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ARMY HISTORICAL SERIES

COMBAT ACTIONS IN KOREA
Russell A. Gugeler

CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY UNITED STATES ARMY WASHINGTON, D.C., 1987

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 70-603408

First Printed 1954–CMH Pub 30-2
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402

Foreword
* This book was originally published in 1954, revised in 1970, and in demand and print since then. The accounts of small-unit actions were written primarily for junior officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates of the United States Army who had not yet been in battle. The object was to acquaint them with the realities of their own fields. Since the Korean War, some of the tools and procedures of battle have changed, but the basic conditions of combat have not. Indeed, the surprises, confusion, and problems faced on one battlefield generally resemble the difficulties met on another. Accounts of battle experience at other times in other places, then, continue to have instructive value. It is with this fact in mind that this book is being reprinted. One of the accounts contained in the original version was omitted after a review of the source material on which it was based revealed several irreconcilable errors. All of the other episodes appearing in the 1970 revised edition continue to appear in their original form. Those who absorb the lessons they offer can substantially increase their competence as leaders and members of small units in battle, and all students of military history should find profit in these intimate and objective stories of combat action. The Center of Military History is pleased to continue this popular work. Washington, D.C. 20 July 1984 DOUGLAS KINNARD Brigadier General, USA (Ret.) Chief of Military History

* This book is a collection of accounts describing the combat action of small Army units–squads and platoons, companies and batteries. These are the units that engage in combat, suffer the casualties, and make up the fighting strength of the battalions, regiments, divisions, corps, and finally, of the field army. Combat is a very personal business to members of such a small unit. Concerned with the fearful and consuming tasks of fighting and living, these men cannot think of war in terms of the Big Picture as it is represented on the situation maps at corps or army headquarters. Members of a squad or platoon know only what they can see and hear of combat. They know and understand the earth for which they fight, the advantage of holding the high ground, the protection of the trench or hole. These men can distinguish the sounds of enemy weapons from those of their own; they know the satisfying sound of friendly artillery shells passing overhead and of friendly planes diving at an objective. They know the excitement of combat, the feeling of exhilaration and of despair, the feeling of massed power, and of overwhelming loneliness. The author has tried to describe combat as individuals have experienced it, or at least as it has appeared from the company command post. In so doing, much detail has been included that does not find its way into more barren official records. The details and the little incidents of combat were furnished by surviving members of the squads and companies during painstaking interviews and discussions soon after the fighting was over. Conversely, many facts have been omitted from the narrative presented here. The accounts tell only part of the complete story, intentionally ignoring related actions of cause and effect in order to keep one or two small units in sharper focus. The story of action on Heartbreak Ridge, for example, describes fighting that lasted only one or two hours, whereas the entire battle for that hill went on for several weeks. Sometimes there are obvious gaps because
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Preface
important information was lost with the men who died in the battle. Sometimes the accounts are incomplete because the author failed to learn or to recount everything of importance that happened. The stories that follow have been selected as representative of the important battles of the Korean conflict. In chronological sequence, they follow the fighting beginning on the second day of the participation of United States troops until the war settled into a static defense of fortified lines. Because most of the peninsula is covered with an intricate mass of hills and ridges, many of the battles in Korea took place on hilltops. The typical Korean ridge rises from rice paddies and a stream at its base and slants upward at an angle of forty-five or more degrees. It takes an hour of steady climbing to reach the top and, once they have reached the path-wide crest, the sweating infantrymen see only another ridge ahead, and others beyond it, stretching in row after row to the purple haze at the horizon, In the wintertime the hills are windblown and harsh but when summer rains come to Korea and the morning mist drifts along the ridgelines there is a fresh beauty to the land. The hills become verdant and between them the rice paddies, in delicate shades of green, are so neat they look as if someone had combed them by hand and set them out in the sun. Other than the beauty of the landscape, American soldiers find little that is desirable in Korea. It has always been a poor land, and the shifting combat has reduced many of the villages to heaps of red ashes, many of the people to destitution. In the combat zone only the hills seem unchanged, and even a few of them are beaten up and bare from the fighting. This is the setting for the stories that follow. The preparation of this book has not been a one-man project. Major General Orlando Ward, U.S. Army (now retired), is responsible for the book, having planned it and furnished much of the enthusiasm and inspiration necessary to get the writing done. It is a personal pleasure for the author to share the credit for the book with nine officers with whom h e worked and often shared tents in Korea. These officers, members of historical detachments, were engaged in collecting and preserving accurate historical records of the Korean conflict. From the large number of accounts that they prepared, the author has included eleven that were either partially or almost wholly prepared by them. To the following officers the author is indebted for this valuable assistance and for the pleasure of sharing the experiences of Korea: Major Edward C. Williamson, Captain John Mewha, Captain Martin Blumenson, Major B. C. Mossman, Major Pierce Briscoe, Major William J. Fox, Lieutenant Bevin R. Alexander, Lieutenant Edgar Denton, and Major Robert H. Fechtman. The author reserves a special acknowledgment of indebtedness and a n expression of appreciation to Lt. Co!, Roy E. Appleman. During both World War I I and the Korean War, the author benefited from Colonel Appleman’s familiarity with military history and from his sturdy good judgment.

Preface

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Except for one, the discussions following most of the action accounts were compiled by Lt. Colonel Carl D. McFerren of the Office of the Chief of Military History, and based upon comments from the Army schools at Fort Benning, Fort Sill, and Fort Knox. At the request of the Chief of Military History, Lieutenant Nicholas A. Canzona, U.S. Marine Corps, wrote the discussion following “Attack Along a Ridgeline.” Th e discussions do not necessarily reflect the official view of the Department of the Army, but are included to stimulate thought and promote discussion. No attempt has been made to mention everything that is either good or bad about the conduct of the battles described and, in many cases, the obvious has been intentionally avoided. Neither has there been any attempt to place blame, since no one can claim that, in the same circumstances, he could have done better. Miss Mary Ann Bacon has been generous in giving skillful editorial guidance to the author. Mr. Alfred M. Beck accomplished the numerous tasks required to convert the original publication into the present edition. Mrs. Vivian Brooks prepared all maps illustrating the text, and Mr. Robert Johnstone prepared the two pen-and-ink sketches. To them the author is deeply grateful. Finally, the author is anxious to thank several hundred men and officers of the United States Army who have been both patient and generous in furnishing the information upon which the accounts are based. Without their cooperation this book could not have been written and eventually much of the information presented here would have been lost, just as the dust and smoke disappear from the battlefield when the fighting is over. RUSSELL A. GUGELER Stuttgart, Germany 30 September 1969

Contents
Page ... iii

FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 WITHDRAWAL ACTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 ATTACK ALONG A RIDGELINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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3 20

3 DEFENSE OF A BATTERY POSITION 4 TANK ACTION AT CHONGJU . 5 ARTILLERY AT KUNU-RI . . . . .

. 31 39 45 54 80 126 137 144 154 166 183 193 202 215 222 236 246 247

6 CHOSIN RESERVOIR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 TWIN TUNNELS PATROL AMBUSH . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

8 CHIPYONG-NI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 9 TASK FORCE CROMBEZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 TANK SUPPORT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11 A RIFLE COMPANY AS A COVERING FORCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 ARTILLERY IN PERIMETER DEFENSE. 13 HILL 800 (BUNKER HILL) 14 TASK FORCE GERHARDT . 15 MILLION DOLLAR HILL 16 BLOODY RIDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

17 HEARTBREAK RIDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 OUTPOST EERIE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 COMBAT PATROL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

LEGEND TO SYMBOLS ON MAPS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .