) Co D, 10th Engr (C) Bn Tank Co, 31st Inf Hq Co, 31st Inf Co B, 1st Bn, 31st Inf 2d Bn, 31st Inf (less Co E) 185th Engr (C) Bn (less Co A) Attached Foreign Unit: 41st Independent Commando, Royal Marines.

OLIVER P. SMITH Copy to: CMC ----------- END 04.15.00




As we read books on the Chosin campaign we would often like to know more than the author is providing. It's especially interesting when one reads the complete source and realizes that those few statements could be expanded into not just paragraphs, but entire chapters. Cold at Chosin can have its twists and turns multiplied into numerous substories. There are the unknowns which come to mind, such as the depth of the ice on the reservoir or the source of daily water supplies. Stories can go on and on.


It's quite normal for researchers and authors, as well as readers, to get all wrapped up in the combat side of the Chosin story which causes them to lost sight of what's behind the rifle company or the infantry battalion. Read the books on Chosin and try to learn details about the 11th Marines artillery, or the 57th FA Bn east of Chosin before many or most ended up as riflemen. You won't find much. Nor will you find details on air support, just the fact that they received the support, nor on airlift, what they dropped, when and where. Yet that rifle company or battalion could never have accomplished what they did without that support. As we go on with our Changjin Journal we will try to dig into these facts, and ask you to contribute what you know about combat support and service support.

Before we leave the cold injury problem let is look at selected pages of The Medics' War by Albert E. Cowdrey, published 1987 by the Center of Military History, and see what they say about cold injuries.

During the advance to the Yalu "A tortuous evacuation route took form, running 40 miles from the advanced elements at Hyesanjin to a clearing station in the Hamlet of Kapsan; thence another 42 miles to Pungsan; and from there over mountainous and rough terrain to Pukchong. Here rail service and ambulances were available for the last 80 miles to the 121st [Evacuation Hospital]. To cover a relatively brief air distance, the injured had to travel some 230 road miles in temperatures that dropped as low as -24 degrees F.

"The Forces of General Winter. ... Icy winds stripped the heat from the body. In remote mountainous areas, where troops were fighting near the reservoirs ... , conditions were worst. In the 7th Division 142 men were treated for frostbite, and 83 of these were from the 31st Infantry, operating near the Pujon (Fusen) Reservoir. In the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir area, the temperature dropped forty degrees over the night of 10-11 November, from 32 to -8 degrees. More than 200 marines had to be hospitalized by Navy medics. Water-soluble medicines froze; plasma had to be warmed for an hour or more to be usable. ..."

"Yet many men succumbed to the fierceness of General Winter's first attack in November. In the rapid advance some units outran their supplies and failed to receive a full issue [of winter clothing and equipment.] ... Though efforts continued to fully equip the troops, numerous injuries appeared with the mid-November cold wave, shot upward in the week of 24 Nov - 1 Dec, and reached a peak of 293 admissions in the week of 29 Dec-5 Jan 1951. During 1950 a total of 1,791 cases were recorded, an incidence of 34 per 1,000 troops per annum. The 121st Evacuation Hospital [at Hungnam] alone recorded 850 cases between 12 Nov and 24 Dec and termed cold injury 'our most outstanding clinical experience.' As a result, the Far East Command on 29 Nov opened a cold injury treatment center at Osaka Army Hospital. But the early months of 1951 would see the problem become still more severe.

"Over the months that followed, research at Osaka and in the United States developed a picture of cold injury that revealed it to be far more than a matter of frozen toes. Involved in its incidence were factors of environment and heredity, military sociology, and battlefield realities. Basic of course was the climate of Korea, with its harsh Siberian winters and drastic temperature changes. Race was a factor. Black soldiers suffered more than whites, even in integrated units where differences in motivation, training, and discipline were at a minimum. Lower ranks (especially privates and Pfcs) suffered far beyond their proportionate numbers; line units, for evident reasons, more than support troops. For whatever cause, young soldiers appeared to be more susceptible than men over twenty-five, perhaps because of the lack of personal discipline. Soldiers from warm states apparently were more subject to injury than those from cold states. Surprisingly, no clear data emerged to justify the logical assumptions that veterans were less susceptible than replacements, and non-smokers--because tobacco causes constriction of peripheral blood vessels--than smokers."

"Cold injury struck both armies. The common American notion that Asian peasant soldiers were used to the winters of their homeland had some validity, yet General Winter took his toll among them as well. In one group of 227 Chinese prisoners taken by the 1st Marine Division, for example, 90 percent was reported to have varying degrees of frostbite. ...

"From the viewpoint of U.N. forces, however, General Winter made common cause with the invaders. Men pinned down in the snow or isolated by enveloping attacks were in no position to prevent frostbite by any available means. Peaks in cold injury coincided with peaks in enemy activity, winter's ice conspiring with hostile fire.

"The unavoidable factors of weather, heredity, and war, however, were not the whole story. Conceding the realities of the situation, the Far East Command admitted that many injuries were 'without question ... preventable.' A basic problem was the prescribed item of footwear--the shoepac, a winterized boot worn over heavy socks and felt insoles. Many complaints had surfaced during World War II about this piece of equipment. ... To avoid injury, troops in Korea, like those in WW II, were urged to remove the boot frequently and dry the socks and insole. Unfortunately, this was not very realistic under battlefield conditions. 'Were there nothing else for troops to do but protect themselves from the cold,' reported the command's Medical Section with some irony, 'protection might be afforded [by the shoepac]. ... However, the present equipment, particularly the footgear, will not provide the needed protection during active combat under the cold conditions which we have experienced in Korea.'

"The year ended with cold injury a problem still to be solved. General Winter's assault would have been serious under any conditions. But the course of war now intervened to make it incomparably worse."

"The main influence on changing work loads and evacuation policies [in Japan] was the constantly shifting course of events on the Korean battlefields. ... The FEC evacuation policy, after falling to 60 days, was changed back to 120 days during October. Then a new influx began--not only combat casualties but also the wave of cold injuries, the victims of General Winter. Between late November and late December 9,982 Army casualties were evacuated from Korea, of whom about 3,500 were wounded and the rest victims of nonbattle injuries and disease, primarily frostbite. On 3 December the 120-day policy was again reduced to 60 days. For all concerned, December was a busy month, the trains carrying some 8,900 hospital patients, 90 percent of them from the ports to the hospitals, only about 10 percent from the hospitals to duty."

"Treatment at the Tokyo Army Hospital emphasized conservative handling of two very common afflictions, burns and frostbite. ... In the opposite case--cold injury--the hospital favored gentle cleansing and bed rest, exposing the injured extremities to the air, and delaying amputations as long as possible. Toes that had become black and appeared gangrenous would often spontaneously shed the superficial layer to reveal a 'pink but complete and functional digit underneath.' By avoiding amputations, except where necessary, and by emphasizing supportive treatment the hospital not only obtained excellent clinical results but also sharply reduced demands upon the time of overworked doctors and nurses." [p.277-78]

"As Annex 2 it became a busy hospital in its own right under the command of Lt. Col. Kenneth D. Orr, who was later to coauthor many of the basic studies in cold injury prevention and treatment that came out of the Korean War. Incomparably the largest single cause of admissions to the medical service at Osaka, frostbite--often complicated by other wounds or by disease--became its most distinctive concern. In all, over two thousand cases of cold injury were admitted to the hospital during 1950. ...

"Study and treatment of cold injury, however, continued on a seasonal basis in Japan as well. In May 1951 the cold injury section closed and its staff moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky, taking with them a number of frostbite patients for further study. Here the basic research was done that made the Korean War a decisive event in medical understanding of the phenomenon. Contact with the Far East continued, for Korea remained overwhelmingly the place where the patients were. ..."

END 04.08.00

* * *



As we read books on the Chosin campaign we would often like to know more than the author is providing. It's especially interesting when one reads the complete source and realizes that those few statements could be expanded into not just paragraphs, but entire chapters. Cold at Chosin can have its twists and turns multiplied into numerous substories. There are the unknowns which come to mind, such as the depth of the ice on the reservoir or the source of daily water supplies. Stories can go on and on.


Here we have an extract from an interview on 4 January 1951 with the commander of the 7th Marines and his regimental surgeon. Read closely. When a person is interviewed too long after the fact, what you read is often what the historian interprets as important. Here the memory span is fresh. It won't be too long when we'll be able to listen to oral interviews over the Internet. For now, read on.

COMMANDER, SEVENTH MARINES Colonel Homer L. Litzenberg

"The Marine force was adequately equipped with cold weather clothing; long underwear, field jackets, sweaters, wind-proof trousers, caps with ear flaps, gloves, mittens, shoepacs, and ski socks, and the all-important parka and equally important sleeping bag. This clothing was considered adequate and in general satisfactory.

"The shoepac did not prove satisfactory for infantry in actual operations as it caused considerable foot trouble. During this operation we suffered many casualties from frostbite despite the rigid cold weather indoctrination of the men. In the 7th Marines we required each leader to certify each night that every man in his platoon had changed his socks during the past 24 hours, and we required officers and men alike to carry the socks and spare inner soles for the shoepacs inside their jackets next to their underwear. It was found that the body heat would dry both socks and insoles in less than 24 hours. And, it was convenient to carry these items in this manner and made them readily available for changing. We required the men to carry their sleeping bags with them wherever they went. We suffered a number of casualties from frostbite. I have investigated and consulted with doctors in the regiment, and the regimental surgeon seems to be of the opinion that at least 80% of our frostbite cases were due to the conditions of combat and not more than 20% can be attributed to neglect or carelessness on the part of individuals. Of about 1650, so called NBC [NonBattleCasualties], I estimate that 900 were frostbite cases, and as I have said more than 700 of these men actually suffered injuries during combat which were directly due to the conditions of the fighting.


"I think our NBC from frostbite were around 750; we also had 500 to 600 respiratory cased, including everything from bad colds to pneumonia. Under the conditions this figure seemed rather low to me. We arrived at our percentages on the ratio of NBC frostbite cases as to whether frostbite was avoidable through a variety of factors such as questioning men, talking to the platoon leader and going into the facts of the general situation.

"Another point is the duty performed by the individual, as to whether, for example, he was in headquarters or out on the front line for a prolonged period. About 95% were foot cases. I saw only a few men with frozen hands or ears. I think that not more than 10 amputations would come of this number, though there was a fairly high percentage which will require skin grafting. Most of the hand cases were mild. The ear cases were due in most instances to carelessness. I reached the conclusion, however, that there must be some element in the shoepac which was contributing to the high percentage of frozen feet.

"Despite the pressure during this operations the percentage of combat fatigue cases in the movement from Hagaru-ri to Yudam-ni and return was usually light. We had quite a number of men who had been in such a state of exhaustion that they were put to bed for a day or so, though they would bounce back fairly quickly and be returned to the line. But there were not more than a dozen real crackups. I noticed when we first moved up on the plateau near Koto-ri (9 Nov.) and met suddenly our first intense cold that there was a sock reaction among many of our men. This was true particularly of troops who had gone out on OP's. Throughout the night hundreds of men came to the various aid stations in a condition similar to what you would see of men under terrific mortar or artillery barrage. There was a marked tremor which was no simply that of men shivering from cold, and in some cases, there was a marked suppression of the respiratory rate.They responded to stimulant. In the less serious cases a shot of brandy and a little stove heat brought them back fairly quickly. This was a physical and mental change in these men due to the sharp cold. Some of them even came in sobbing. However, the cases all cleared up and I did not note any return of this condition as we moved farther north.

BACK TO LITZ Litzenberg: "At this time we established a system of warming tents. The canvas available permitted the issue of one tent per company; later this was increased to one tent per platoon. These tents were equipped with stoves and were located in the first sheltered spot behind the front lines. Permission was granted one man in six to go to the warming tent at a time. These tents were used both day and night throughout the remainder of the operation. The fuel presented quite a problem, but by one means or another (scrounging) fuel was obtained. Often we were able to obtain wood from houses that were bombed. The feature of the warming tent was hot coffee when available, and cans of boiling water were maintained in which to heat "C" rations. Despite our best efforts it was frequently impossible to thaw out the components of the "C" rations and only the bread unit could be eaten by many men. Weight losses of 15 to 20 pounds by some men during the operations have been reported to me.

"During the day of 30 Nov. about 450 casualties were moved by truck, mainly from the 7th Marines regimental aid station around to a position just south of 4/11 Marines in the South Valley, where the OY strip was under construction. The regimental aid station was transferred to that location. All casualties in the force were collected there. The medical personnel of all units helped to care for these casualties and the 4/11 rendered great service in feeding and caring for and keeping warm our casualties.


"1/7 was followed by a group of about 800 walking wounded, most of whom carried arms and replied to occasional snipers along the route. The other 1100 wounded and frostbite cases were on vehicles. the regimental S-1, CPT John Grove, was detailed to place the wounded assembled at the F/7 position on vehicles; as each vehicle passed the position it as halted and if there was space for another wounded man he was placed aboard. This caused considerable delay in the movement of vehicles down the hill, but all the wounded were accommodated eventually. Nobody knows the exact number of casualties we had at this time but it was in the neighborhood of 1900. The number depends to some extent on what you'd call a casualty. Many men walked down that hill, who should have been in ambulances. The casualties were divided into three general classifications; ambulatory, sitting patients who were placed in jeeps, and in assistant driver seats in the trucks; and stretcher patients, which were carried in ambulances and in the beds of trucks which had been loaded especially to make the wounded as comfortable as possible on top of the normal loads; that is whenever possible soft materials such as tents, parachutes, etc. were spread evenly across the top of the normal loads. The wounded were attended along the way by the medical personnel and by the artillery men of 4/11 who had been detached to furnish close-in protection of the trucks and wounded. Between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri we lost four wounded men, two seriously wounded died enroute of their wounds. Two were killed the night of December 3-4 when a truck turned over on its side at a broken bridge. We buried 87 at Yudam-ni before we left. We buried a number of dead at F/7 position. Some others had to be buried along the road, but I do not know the number.

[Upon arrival at Hagaru] Bivouac sites had been assigned and all galleys at Hagaru-ri were prepared to feed hot meals. Every officer and man was fed as soon as he dropped his pack. Medical authorities had been notified of the number of casualties and did an outstanding job of taking care of our wounded, frostbite cases, and exhausted Marines.Within 48 hours, 2300 men were evacuated by air; most of these from the Yudam-ni force. This completed the move from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri."


Those who tend to compare west with east of Chosin, will note the "warming tents" mentioned by Colonel Litzenberg, in time having one tent per platoon. That was a very important factor in holding down the cold casualties. This was possible because the 7th Marines departed Hagaru for Yudam on Thanksgiving Day, Nov 23, and had almost four days during which to build up their logistic base - supply dumps, medical facilities and the much needed warming tents. On the east side of the reservoir the lead combat units of the regiment were arriving just hours before the Chinese attack, with no time to build up a support base. As with all tactical movements, the regiment's supply and service units were far behind at the time the Chinese cut the MSR, still on the move from the Fusen Reservoir area. And finally, the regiment's medical company was ambushed with that capability destroyed within the hour of the first attack. It was different.


The technique for drying socks by putting them next to the body was from the old school, even in 1950. There is no assurance that the body's "warmth" was dry, especially for the infantryman climbing mountains. The new school at the time, which had yet to reach leaders, was that of freeze drying. Yankees of that day may remember mother hanging laundry on the line in winter, letting the moisture freeze, then shaking out the ice before beinging it in the house to complete the process. At Chosin a large laundry pin served the purpose to hang extra socks and insoles on my pack harness. Then, before changing, beat and shake the hell out of the socks and insoles which got ride of 99% of the moisture. That was freeze drying at Chosin.

There have been various schools of thought about the [L.L. Bean] shoepac of the day, especially in comparison with wearing combat boots with overshoes, as was the preference of one battalion commander. However, the shoepac of the day was the best we had at the time; the thermal boot came later. Training, supervision and self-dicipline were and continue to be the key factors. Beyond that we note the calories of food actually needed in cold operations was far greater than the meager amount provided by the pancakes and warmed up C rations served to those endless chow lines by the Marine galleys and Army messes at Hagaru. Those who were there and able to continue the attack to the south are forever thankful for the quick energy provided by the Tootsie Rolls air dropped into that perimeter.

END 03.31.00

* * *

You can use Ctrl-F to search for words within this page.




IN THIS ISSUE we continue our study of soldiers of both sides fighting nature and trying to survive.

A letter from a friend asked ". . . nobody seems interested in how RCT 31 managed to survive at the inlet in spite of such terrible losses and poor resupply. . . . How should it be described?"

I believe RCT 31 troops survived the inlet battle as long as they did because of the tenacity of individual riflemen and gunners backed up by howitzers and AAA weapons. As long as both had ammunition and functioning weapons, and were defending in a tight perimeter, they did an effective job of holding back the enemy's night attacks while tactical aircraft convinced the Chinese to stay under cover during the day. The units didn't survive the breakout because they lost the principle of mass; they were strung out in a column, running out of ammunition, and soon arriving at Hill 1221 defended by fresh Chinese units which had been waiting for RCT 31 to attempt the breakout.

* * *

IMAGINE . . . Two young Chinese soldiers named Mer and Go had crossed the Yalu River and were marching every night and hiding during the day. They were then able to put down the extra ammo or mortar rounds they were carrying, then eat the meager ration and rest. This went on, night after night for two weeks, and each night Go complained to Mer that his thin comforter wasn't enough, and Mer complained the food wasn't enough to keep his stomach warm. The leader would often say they were not meeting their distance quota so they would have to run; after an hour or more they were covered with sweat which began turning to ice as soon as they stopped. They had no mittens or gloves, so the long sleeves of their quilted parkas served to keep hands warm. And the tennis shoes with heavy socks didn't protect their feet. They were told each night that by morning they would arrive at warm houses to shelter them for the daylight hours, but by the time they arrived the American bombers had destroyed the buildings and all the civilians had fled with the food. By then the temperature was below freezing and the snow covered ground was turning to ice. Finally the order came to prepare for the attack: regiment telling battalion telling the company leader who carefully told the men what formation they would use, what signals were in effect for that night, and a description of their objective.

As soon as they launched the attack they had to handle the metal of rifles and machine guns and mortars with bare hands. The extreme cold reacted on the ammunition, especially the mortar rounds which would land far off target or not leave the tube at all. Soon the commander learned that his only advantage was manpower, his firepower no longer being as effective as it should be. Before daylight they had to take cover and conceal themselves from the American aircraft. And that's when Father Winter took hold of unprepared soldiers, freezing their feet and hands and causing cramps to their empty stomachs. It was also when Mer and Go would search the battlefield for more and better clothing, stipping the enemy dead for mittens and boots, of parkas and pile caps. Battlefield survival.

ROY APPLEMAN'S ESCAPING THE TRAP That's the way most of the Chinese soldiers fought the battle of Chosin. We now look at Chapter 15 of Appleman's book, pp.354-5.

The individual Chinese soldier had serious problems: "The troops did not have enough food. They did not have enough houses to live in, they could not stand the bitter cold, which was the reason for the excessive non-combat reduction in personnel (more than 10 thousand persons), the weapons were not used effectively. When the fighters bivouacked in snow-covered ground during combat, there feet, socks, and hands were frozen together in one ice-ball; they could not unscrew the caps on the hand grenades; the fuses would not ignite; the hands were not supple; the mortar tubes shrank on account of the cold; 70 percent of the shells failed to detonate; skin from the hands was stuck on the shells and mortar tubes."

UNITS AND COMMANDER'S PROBLEMS "Our signal communication was not up to standard ... ... it took more than two days to receive instructions from higher level units. Rapid changes in the enemy's situation and the slow motion of our signal communications caused us to lose our opportunities in combat and made the instructions of the high level units ineffective ... We succeeded in the separation and encirclement of the enemy, but we failed to annihilate the enemy one by one.  The units failed to carry out the orders of the higher echelon. For example, the failure to annihilate the enemy at Yudam-ni made it impossible to annihilate the enemy at Hagaru-ri. The higher level units refusal of the lower level units' suggestion of rapidly starting the combat and exterminating the enemy one by one gave the enemy a chance to break out from the encirclement."

The combination of the two problems - individual and unit - identifies the reason why the Chinese were not able to "annihilate" the Americans at Chosin. Even while moving their divisions from China into their initial attack positions, they were already suffering cold casualties. Then, after the initial attacks the Chinese soldiers were required to bed down in the snow, camouflage themselves from our friendly air, and be prepared to continue the attack the next night. This, in the weather conditions they faced in tennis shoes and no gloves or mittens, did nothing more than add to the cold casualties they already had. The unit problem could only be solved by unit replacement. When they ran out of ammo and other materials which the supply system could not accommodate, the only option was to replace the regiment or division. As the battle progressed, they began to run out of effective units.

Another problem was the attack plan, that of cutting and dividing when, in fact, they were initially doing it to a moving enemy of unknown quantity, after which they didn't have the capability of making rapid changes in attack plans and orders. The plan was to attack one Marine regiment on each side of the reservoir, an ideal situation for the planned encirclement. The November 27 attack west of Yudam by the 5th Marines also screwed up their plans. They did target Hill 1221 east of Chosin as important because it was on the axis of their main effort to take Hagaru, so they took 1221 in the beginning and held it until the end.

The Chinese did not succeed because they did not have the capability of doing so. Some say they forgot to bring warming tents. Is it as simple as that?

END 03.26.00

* * *


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 Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee  

The Society of Military History will hold its annual conference at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, VA, on 28-30 April 2000. The themes of the conference will be "Korea 1950 and 400 Years of Limited War." Further information is available from Professor Gordon Rudd, Command & Staff College, Marine Corps University, 2076 South Street, Quantico, VA 22134-5068.

The U.S. Army Center of Military History will hold its biennial Conference of Army Historians on 6-8 June 2000 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, VA. The theme of the conference will be the Korean War and its impact. Further information may be obtained by contacting William Stivers by phone at (202) 685-2729 or by email at        

The U.S. Army Chapter of The Chosin Few will hold it's History Seminar 0900-1100, Saturday, 10 June 2000, as part of its 50th Anniversary Reunion (7-10 June) at the Eden Resort Inn & Conference Center, 2223 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA, 17601, (717) 569-6444. For reunion registration contact: Lavern Tate, Secretary/Treasurer, 7206 Dalewood St., Florence, AL 35634, phone (256) 757-5924. This seminar will include a presentation of "The Chosin Chronology" followed by a discussion about the Presidential unit Citation (Navy) for units of the 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT 31). Persons who wish to attend the History Seminar - but do not plan to participate in other reunion activities - should contact Lavern Tate for reservations. The Chosin Chronology was first presented to the Chosin Few at its 1992 New Orleans reunion after which General Ray Davis, MoH, summarized and said "I learned more here today than I had ever known about Chosin." It was most recently presented at the Finnish National Defense College, Helsinki, Finland. During the Finland presentation Chosin was compared with Finland's battle of Suomusalmi in Nov-Dec 1939 during which one Finnish Division annihilated two invading Soviet divisions; a tactic the Chinese tried at Chosin but were not successful.

ADMINISTRATION         This Changjin Journal (CJe) is an electronic newsletter distributed through the Internet; it is not currently available as a written publication. As previously announced, chapters of the Chosin Few as well as other veteran's associations related to the Korean War may use complete verbatim articles from the CJe with appropriate source citations. The editor welcomes comments on articles contained in CJe and will consider brief essays submitted through the Internet for publication.        

Since the first issue on 01.11.00, the journal's distribution lists have been constructed from messages seen among members of the Chosin Few and other sources. The "To" list on the CJe you receive does not include all recipients, as currently we are using four separate lists. One specific list  <changjinjournallist> is being created based on individual requests by persons who provide their full name, Chosin unit and email address. If you have a Chosin friend who is not receiving CJe, give them our address at <> and we will place them on the list as soon as they respond.         In addition to Chosin Few members, CJe is sent to to military associations and organizations for which we have email addresses, with emphasis on those which have offices interested in the history of the Korean War. If you know of any we may have missed, please send us their email address.        

Suggestions. If you have specific questions about the Chosin campaign, or related history coverage of that battle, please send them to us and we will do our best to provide an answer, or search our sources to find the answer. Keep in mind that accuracy is limited when it comes to specific numbers. We often prefer to say a CCF division was about 8,000 troops, especially since the Chinese have not provided specific numbers. The same is true for our own casualties, especially of the units which fought the battle east of Chosin which resulted in rounded numbers of missing in action, as well as rounded numbers of those evacuated by air which were never tabulated later into the historical record; many remain on individual charts within the archives of the hospital evacuation system.         Arraignments are in progress to have the Changjin Journal hosted by the website of the New York Military Affairs Symposium at: We will announce when the Journal is on board; in the meantime, pay them a visit.        

We received this recently from: <korea50@HQDA.ARMY.MIL>  "One of the many tools available to educate the public about the Korean War is Cobblestone magazine. Cobblestone is "the magazine that makes American History come alive for readers ages 9-14." In partnership with the Korean War Commemoration Committee, the Cobblestone Publishing Company created a special issue recognizing the Korean War. This special issue is designed to commemorate the men and women who served in the war. Highlights of the issue include articles on the war, maps, crossword puzzles and interviews. To view this special Korean War issue of Cobblestone, please click:   

We have just received from Korea a copy of KORUS magazine, March 2000, a special edition highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War: Outbreak of hostilities, Task Force Smith, Pusan perimeter, Inchon landing and Chosin Reservoir; each item having no more than two pages including photographs. As for accuracy, page two starts off with a familiar number - "war that took the lives of 54,000 Americans" - when the correct figure is more like 33,651. Your CJe editor was not at all surprised to find which outfits were noted in the brief coverage of the Inchon Landing or Chosin Reservoir. See KORUS online at

FUTURE ISSUES OF CHANGJIN JOURNAL         At present we have a small backlog on cold, the weather at Chosin and related problems. After that we will respond to a recent request for background on the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) for the 1st Marine Division Reinforced for the Chosin campaign. Since this subject is rather lengthy, we will do our best to divide the essays and copies of documents in an understandable sequence. - - -


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 Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee

BREAKOUT: A BOOK REVIEW Following contemporary writings on Chosin continues to be interesting, especially one written by a known author and sea-soldier who did not serve in that battle, nor in Korea at the time. We have followed other reviews of this book and noted that reviews written in newspapers from New York Times to the Kansas City Star were favorable, all written by former Marines. Here is a review by a soldier who is quite familiar with the 1st Marine Division, having been in an Army regiment attached to the division in major battles of two wars - Peleliu and Chosin. BREAKOUT: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950, by Martin Russ. Published by Fromm International Publishing Corp., NY, 1999.        

Martin Russ - a good storyteller - has taken on a challenge by attempting to portray history through a series of short stories of individual actions. This is a difficult task;  one can get so wrapped up in hype he may lose sight of facts as well as the big picture.       

When I heard that Martin Russ finally came out with his book Breakout, I was anxious to get a copy, in fact I did just 24 hours before heading west to a reunion at Branson. Before leaving I was able to look at my Russ file where I saw we had exchanged letters from 1985 to 1994 when it stopped abruptly, also seeing that the file did not contain any drafts involving parts relating to Army units. I scanned the first few chapters before arriving at Branson where I began hearing sharp comments about the book.        

The first alert came when I read the Introduction and wondered why Martin didn't understand the organization of the Army units at Chosin, listing on page four 1/32, 2/32 and 3/32, a major goof since the units were 1/32, 2/31 and 3/31, all part of "RCT 31".        
Then came the bomb dropped when he called us the "Army's hapless minions," [p.6] claiming that the Marines were "readier to go in harms way" than we were. It seems strange to some watchers that, since their last beachhead in the Pacific war, they haven't been first in any one of our diminishing battlefields. So be it, for some masters of hype are ready at the click of a mouse to use fault finding as a means to enhance their own image. Watch closely, for such smoke screens may be present to conceal that which is intended to be hidden.        

Even before leaving Branson I was handed notes by readers identifying pages which carry intentional derogatory slights which have no bearing on the story being told. However, let's not lose sight of the fact that the author - a jarhead - is a good storyteller; reminds me to disagree with one of our leaders who said from the Branson podium "don't buy the book." Interesting, especially since he had not read the book. In war we should always remember that old axiom  "know your enemy"  even if he turns out to be a storyteller. "Unlike the army" [p.13] the master of army-bashing Mr. Lee claims to leave their ships in more squared-away condition; hardly an item of significance to be filling the pages of BREAKOUT. A serious "contretemps." Had to check the book on that one: ...causing confusion or embarrassment; that Almond considered substituting the 32d Infantry for the 5th Marines for the Inchon landing. That was no doubt an insult to the Marine specialty, even though War II veterans know that more Army divisions made amphibious landings in the Pacific than did Marine divisions, to say nothing about Normandy on the other side of the world war. Oh well, let them have their say, it helps them fight the budget battles in Washington. As I wondered what Martin Russ was leading to I turned page and found it; the corps commander had a fancier mess than did Gen. Smith -  the ultimate in envy?    

p.52 "It would not be the last time during the Chosin Reservoir campaign that the Marines would deal with an underperforming U.S. Army outfit." Tab that and search for the next one.        
p.82 "Once again, X Corps seemed perversely intent on arranging it so that the two forwardmost Marine regiments could not support each other in case of trouble; ... ."  p.84 "By the 26th all elements of the 5th Marines had been relieved east of the reservoir by troops of the 31st infantry Regiment." The 5th Marines (minus one Bn already at Yudam) remained east of Chosin until 27 Nov at which time they were physically relieved by the arrival of elements of RCT 31.The Chinese attacked within hours after the relief.        
p.84-85 Here we note the author's attempt to explain "holding" and "enveloping forces" in a way to hype the Marines by calling the Eighth Army's withdrawal a "rout." His explanation could hardly stand up in our service colleges. We question whether the "X Corps staff bothered to pass word of the disaster to the Marines," especially since the 1MarDiv liaison officer to X Corps Hq, Major McLaughlin, had the mission of keeping his commander informed.        
p.86-87 We read here about a favorite subject of those who have studied the methods for collection of intelligence at Chosin. Here the author provides excellent example of how not to gather intelligence on the enemy, i.e., the use of large combat patrols rather than small recon patrols. Here is an example of a regimental commander deciding to send a "strong patrol" - an entire company A/7 - it's mission being "to determine the strength, disposition, and attitude of the enemy." For those not familiar, this was a very noisy combat patrol, not a lean reconnaissance patrol which is designed to perform such a mission. The author does a good job of explaining what can happen to this type patrol, although he does not address the fundamental problem. Combat patrols are designed to find and fix the enemy - it's organized to fight; recon patrols have but one mission: find, observe and report on the enemy. [Read later on p.98 about an 85-man patrol.]         p.106 And then we come to a soldier named Ed Arney of G/31 who said "everything was a mess" in text relating to east of Chosin on the 27th. Interesting, especially since Arney's company was about one hundred road miles from the Reservoir at the time.  
In reference to the I&R Platoon, the "attack must have been sudden and overwhelming." No doubt, as the enemy had been within attack range of the 5th Marines and never uncovered by those company size patrols. Actually the action may have been like a meeting engagement, the I&R Platoon moving out to occupy their screening positions and meeting an entire CCF division. Those "eight Chinese divisions" had to have been on the other side of the next mountain both in the Inlet and Yudam areas to have been able to launch their attacks around midnight.        
p.107 "The morale of the Army troops was drastically below that of the Marines." A strong statement for one who had not been there.        
p.109 Not many of the "doggies," as the author describes "those who survived the campaign," would hardly find Beall as "their savior" because they never saw nor heard of him until the masters of hype used Beall's after-action report in their hate campaign. Beall did save a few of the reported 385 he assisted on the ice of the reservoir, but the Marines didn't "save the army" as was later hyped. In time, it was learned that the battle fought by RCT 31 east of Chosin is what saved the 1MarDiv.        
p.113-4 The author's statistics are a bit incomplete for the night of 27-28 Nov. Missing east of Chosin are the Army elements, namely Tank/31 and others at Hudong-ni. Koto did not have 1,000 Army troops at that time because 2/31 did not arrive until 1 Dec. Most Army units on 27-28 Nov were still on the move.        
p.118-21 Soldiers of Changjin are finally grateful to read an honest and reasonably accurate story of H/7 and the company's experience on Hill 1403, especially since it parallels the experience of one company east of Chosin where two infantry battalions defended themselves against two CCF divisions.         Although my copy still has many more penciled marks, there's no need to go on. You get the point. However, just as I was putting this review to bed my friend Andy who entered the Marine Corp the day I entered the Army, sent me the review published in the July 1999 issue of Leatherneck. 

We note that the reviewer who wrote "Devil Dogs," is also short on knowledge of Chosin, especially his words that "The author covers most of what you need to know about Frozen Chosin, ... ." I believe the comments made in the above paragraphs of this review are sufficient to counter the reviewer's concluding remark that "Martin Russ covers the entire story, not leaving anything to your imagination."         Let's ignore any further nit-picks and make a quantum leap to p.429-30 where we find the author's parenthetical statement "(The Marines' disgust and outrage over the Army's performance at the Reservoir reached such a pitch that the secretary of the Navy, Francis B. Matthews, send an official message, LANAV 126, to unit commanders, directing that "no member of the naval service utter any comment reflecting adversely upon or belittling the role of any other branch of service....Please assure that all Marine personnel returning to the United States are provided with thorough instruction on the contents of ALNAV 126 and its implications concerning interviews with press and radio.") That guidance apparently never reached Navy Chaplain Sporrer.         I found the book worth reading. Check for a copy at your local library. - GAR/Historian [Published in the August 1999 issue of CHANGJIN, newsletter of the Army Chapter of the Chosin Few.] - - - - -

End Notes: A contemporary wrote of the above review: "This seems to be well organized in thought and writing.  You will be challenged by some un-informed marine.  I would view that as an opportunity to continue to set the record straight - and do so with glee.  The informed marines know the issues, but may be reluctant  to oppose the [uninformed]  majority. - - - - - END



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.
Col. George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee


There have been many different numbers representing statistics from the Korean War which cause readers to wonder where they came from. This applies also to terminology. One big number which stands out has been the total killed during the war, with the largest 54,000 being used by those who seem to like big numbers. The number 54,000 is entirely incorrect because it represents the total number of military persons of all services who died worldwide during that time period of that war. The closest correct number today is 33,651 killed or died in Korea or surrounding waters. The next whopper of a number seen has been "we were attacked by 120,000 Chinese soldiers." This number came from being  attacked by the IX Army Group which has made up of 12 divisions, assuming each division had 10,000 men." That's stretching it since Appleman reports that each division numbered about 7,500 to 8,000,  and contact was made with elements of eight divisions; Maj. Gen. Smith's Aide Memoir reports "elements of six divisions."

If you take Appleman's eight times eight you come up with an enemy strength of 64,000, while Smith's comes to 48,000. These numbers are only as good as our understanding of the combat power related to the numbers. The Chinese divisions crossed the Yalu River and made the long trek to the Chosin battlefield with the ammunition, food and other necessities they could carry on their backs, animals or ox carts. What does that mean? It means that a CCF division had the capability of one day of attack, after which it had to be replaced by another division. We should also remember that the Chinese units were very limited in the ability to communicate, so an attack was launched by a unit which could be controlled with voice, bugles, whistles and other signaling devices. There has been a tendency to take the word of one or a few prisoners captured in one location and assume the entire division was at that location. One example is the CCF 89th Division which reportedly attacked the Marines at Yudam-ni. Elements of the same division attacked the 1st Bn, 7th Inf. of the 3d Division at Sachang-ni, 30 miles south of Yudam-ni, which according to Chinese documents was an objective of the 89th Division. Accept the fact that we will never know in detail which CCF company, battalion or regiment attacked at a specific time and place.

We continue to wonder why the CCF were not able to take out Fox Company, 7th Marines (F/7), in the Toktong Pass before the arrival of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7) relief force from Yudam. The first answer is the mission to take the Pass was probably based on their intelligence that it would not be occupied, or the occupants would have little defensive power. Once they met the firepower of F/7 supported by artillery from Hagaru and tactical air support, their limited comm system (runners) and reinforcement available prevented them from applying enough power to do the job. The enemy didn't use the principle of MASS in the right place at the right time. Numbers do not automatically equate to combat power. Friendly casualties. For the "battle of Chosin" one of the Chosin Few chapters has consistently used on the cover of their newsletter "3,000 killed and 9,000 wounded." On a TV Discovery Channel show recently I heard "3,000 killed and 10,000 wounded."

What is correct? 1MarDiv: The X Corps chart for 27 Nov-10 Dec 1950 shows the division with 393 KIA, 2,153 WIA, 76 MIA, for a total of 2,621. However, the 1MarDiv report reads 454 KIA, 94 DOW, 179 MIA, 2,844 WIA, for a total of 3,571. 7th Inf Div: Here we have a problem because the X Corps chart show the division with 70 KIA,  185 WIA, 2,505 MIA, for a total of 2,760.  The problem we face with these figures is the fact that they are based on muster reports by units after arrival in the Hungnam area. At that time the RCT 31 units didn't know who or how many had been evacuated by air from Hagaru, Koto or even nearby Yonpo airfield. Regretfully our military historians left it as a forgotten chart from the forgotten war. Those close to the battle statistics are inclined to agree that of the RCT 31 units which fought the battle east of Chosin, a total of about 3,500 (including KATUSAs): 1,500 KIA, 900-plus WIA and cold injury evacuated from Hagaru, about 400 with the "Provisional Battalion" attached to the 7th Marines for the breakout, and others unknown. I believe the best indicator of the casualties from RCT 31 units east of Chosin can be explained in the muster results in the Hungnam perimeter on about 12-13 December: the 3d Bn, 31st Inf (3/31) had more than 85% enlisted casualties, and the last officer was evacuated that day for cold injuries, resulting in a total of 100% officer casualties. The 7th Div had the highest field grade officer casualties in the Corps, with all but one from RCT 31 east of Chosin.

For further details about friendly and enemy casualties, we suggest reading Chapter 15, Results of the Chosin Campaign, in ESCAPING THE TRAP by Roy Appleman. How cold was it at Chosin? This is often asked of those who had been there. The replies vary depending on where units were located at the time in question, varying also depending on the person being questioned - from twenty below to "wow, we had wind chill of ninety below." Most who tend to use extremes of cold are usually those who had little or no experience in cold weather, nor do they realize that one mountain valley can read ten above while an adjacent valley is ten below. The real killer in the Chosin area is when a high pressure moved in from Siberia and sits on you with calm starlit skies; that's when to look at the lower part of the scale to locate the mercury. Those who were on the the ridges south of Koto, high above the Funchilin Pass on the nights of 8 & 9 December, will never forget what it was like without a sleeping bag and warming tent. In the 7th Division sector at Pukchong, northeast of the Fusen Reservoir, they officially recorded "40 below" - that's where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales intersect - a temperature which, when modified by wind-chill, is guaranteed to kill the unprepared. It takes a genius to come up with the idea of equating numbers of medals awarded with the success of a military operation. Some are reminded of that old saying "you can't tell a book by it's cover" as it relates to "you can't tell a man by the medals on his chest."

There are some interesting writings about the power of the pen as related to the power of command policy. Some of the best writings on the subject come from former public relations officers, many of whom were newspaper or related P.R. people in civilian life. Without going further into this subject, let us all accept the fact that numbers and types of medals awarded can hardly define the success of a military operation with any sense of accuracy. Friendly and enemy dead are not available to bear witness, so the subject belongs in the realm of hype. And finally, terminology. Please be advised by the former assistant S-3 (operations 0fficer) of RCT 31 that the terms "Task Force MacLean" and "Task Force Faith" never existed during the Chosin operation. The unit was the 31st Regimental Combat Team, or RCT 31. The task force terms were inventions of historians, the first being used in Chapter 6, Chosin Reservoir, of the Army Historical Series COMBAT ACTIONS IN KOREA by Russell A. Gugeler. This article was based on interviews with members of 1/32 after it returned to South Korea, and since that time "borrowed" by subsequent authors who neglected in-depth research. A "task force" during Korea was a unit organized for and given a specific mission, and disbanded after the mission was accomplished. During the Chosin campaign there were two task forces organized for a specific mission. They were "Task Force Drysdale" which was organized around the 41 Commando and given the mission of moving reinforcements from Koto to Hagaru. The other was" Task Force Dog" of the 3d Inf. Division which was given the mission of moving from Hamhung to and relieving the 1st Bn, 1st Marines at Chinhung-ni, so the 1/1 Marines could then move north to attack and seize Hill 1081 in the Funchilin Pass on 8-9 December. These are subjects which began long before the Halls of Montezuma and will continue ad infinitum. We hear them spoken of at the various reunions of the Chosin Few. Please understand that writings in the Changjin Journal about subjects as this are intended to cause readers to . . . THINK DIFFERENT. - - - END  



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. Col. George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee

The fortunate few were those who had been stationed in Hokkaido the previous winter with the 31st Infantry. It was a winter of deep snow and moderate cold, as compared with Chosin which was little snow with extreme cold. The troops wore the old 10th Mountain Division parka shells while they trained with skis and snowshoes. But more important was on-the-job training, experiencing cold.

IN THIS ISSUE We are fortunate to have first hand experience by retired PFC Ed Reeves who was with King Company, 31st Infantry, and who, after five days and nights east of Chosin, came very close to giving all for his country. Ed responds to our last Changjin Journal wherein we quoted Roy Appleman about cold weather clothing and then explains the problems he had in King Company. Let's keep in mind that the availability of cold weather clothing depended entirely on the supply system of the services. In Korea the Army was rushing to support five infantry divisions plus thousands of troops in combat support units, while at the same time supporting the top priority forces in the European Theater. The U.S. wasn't ready for a war in Korea. ED REEVES K3/31 - East of Chosin

"Thanks for sending the Changjin Journal! "Your comments [quoting Appleman in] 02.18.00 on G.I. clothing being adequate may apply to marines or some elements of our division but not to K Company, 31st Infantry (K/31). Aboard ship at Pusan we were issued our winter gear: wool long-johns, pile liner vest to go under the field jacket, shoe pacs, two pair of wool socks, dress leather gloves with wool inserts,  cotton reversible green/white camouflage parka [unlined windbreaker used by 10th Mountain Division in WW II], and water-resistant (until you slid down or crawled across a few ridges) field pants.  To help keep ears warm we turned down the ear flap in the fatigue cap we wore under our helmets. The men in K/31 who received winter gloves were on crew- served heavy weapons. At the temperatures we experienced at Fusen and Chosin the leather gloves would become as stiff as cardboard and you could not load/fireservice your weapon. Riflemen wore their second pair of socks as gloves [mittens] so they wouldn't freeze to their weapon. Some K/31 men who were issued the winter gloves and extra insoles for shoepacs thought everyone got the same issue and had lost them or traded them off.  

"At Percy Jones Army Hospital [Battle Creek, Michigan] a "freshly minted lieutenant" doctor came into my gangrene/amputation wardroom. He checked our records as he walked by the beds and looked over each patient. Many of the men still had black parts that hadn't been removed. (I still had the black fingers on my left hand.) After his circle around the large room he ordered the television turned off and asked all to pay attention. With many adjectives about how disturbing our frostbite was to him he told us that most of us wouldn't be there if we had followed cold weather procedures and had buddies check each other for frostbite every hour. That we should have removed our boots, checked and massaged feet while checking for frostbite. It hurt to laugh but we all did. The confused doctor headed to the nurse station to ask why we laughed. The medics there explained Korea winter and the conditions most patients had been fighting in.   "In many books about Chosin, it states that the men fighting at the rear of  'Task Force Faith' [RCT 31] ran forward 'deserting' the wounded in the trucks. Not so! As often as this subject comes up I try to inform [those listening] because I was there in that last truck. Most of the men fighting at the rear of the column were walking wounded (they would have been in a hospital Intensive Care Unit if in the states). They were opening wounds by pushing trucks back on the road. Under long-range fire they walked beside the trucks giving words of encouragement to the "riding wounded" and firing on approaching enemy soldiers. One of these men was John Durham (one of Ben Dryden's mortarmen) who had most of one cheek of his fanny blown off but was still fighting. We lost our fighting walking-wounded when an officer (don't know who) came back calling for these men to come forward and help break a roadblock. That 's when the last truck was reduced to defense by a severely wounded driver (our fifth, or more, as they were killed by incoming and replaced by another wounded men), a wounded "shotgun" [security guard] and a badly wounded man with a carbine on the tailgate. Someone on a ridge, or looking at the column rear, must have assumed the rear guard was leaving on it's own. Ben Dryden calmly strolled the road (ignoring incoming and shooting Chinese soldiers gaining the road) telling men in every truck to "Get going toward Hagaru-ri now! This column is blocked and has run out of everything. If you stay you'll soon be prisoners." Rocco Conforti  of K/31 managed to get off the truck and hide in the snow under some brush as the Chinese soldiers approached. He was at Valley Forge Army Hospital with me and shared how helpless he felt watching the executions. Again, big thanks. PFC. Ed Reeves"

Ed Reeves added the following in reply to a few questions. "Please use this. It will enlighten some. I was asked at a reunion how often we were rotated to a warming tent. I told the person we didn't know what a warming tent was, and if we had them who would gather in a tent in the middle of a perimeter you could shoot aimed rifle fire across? "Jim DeLong was with the machine guns in King Company and he thought everyone got the trigger-finger mittens and extra innersoles he had. "The 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon of K/31 was issued "black, dress-leather gloves with wool inserts." I had these when cadre at Fort Riley in the winter of 1949-50 (where we could go inside out of the weather).  Even in warm areas just off the boat at Iwon these made working your weapon a clumsy, slow affair but you could get by. I worried about this because we were doing more and more patrolling in the mountains as we neared the Fusen Reservoir. I wanted to be able get a clip in the M1 quickly. When the thermometer took a nosedive [to 14 below zero on Nov. 14th] it wasn't too smart to wear gloves that separated the fingers. Also, the leather wouldn't bend or give trigger feel. (I had that match-grade sniper M1 with easy-pull trigger.)

"Our squad tried different ways to keep hands warm. (On patrol you didn't walk around with hands in pockets.) I tried to use the inserts covered by the wool stockings but that also was too clumsy and hindered efficient working of the weapon. "That's when we went to just the wool stockings for gloves. Between attacks at Chosin when my hands became too cold to feel the M1 I'd pull the stockings and insert my hands up opposite sleeves. Where fingers touched the forearms it felt like I was rubbing with dry ice. If the CCF gave us the time the fingers would thaw enough to feel the weapon through the stockings. If there was no time to thaw you put the stockings on, jammed your finger into the trigger guard, pointed the weapon and jerked at the trigger. (A squeeze is impossible if you can't feel and if they are close enough to touch an aim isn't needed.) "I fought putting on the wool long-johns till just before the 'hike' [long ride] to Chosin. They itched like mad. When the cold was worse than itch I gave cigarettes to a farmer to use his warm house and have hot water for a bath. Then the wool went on over clean skin which probably held down some of the infection when I was hit  the first time on the morning of November 28."

_ _ _ End Notes: Jim DeLong is one of the fortunate few, for he attributes his survival as a POW captured east of Chosin to the training he had received the previous winter with King Company in Hokkaido. END



This is the fifth issue of "The Changjin Journal" which is designed to both disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. See End Notes for distribution and other notices.
Col. George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee

In the last issue we discussed the theory that the Chinese, not having the capability of making rapid changes in plans due to inadequate signal commo, were, on the night 27-28 November, attacking the 5th Marines east of the Reservoir when, in fact, the lead battalions of RCT 31 had just arrived hours before and had relieved the 5th Marines. Let's look further at Chinese documents and see what else may be different. We can use knowledge gained from Chinese documents (often written years later based on the political climate of the moment) to learn why the CCF were not successful in annihilating the U.N. forces at Chosin. But first, let's look deeper at what they had written.  [Comments for clarification will be in brackets.]

"Heavy snow fell throughout the eastern front on the 27th. The temperature dropped to 30 below zero Celsius. It was severely cold, making it very difficult to fight and bring up rations and ammunition. "That night our 9th Army Group launched a counterattack according to plan and quickly cut up and encircled the Changjin Reservoir enemy . . .. "The 58th Division entered the Sangpyong-ni area and encircled the Yudam-ni area enemy on three sides, east south and west. This Army's 59th Division seized positions at Sayong [Toktong] Pass and Sohung-ni, northwest of Hagaru-ri, cutting the enemy's contact between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. This Army's 89th Division pressed closer to Sachang-ni. [Location of 1st Bn, 7th Inf, 3d Div] "The 79th Division attacked toward the Yudam-ni enemy and destroyed part of the enemy that night and made a stand in front of the enemy. "The 80th Division with one regiment of the 81st Division attached, encircled the enemy at Sinhung-ni and Neidongjik [the Inlet area east of Chosin] and destroyed part of them. "During the daytime of the 28th, the enemy, to break being cut up and encircled and to link up with one another, began successive and continuous attacks on us. The enemy at Hagaru-ri and Yudam-ni attacked our 59th Division's Sayong [Toktong] Pass and Sohung-ni positions from the east and west. The enemy at Sasu-ri and Hubuk-ni [Hudong-ni with Tank Co/31 Inf] attacked our 80th Division's Sintae-ni [Hill 1221] positions from the south and the enemy at Koto-ri attacked our 60th Division's positions on Chomintae-ni and Pusong-ni [between Koto and Hagaru]. Our 9th Army Group organized resistance against the enemy's continuous attacks and adjusted plans, preparing to continue the destruction of the encircled enemy. "On the night of the 28th, our 27th Army's 80th Division continued attacking the enemy at Sinhung-ni and Neidongjik. Heavy fighting lasted until dawn on the 29th and the Neidongjik enemy [1/32 Inf] fled to Sinhung-ni, leaving behind over 300 bodies and four howitzers. [There were no howitzers in the 1/32 area, although there were 4.2 mortars.] We penetrated Sinhung-ni for a time and killed or wounded a part of the enemy.  Afterward, because our troops weren't enough and there were a pretty high number of frostbite casualties, we took it on our own to retire from the fight and prepare to continue the attack when we were ready. "Our 20th Army's 58th Division on the night of the 28th continued to attack the Hagaru-ri enemy and destroyed over 800 enemy in heavy fighting. The mountains east of Hagaru-ri [East Hill] were completely under our control. The 89th Division's attack on Sachang-ni was blocked. [by 1/7 Inf, 3d Div]

"We took a close look at the enemy after two consecutive days of combat. The Yudam-ni enemy were the U.S. 1st Marine Division's 7th Regiment and 5th Regiment (less one battalion) and two battalions of the 11th Artillery Regiment. "The Sinhung-ni enemy were the U.S. 7th Division's 32d Regiment and the 31st Regiment's 3d Battalion, along with a battalion of division artillery. [Chinese had the unit designations switched as they were were RCT 31 made up of 31st Regiment (minus) and the 32d Regiment's 1st Battalion attached] "The Hagaru-ri enemy were the 1st Marine Division Headquarters, one battalion of the 5th Regiment and also one tank battalion. [Actually 1st Bn, 1st Marines, reinforced, and not many tanks at this time.] "The Sachang-ni enemy was the U.S. 3d Division's 7th Regiment. "Prior to our preparations to mass our troops to attack the enemy at Sinhung-ni, the enemy in the Hagaru-ri and Koto-ri areas opened line of communication and on the 29th, separately made heavy attacks on our 58th and 60th Divisions' positions. The Hagaru-ri enemy at dawn that day attacked our Hill 1071.1 [East Hill], near their southeast corner. "That morning [29 Nov] the Koto-ri enemy launched four consecutive attacks on Pusong-ni and Ch'omint'ae-ni line positions held by our 60th Division. They were repulsed by us. In the afternoon, the enemy mustered [Task Force Drysdale] one battalion of the 1st Marine Division's 1st Regiment, one tank battalion and the British Marines 41st Commando, over 1,000 men and more than 100 tanks and motor vehicles in the Nampohuchang and Chinhung-ni areas south of Koto-ri and under the cover of over 50 aircraft, again attacked our Pusong-ni and Chomintae-ni line positions. Our 60th Division stubbornly resisted and after repulsing many enemy attacks, made a determined counterattack against the enemy at dusk. Heavy fighting lasted until 0600 hours on the 30th. Most of the enemy was annihilated, except for some who fled. While the Koto-ri enemy was attacking us, at 1400 hours on the 29th, the Yudam-ni enemy attacked our forces' positions north of him. Over 100 paratroops jumped to join in. All were but to fight. [the "paratroops" could well have been a resupply air drop at Yudam] "

Why weren't they successful? The Chinese had an ideal situation in which they could cut, divide and destroy the American elements all the way back to the Funchilin Pass, but they made mistakes from the beginning. Their timing was off, they admit that, while they failed to allow the 5th Marines to continue their attack westward from Yudam, drawing them deep into those mountain switchbacks, and then cut them into smaller pieces; just as the Finns had cut the Russians in Nov-Dec 1939 where they annihilated two Soviet divisions using their motti tactics. Their next mistake was not taking Toktong Pass early in the game (as they did Hill 1221 east of Chosin), and then use that terrain to block the withdrawal of the 5th and 7th Marines, rather than dissipating their strength (and ammo) in head-on attacks against the defending firepower around Yudam-ni. These are but a few examples.

Who won? American and British units were fortunate to have the heavy firepower of artillery and tactical air support, and airlift to keep themselves armed and fit to fight, while the Chinese suffered conditions which are well described by Roy Appleman in his book ESCAPING THE TRAP. "The Chinese soldiers were not nearly as well prepared to withstand the subzero temperatures as were the Americans. The latter had relatively good winter clothing and protection for hand, feet, and body that the Chinese soldier did not have. And whereas the X Corp troops had ample food most of the time, the Chinese did not-they starved, they were weak from loss of strength, and they developed crippling stomach ailments. The Chinese soldiers did not receive a single known resupply of food or ammunition in the Chosin campaign after they cross the border and headed south toward the Chosin Reservoir. Their medical facilities were either primitive or nonexistent in the Chosin fighting. Relatively few received immediate battlefield treatment for critical wounds, there was only slow evacuation (when there was any) to hospitals in China. And most of the frostbite cases received no treatment at all." No one won. It was Father Winter who defined the battlefield and made up the rules of the game as the temperature went down and up the Celsius scale.  




This is the fourth issue of "The Changjin Journal" which is designed to both 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.
Col. George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Vice Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee

Studying the Chosin battles for the past dozen years has been most interesting, learning through these studies that most historians have been following the same track, one borrowing from the other. The story seems to be: the 7th Marines went to Yudam and the 5th was briefly east of the reservoir where they were suddenly relieved by an Army outfit first called Task Force MacLean which later became Task Force Faith. The enemy then attacked the 5th and 7th at Yudam with two divisions, while one division attacked and destroyed Task Force Faith, after which the Yudam force arrived at Hagaru and then everyone marched to the sea at Hungnam. This may sound simplistic, but if one brushes aside non-essentials of any major battle, be it Leningrad or the Bulge or Chosin, they will end up with basics. We are presenting here a new theory which is based on studying the battle from the viewpoint of the enemy commander, not on how we think it happened or wish that it had.  In doing this, one studies not only the forces he has available, but also his mission, objectives to accomplished that mission, as well as the terrain. Think different.

The theory that the enemy attacked the 5th Marines east of Chosin began during the 1990 Las Vegas reunion when Lt. Gen. Al Bowser and I did our west-and-east of Chosin presentation. I have long believed, as did Major Carl Witte, the RCT S-2 at Hudong-ni, that the force opposing RCT 31 was far more than one CCF division; we just didn't have the specific unit designations at the time. It wasn't until Pat Roe and Merrill Needham received translations of Chinese publications when we began putting the numbers 80, 81 and 94 on the map. But that's not the point, yet. It's very easy for us in this high tech age to lose sight of the rather crude commo system we had fifty years ago. For the Chinese, it was even more basic: messengers were used at lower levels of command. Chinese history reports this important fact. The enemy did not have the capability to make rapid changes in their tactical plans due to the poor communications system; it would take up to three days to make a major change necessary because of new information about their enemy. The lead battalion (3/5) of the 5th Marines arrived east of Chosin on November 24 and assumed the forward (north) position, other battalions closed behind them.

Significant are the dates, for they arrived more than three full days before the first CCF assault the night of November 27-28. When the 5th Marines arrived and occupied their positions we can rest assured that the Chinese scouts, their recon elements, were on those mountain tops observing every move and reporting the size and location of enemy units. But how did they report? A runner to company to battalion and to regiment where the one radio may have the capability of communicating with a few radios at division; that is, if they were operable in the cold weather. These recon reports therefore provided the basis for the enemy attack plan. The Chinese at the time, based on translation of their documents,  did not have the capability of making rapid changes in their plans when they saw the forward battalions of the 5th Marines withdrawing the morning of November 27 and the lead elements of RCT 31 arriving in the afternoon and evening. The scouts probably ran back and reported mass confusion. The Chinese plan committed two divisions in the Yudam area and two divisions against the 5th Marines east of the Reservoir. Other CCF divisions were to maneuver deeper to cut the MSR and further positioning themselves for the next phase of the plan. The Chinese attack units were but eight miles from their objectives when they began movement shortly after dark, and before midnight on November 27 launched their attack on the 5th Marines east of the Reservoir - but the Marines weren't there.

Many of their key objectives which were supposed to be occupied by Marine companies were not, especially an important objective known as Hill 1221 located halfway between the Inlet and Hagaru. We have also learned from Chinese documents that the attack was originally scheduled for the night of November 26, the day before, but was postponed because they were not ready. Those who were with the 5th Marines can visualize, based on attacks against RCT 31, where the main attacks would have tracked had the attack taken place November 26. (On the evening of November 26 the 2/5 Marines had just arrived at Yudam preparing for their attack west the next morning, while 1/23 Infantry was south of Hill 1221 waiting arrival of the main body of RCT 31. Keep in mind also that the attack against Yudam was not a complete surprise. The 2/5 Marines launched their attack westward the morning of November 27 and had been stopped abruptly by a strong Chinese force.) For the attack east of Chosin on the night of November 27, the Chinese initially committed the 80th CCF Division and one regiment of the 81st CCF Division; after which they reinforced with the remainder of the 81st CCF Division and held one regiment of the 94th CCF Division in reserve for that sector. This leaves no question as to his main effort;  his objective was Hagaru which would put the 7th Marines in a box west of the Toktong Pass where he would annihilate them. During the history seminar at the Jacksonville reunion we had planned a summary during which the maps would be turned abound so we could look at the battle of Chosin from an enemy point of view, looking from north to south. Since we ran out of time, and since I'm running out of space in this journal issue, may I suggest that you turn your map around and assume the thought process of the CCF commander. Ask yourself how you would accomplish your mission of destroying the enemy: What are the UN force dispositions on November 25? What are the key objectives to accomplish my mission? And finally, what axis of advance should I use for my main effort?  From this point our analysis should proceed to the question "Why didn't the Chinese succeed?" A short answer must be related to timing and lack of up-to-date intelligence on his enemy. They committed their secondary effort against what became the firepower of two Marine regiments at Yudam, while their main effort found themselves being worn down by a weapon not expected against their mass assaults, the antiaircraft Dual-40s and Quad-50s of RCT 31 east of the reservoir.

We invite you to share your thoughts and send them to the Changjin Journal at <> - - - THINK DIFFERENT  



This is the third issue of "The Changjin Journal" which is designed to both 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.

Here is an opportunity for veterans to take part in one of the early Korean War 50th Anniversary activities, a symposium-conference which involves a look at not only the war, but the Chinese and Soviet politics related to that war. We realize that Y2000 is full of many commemoration activities, from task Force Smith to the final evacuation from Hungnam on December 24. If your time and resources permit, and especially if you live near the Big Apple, this activity should be considered. If you have something to say after attending, please send your comments to <>

From: jim kennedy <> Subject: New York Military Affairs Symposium-Conference on the Korean War-2/18-19/2000

Gentlemen, I am sending this email to you concerning our upcoming conference on the Korean War on February 18-19,2000 in New York City. This event will be the first in several year long effort to explore the ramifications and experience of the Korean War from as wide a variety of perspectives as possible. NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE KOREAN WAR Friday, February 18-7:00 P.M THE US ARMY IN THE 1950's James F. Dunnigan, NYMAS and noted military historian Saturday, February 19-9:00 A.M-5:00 P.M THE KOREAN WAR:NEW PERSPECTIVES FROM THE OTHER SIDE STALIN'S DECISION TO LAUNCH THE KOREAN WAR: NEW EVIDENCE FROM THE RUSSIAN ARCHIVES Dr.Alexandre Mansourov, Brookings Institution BEIJING'S MILITARY CALCULATIONS DURING THE KOREAN WAR Prof.Shu Zhang, University of Maryland THE KOREAN PEOPLE'S ARMY Joseph Bermudez, military historian The Conference will be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, 34th Street and Fifth Avenue in mid-town Manhattan. All NYMAS events are free and open to the public. The entire NYMAS spring schedule is posted  at our website I should note that the contribution and participation of veterans is especially appreciated and valued. We are planning future symposia and talks for the summer and fall of 2000 and welcome any input or suggestions. We are also talking with the New York Historical Society about mounting public programs on the Korean War and we especially hold as critical to all these endeavors the participation of men who were there. We would appreciate if you have any email lists or newsletters you let people know what we are doing here in the Big Apple. NYMAS has existed for over twenty years and has been involved in holding a wide ranging series of talks on military and international affairs on a weekly basis at City University of New York Graduate Center, Columbia University and New York University. We are affiliated with the Society of Military History, the scholarly military history organization in the United States http:/ Jim Dingeman

* * * Courtesy the Changjin Journal Colonel George A. Rasula, USA (Ret) 864-654-3911 @ Clemson, SC    



This is the second issue of "The Changjin Journal" which is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Since this is being published for dissemination through the internet, we will try to limit each issue to no more than two pages. Issues will be identified by month/day/year, such as "01.20.00". Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history.
Col. George A. Rasula, USA-Ret., Vice Chair, Chosin Few Historical Committee

In our first issue we reported finding it difficult to learn exactly where the 50th AAA/AW Bn was located. Since then we have had input which may shed more light on the subject. Do you suppose that in the oral exchanges of information "fifteen" came out, at times, sounding like "fifty"?   Just a thought. -Bob Rosen

This certainly has merit. The other day I had a telecom with a friend about this subject when half way through the conversation I learned he was talking about the 15th while I was talking about the 50th.-GR

Read with interest your latest essay. In his book "America's Tenth Legion", Shelby Stanton mentions the 50th AAW Bn. as part of the 5th F.A Group of the X Corps. The other corps artillery units were the 92nd and the 96th F.A. Bns.-George Pakkala

Thanks to George P., we found the 50th in: Appendix II, p.331, to America's Tenth Legion by Shelbey Stanton: 1 field artillery group (5th) with 2 separate field artillery battalions (92d, 96th);  and 1 separate antiaircraft artillery battalion (50th). That led us to check the official Army History, Ebb and Flow, by Mossman. Screening the index we did not find the 5th AAA listed, although did find the 3d AAA and 15th AAA.-GR I have spent some time going over the comments in your message. To me they are are very well researched and written. (Also like your opening paragraph and have no suggestions) I think you have used the best references available (Blair, especially  Appleman, Cowart and Montross, of course). The best possible reference would be Shelby Stanton's unpublished "Korean War Order of Battle".-Norm Zehr

The other day on a TV show about Chosin I heard a man say "the wind chill was one-hundred below zero." Hearing that after having experienced the Chosin Chosin weather, I wondered why our cold weather injury statistics didn't reflect that fact. One hundred below freezes exposed flesh in seconds. Cold is a state of mind. At a reunion when I heard one veteran say it was forty below, I asked him where he was from. He replied "Los Angeles, and I'd never seen it below freezing in my life." Another when describing his experience of being captured at Chosin and marching for days on end to prison camp said, "I attribute my survival to the cold weather training we had in Hokkaido the previous winter." Cold is a state of mind. A few winters ago when I heard in northern Minnesota they broke another record, seventy below zero Fahrenheit, I thought that would have been a real chilly one had there been any wind. But having grown up and living there the first seventeen winters of my life, I recalled the coldest cold being that of still air, being so quiet that one could hear the lake ice crack many miles away. Another response reads

"The cold in Korea was an order of magnitude more brutal than Italy. I found the cold and the wind mind boggling. I do believe the conditions endured by the troops were the worst through which any American troops have ever suffered I remember some Marines just south of Hagaru ri were throwing pieces of a house into a fire. A teen age Korean kid was standing in the circle with them in the student cap and blue jacket that was standard attire for school boys. It was late afternoon and I doubt he would have survived the night. I don't think a winter campaign is practical under those conditions." LTG Bill McCaffrey Cold is a state of mind. For the soldier, it's a matter of training which causes him to respect the weather and learn how to live in its extremes. Those who also experienced the opposite end of the spectrum in tropical combat, such as the South Pacific with days of both temperature and humidity in the nineties, realize that training as well as leadership and supervision are essential to maintaining the combat capabilities of any military unit, capabilities which begin and end with the individual soldier. Let us not lose sight of the fact that cold affects the enemy just as much as it does us, the only difference being the state of mind of each individual. That Korean kid probably did survive the night because he was brought up in that climate and knew where to go and what to do. Once again-training. Although winter military campaigns under those conditions are far from practical, they are necessary at times as they were at Chosin, as well as the Nov-Dec 1939 battle the Finns had against the Soviet invaders, only the Finns were far more prepared because it was on their turf. In the battle of Suomusalmi the Finns annihilated two Russian divisions. At Chosin the Chinese tried similar tactics of encirclement but were not successful. Why? We will cover that in a future issue of the changjinjournal.-GAR  


This is our first issue of "The Changjin Journal" which is designed to both disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Since this is being published for dissemination through the internet, we will try to limit each issue to no more than two pages. Issues will be identified by month/day/year, such as "01.11.00". Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history. Chosin Few chapters may publish these articles verbatim in your newsletters; please credit <>. If you wish to be put on, or taken off, the distribution list, please send your request with full name, military unit and email address. Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret Vice Chair, CF Historical Committee * * *

TRIPLE "A" UNITS Bob Matis seems to be having an interesting email exchange with Howard Mason regarding disposition and activities by AAA (AW) units during the Chosin campaign. Matis is from the 50th AAA/AW Bn, a non-divisional separate unit of Tenth Corps, a battalion hard to locate if you check current history books. Checking the indexes of Blair, Appleman and Cowart, we do not find the 50th AAA, but only the 15th AAA which was a 7th Div unit and the 3d AAA which was a 3d Div unit. The 1st MarDiv did not have an organic AAA unit. Until the Korean War began such units were usually positioned to provide air defense for artillery units and key installations, command/control and logistics. It was at Chosin with D/15th AAA  east of the reservoir attached to RCT 31 when we learned that the quad fifties and dual forties were the ideal scythe to mow down the attacking "hordes" of Chinese. From then on they played an important close support role to the end of the war. I first looked at Task Force Dog of the 3d Div which relieved the 1/1 Marines at Chinhung-ni. There we find two sections of C Battery, 3d AAA (AW) Bn. As you may recall other 3d Div battalions were strung out from there to the Hungnam perimeter, so other AAA units were obviously interspersed along the MSR supporting those battalions. I had always known that a AAA element supported the 1/1 Marines during their attack north from Chinhung-ni toward Hill 1081 on 8 December.The only indication of element of the 50th AAA are found in Appleman's Escaping the Trap, where on p.290 he describes the Marine battalion's placement for fires, stating "he also places five Army self-propelled quad-50 and dual-40 carriers on a rise to the left of the road. From there these weapons covered the road as it climbed upward under towering Hill 1081 as far as the destroyed bridge over the penstocks at the cliff like fact of the mountain."

Since Appleman didn't mention which Army AAA unit supported the Marines, and since he did mention the unit designation of the units with TF Dog, we would be inclined to assume that it was probably elements of the 50th AAA Bn. However, further on p.317 we read "TF Dog began its preparations to leave Chinhung-ni when the last vehicle of the Marine rear guard, an Army quad-50 (M16) of the 15th AAA Bn of the 7th Inf Div, cleared the town at 2 p.m. on 11 December." Now that Appleman has identified 7th Div tracks with 1/1 Marines, and not 50th AAA as we could have assumed, also since we know that D/15th AAA east of Chosin with 57th FA was short one platoon, should we then assume that it was the D/15th platoon that was with 1/1 Marines? This is a reasonable assumption [for the moment] since the other 15th AAA batteries were most likely with the 17th and 32d Infantry Regiments. However, let's search further by asking Pat Roe to see what tracks the official history by Montross identified with 1/1 Marines.

And here comes another surprise. Pat sent an extract from Montross which reads: "The battalion commander prepared for the nest phase by bringing up 81mm mortars and an attached platoon of 4.2s and emplacing those weapons in Wray's position.  He also directed that the five attached Army self-propelled quad-.50 caliber and twin 40mm guns of B Company 50th AAA (AW) Bn be moved to a little rise off to the left of the road in the vicinity of the village of Pehujang [Pohujang].  From this position they covered the MSR as far as the bridge over the penstocks."

NEW RCT 31 COMMANDER Did you know that following the loss of Col. MacLean on Nov 29, his replacement was being appointed and the new 31st Infantry HQ was being formed at Hamhung? Even though Lt. Col. Berry K. Anderson was the "senior officer present" at Hagaru after departure of Brig.Gen. Hodes, the new regimental commander had already being designated. He was Col. John A. Gavin who held command until March 12 when he was replaced by  the X Corp Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Col. William J. McCaffrey [senior member of the Army Chapter]. By the seventh month in Korea, the 31st Infantry Regiment had four commanders - Ovenshine, MacLean, Gavin and McCaffrey.      

End notes:

  • Comments and brief essays are invited. Since this is being published for dissemination through the internet, we will try to limit each issue to no more than two pages. Issues will be identified by month/day/year, such as "01.11.00".

  • Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history.

  • Chosin Few chapters may publish these articles verbatim in your newsletters; please credit <>.

  • If you wish to be put on, or taken off, the distribution list, please send your request with full name, military unit and email address.

    Colonel George A. Rasula
    Vice Chair, CF Historical Committee
    * * *


Click here for a larger image
Colonel George A. Rasula, USA, 1950
This photo of me shows what we were wearing during the move from the Fusen Reservoir to the Chosin Reservoir; this taken just north of Hamhung. Roads were very narrow which didn't allow two way traffic in most places - one convoy waiting for another to go by. A long trip, about 140 miles by road. When we left the Fusen Reservoir it was already 15 below zero F., warmer here along the coast, then colder up at the Chosin Reservoir, sub-zero most every day. Date: 26 Nov 50.


You can use Ctrl-F to search for words within this page.


One-click Table of Contents
ScheduleAll-day ConferenceFulltext resourcesNewsOn the WebLinks to Military HistoryMission Statement - Join NYMASFeedback

Return to the New York Military Affairs Symposium start page