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Honor and Fidelity The 65th Infantry in Korea

Honor and Fidelity The 65th Infantry in Korea

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The loss of Outpost Kelly brought General Dulaney, the 3d Infantry
Division commander, and Lt. Gen. Paul W. Kendall, the new I Corps com-
mander, to the regimental command post on the morning of 19 September.
The generals returned later that afternoon, accompanied by the Eighth

46

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 477, 482–83, 19 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf,

Sep 52.

47

Ltr, Wolf to author, 7 Jul 00.

48

Ltr, Col Carlos Betances-Ramirez to author, 4 Jul 00, Historians files.

49

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 477, 482, and 483, 19 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt,

65th Inf, Sep 52.

50

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 501, 19 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

51

Unit Rpt no. 707, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

Defeat at Outpost Kelly

223

Army commander, General Van Fleet.52

As a result of the high-level inter-
est in retaking Kelly, Colonel Cordero-Davila ordered his staff to prepare
a plan for a counterattack to retake the outpost. During the late evening

of 19 September, almost twenty-four hours after Nelson’s company had
been overrun, Cordero-Davila fnally ordered the 1st Battalion to retake

the lost outpost.53

By then, the intelligence section estimated, a reinforced

Chinese rife company equipped with light machine guns and four 60-mm.

mortars had dug in at Kelly.54

While Major Davies was getting his troops
ready, Cordero-Davila directed Colonel Betances-Ramirez to probe the hill
with a platoon from Company E to determine the strength of enemy forces
at Kelly. The remainder of the company was to be prepared to follow up
rapidly if the probe revealed that the Chinese had abandoned the outpost or
held it only lightly.55

Believing that a single platoon would prove inadequate for the task,
Betances-Ramirez ordered two platoons from Company E to carry out the

mission. At 0520 on 20 September, the men from Company E set out to
investigate Kelly. One rife platoon, designated the A element, jumped off

from Outpost Tessie. A second platoon, the B element, departed from the
main line of resistance.56
Less than an hour later, the commander of Company E and the leader

of the B element, 1st Lt. Harrold L. Gensemer, got into a brief frefght near

the base of the hill and then stormed into the trenches of Outpost Kelly at
the head of his platoon.57

The unit’s approach had been masked by heavy
fog, allowing it to get in close before the Chinese could react effectively.
The absence of the customary American artillery preparation prior to the

assault added to the element of surprise. However, the A element did not

arrive in time to support its sister platoon. It was still slowly working its
way along a narrow trail when the Chinese responded to Gensemer’s unex-
pected appearance by sweeping the hillside with heavy artillery, mortar,
and automatic weapons. Soon, casualties began to mount in both platoons
from Company E.

Unable to maintain his foothold, Gensemer ordered his men to with-

draw. At 0800, dragging their wounded along, both platoons returned to

their original starting points.58

An artillery forward observer accompany-
ing one of the platoons reported that the Chinese had at least one hundred

52

Entries dtd 191045, 191625 Sep 52, Opns Jnl, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

53

Section II, Narr of Opns, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

54

Ann. 2 (Intelligence) to Opns Order no. 16.

55

Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

56

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 0520, 20 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

57

Regimental Opns Jnl, Entry dtd 0618, 20 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

58

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 0800, 20 Sep 52.

Honor and Fidelity

224

men manning the outpost.59

He called for an air strike, but the mission was

canceled when other observers reported that friendly wounded were lying
exposed on the hillside.60
Nine hours later, Company E launched a second effort against the out-
post with all three rife platoons and its heavy weapons platoon. Air strikes
and direct fre from the regimental tank company supported the assault. The
latter unit drew intense return fre from the enemy that resulted in one tank

being disabled by a mortar shell.61

By 1830, the bulk of the attacking force

was pinned down by a torrent of Chinese automatic weapons; but one pla-

toon pressed forward to the outpost’s communications trench. Thirty-fve

minutes later, the southern peak of Kelly was reported in friendly hands.62

59

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 560 and 561, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

60

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 0930, 21 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

61

Regimental Opns Jnl, Entry dtd 1620, 20 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

62

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 589, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

Soldiers fom the 65th Infantry carry a wounded comrade back to fiendly
lines during the fghting at Outpost Kelly.

Defeat at Outpost Kelly

225

By 2000, however, heavy enemy fre forced the platoon to relinquish its

gains.63

Lieutenant Gensemer ordered his men to pull back. His company
had 1 killed, 10 wounded, and 16 missing.64
As Company E withdrew, the 1st Battalion was making its fnal
preparations to attack Outpost Kelly. At 2015, Company A, commanded
by Lieutenant Streett, passed through the 2d Battalion along the main
line of resistance and headed for Kelly.65

Lieutenant Streett, who back
in July had made a heroic effort to save his company commander,
Lieutenant Wood, during the action near Ch’okko-ri, was a 1949 West

Point graduate and had served with the 511th Airborne Infantry at

Fort Campbell prior to coming to Korea.66

When Streett’s last platoon
cleared the main line of resistance at 2115, Company C, commanded
by Lieutenant Stevens, fell in behind Company A.67

One platoon from
Company B was positioned on Tessie and Nick to provide additional
support to the assault.

At 2105 on 20 September, almost two days after the outpost fell, the two

companies from the 1st Battalion began their assault to recapture Kelly.68

Company A was hit by Chinese mortar and artillery fre as it advanced

toward the hill. Lieutenant Streett noticed that many of his soldiers had

fallen out of the main attack formation and were straggling behind. He
also noticed that airburst artillery rounds fred by the Chinese were sowing

panic among some of his men. Streett decided to fall back and reorganize.69
Incoming fre directed against Nick and Tessie also forced the platoon from
Company B to withdraw.70
While Company A regrouped, two understrength platoons from
Company C got to within a few hundred feet of Outpost Kelly. At 0100,
Major Davies ordered the remainder of Company B to move forward to the
main line of resistance and await further orders. As the unit began advanc-

ing, it was hit by mortar fre that killed 4, wounded 16, and scattered all

but 26 men.71

Soon afterward, Davies directed the remnants of Company B
to return to the battalion assembly area with their casualties.72

After hastily

63

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 2000, 20 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

64

2d Bn Staff Jnl, 20 Sep 52.

65

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 592, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

66

Register of Graduates and Former Cadets, 1802–1980, p. 517.

67

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 594, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

68

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 2110, 20 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

69

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 2320, 20 Sep 52.

70

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 596–97, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

71

1st Bn Staff Jnl, Entry 2, 202400 to 212400 Sep 52; 2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 0310,

21 Sep 52; both in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

72

1st Bn Staff Jnl, Entry 4, 202400 to 212400 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf,

Sep 52.

Honor and Fidelity

226

reorganizing one of its platoons, Company B succeeded in reoccupying

Nick and Tessie before daylight.73

After U.S. artillery batteries spent the night shelling Outpost Kelly,

Companies A and C renewed their assault at 0440 on 21 September.74

The

defenders responded with intense artillery, mortar, and small-arms fre.

Company C reached a communications trench at the base of the outpost,
where it engaged the Chinese in a grenade battle for thirty minutes before
the enemy was forced to retreat.75

Emboldened by success, the lead pla-
toon of Company C continued its advance, reaching the southern crest of
Outpost Kelly at 1130. Heavy mortar fre forced it to return to the com-
munications trench.76

Mounting losses, which hampered the ability of both
company commanders to sustain the assault, prompted Major Davies to

73

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 609 and 610, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

74

2d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry dtd 0440, 21 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

75

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entries 632–34, 21 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

76

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 642, 21 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

A howitzer of the 39th Field Artillery Batalion fres in support of the 65th
Infantry’s counteratack to regain Outpost Kelly.

Defeat at Outpost Kelly

227

order a complete withdrawal.77
The 1st Battalion was back in its
preattack positions by late after-
noon. The failed attempt to regain
the outpost had cost the unit forty-
four casualties.78
Colonel Cordero-Davila was not
yet prepared to concede defeat. Early
on the morning of 22 September,
Companies A, C, and D relieved
Companies K, L, and M on the right
wing of the regimental sector. The
bulk of the 3d Battalion then moved
to an assembly area behind the main
line of resistance and prepared to
assault the hill. Company I remained
in place for a further twenty-four
hours before it was relieved by
Company B.79

Organizing the mis-
sion was a new battalion commander,
Lt. Col. Lloyd E. Wills, who had
replaced Colonel Gendron two days earlier.
Wills had enlisted in the Army prior to World War II and had volun-

teered for the paratroopers after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He jumped
into Normandy on D-Day as a master sergeant with the 101st Airborne

Division. In recognition of his superior duty performance, Wills received a
battlefeld commission in late August 1944. Four months later, he was reas-
signed from regimental staff to become the chief operations offcer for the
3d Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He served in that posi-
tion throughout the siege of Bastogne until the end of the war.
Following World War II, 39-year-old Wills remained in the Army,

attending the Infantry Advanced Offcer’s Course and the Command and

General Staff College between various assignments that included com-
mand of three infantry companies.80

Given his impressive combat record

77

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 650, 21 Sep 52.

78

The regiment recorded seventy-one battle casualties; however, many of them were
late entries from Company E. The four Company B soldiers killed by mortar fire are listed

by name. Unit Rpt no. 709, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

79

3d Bn Staff Jnl, Entries 3–7, 22 Sep 52, and 4, 23 Sep 52, all in Monthly Cmd Rpt,

65th Inf, Sep 52.

80

Official Army Register; Volume I, United States Army Active and Retired Lists, 1
January 1953 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1953), p. 812; DA Form

Colonel Wills

Honor and Fidelity

228

and postwar accomplishments, it would appear that Wills went to the 65th
to make up for the regiment’s lack of experienced senior leaders.
As the 3d Battalion drew up plans to recapture Kelly, the problems
encountered by the 65th in retaking the outpost had attracted the attention

of the corps and division commanders. The frst in a succession of visitors,

General Dulaney had arrived at the regimental command post on the after-
noon of 22 September. The following morning, he appeared again, accompa-
nied by General Kendall. The corps commander informed Cordero-Davila
that any plan to recapture Outpost Kelly had to include provision for the

immediate supply of barbed wire, entrenching tools, and other fortifcation
materials to ensure adequate defense against counterattack. He also wanted

Cordero-Davila to make sure that each man on that hill understood what to

do and where to go. Proper execution, Kendall emphasized, would ensure

an adequate defense against enemy counterattacks.81
Kendall’s pointed talk with Cordero-Davila suggested that the I Corps
commander felt that the 65th Infantry’s leader had not taken enough per-
sonal interest in the effort to ensure its success. Kendall’s visit may have
also encouraged Cordero-Davila to seek extra resources from General
Dulaney. Shortly after Kendall departed, indeed, a tank company from the
64th Heavy Tank Battalion arrived to provide direct fre support to the regi-
ment. The 65th also received an additional 4.2-inch mortar platoon from
the 15th Infantry.

Having prepared for over thirty-six hours, the 3d Battalion fnally

launched its assault on Outpost Kelly early on the morning of 24 September.
The assault was observed by a number of senior visitors, including General
Dulaney and Brig. Gen. Charles L. Dasher, the 3d Division assistant com-
mander.82

A thirty-minute artillery concentration, supported by direct fre

from the regiment’s own tank company and from howitzers of the 58th
Field Artillery Battalion, preceded the attack. Capt. William C. English’s
Company K and 1st Lt. Frederick Bogell’s Company L moved forward
abreast while Company I, under 1st Lt. Ben W. Alpuerto, remained in
reserve. Accompanied by two platoons of M46 tanks, the leading compa-

nies crossed the line of departure at 0555.83

66, Ofcr Qualification Rcd, n.d., sub: Wills, Lloyd Earl—032060, Military Rcds Br,
NPRC.

81

Regimental Opns Jnl, Entries 221500 Sep 52 and 231000 Sep 52, both in Monthly

Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

82

Dasher later moved forward to Company F’s observation post to observe the assault.

Regimental Opns Jnl, Entry dtd 240550 Sep 52, in Monthly Command Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep

52.

83

Regimental Intel Jnl, Entry 788, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52; 64th Tank

Bn, Monthly Cmd Rpt, Sep 52.

Defeat at Outpost Kelly

229

As Company K approached Outpost Kelly from the east, the Chinese
pinned down its leading platoons with small-arms, machine-gun, artillery,

and mortar fre. With casualties mounting, confusion broke out within the
unit. At 0700, Captain English asked for permission to pull back and reor-
ganize but got a negative reply. Shortly thereafter, at 0720, the battalion

lost radio contact with the unit.84
Lieutenant Bogell’s men meanwhile succeeded in reaching high
ground overlooking the outpost, but the Chinese defenders pinned them
down. Moments later, an enemy mine blew a track off one of the sup-
porting tanks. Another M46 bogged down trying to recover the disabled
vehicle. Efforts to retrieve both M46s proved successful, although Chinese

mortar fre killed one man and wounded seven.85

Unable to contact Company K, Colonel Cordero-Davila directed
Colonel Wills to commit his battalion reserve. Wills ordered Alpuerto’s
Company I to move forward to assume Company K’s mission.86

As
Lieutenant Alpuerto maneuvered his force toward Kelly, enemy artillery
zeroed in on his company, fracturing it with several direct hits. The men
of Company I began to scatter and to drift back to the regiment’s main
line. Losing contact with Lieutenant Alpuerto after the enemy artillery

strike, Colonel Wills dispatched his battalion operations offcer, Capt.
Paul O. Engle, to assist Company I. Wills then began to gather up and
reorganize stragglers on the battlefeld to restore the momentum of the

attack.87

In the meantime, two squads of Company L clung precariously to a
trench on the south slope of Outpost Kelly, pinned down by Chinese artillery,

mortar, and automatic-weapons fre. Their commander, Lieutenant Bogell,

repeatedly sought permission to withdraw; but Cordero-Davila ordered
him to hold at all costs.88

The only troops available to reinforce Bogell at
this point were two reorganized squads from Company I. While Cordero-
Davila prepared to commit them, Colonel Wills telephoned General Dasher

to inform him of the situation. Having seen extensive combat in World

War II, Wills disagreed with his less-experienced regimental commander’s
decision to send two platoons to seize an objective that three companies

had failed to secure. Persuaded by Wills’ argument, Dasher bypassed the

regimental chain of command and authorized Wills to cease the attack and
to continue the reorganization of his unit.89

84

3d Bn Staff Jnl, Entries 12–13, 24 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

85

Monthly Cmd Rpt, 64th Tank Bn, Sep 52.

86

3d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry 16, 24 Sep 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

87

3d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry 18, 24 Sep 52; Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front, p. 302.

88

3d Bn Staff Jnl, Entry 22, 24 Sep 52.

89

Ibid., Entry 27, 24 Sep 52.

Honor and Fidelity

230

At 1130, what was left of the force on the slope below the crest of

Outpost Kelly began to withdraw.90

“The disintegration of companies ‘K’
and ‘I’ was not gradual or orderly,” a command report would later note. The

executive offcer of the 3d Division artillery, Col. Thomas J. Counihan,
added that he had personally witnessed “men in full fight . . . without

helmets, weapons, or even shirts.”91

In the meantime, General Dulaney

himself encountered thirty to ffty stragglers in a similar state of undress

moving along what was known as the new road, a recently constructed trail
to the northeast of the 65th Infantry’s main line.92

The 3d Battalion returned
to its original positions by 1745 on 24 September. It had suffered 141 battle
casualties during the attack.93

At 1500 the following day, the 3d Division

suspended all operations by the regiment against Kelly.94

90

Opns Narr, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

91

Reorganization of the 3d Inf Div, HQ, 3d Inf Div, 8 Nov 52, in Monthly Cmd Rpt,

3d Inf Div, Nov 52.

92

Ibid.

93

Unit Rpt no. 712, in Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

94

Monthly Cmd Rpt, 65th Inf, Sep 52.

Exhausted men of the 65th Infantry take time out before returning to the
batle for Outpost Kelly.

Defeat at Outpost Kelly

231

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