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The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 54

After our stay in Pusan, the 7th Infantry Division started moving north again and started filling our ranks with new recruits or enlistees from the States. The Faith Battalion, as it has become to be famous for and written about was looking for most of the new personnel. The first battalion of the 32nd Infantry Regiment was decimated at the Chosen Reservoir.

The G-3 Section of the 7th Infantry Division was getting crowded because the new people coming from the States wanted to stay as far behind the lines as possible. The Captain of Company B was begging for recruits. Sergeant Wetzel was looking for someone he could volunteer for duty with Company B. Turns out it was his nemesis, me. Off I went to Company B. This was not all bad because I had notice some of the correspondence coming across my desk was that before long there was to be a rotation back to the States. Longest away from the States was given a higher priority. Front line troops plus longest away from the States was destined to be on the first troop ships headed home.

I packed my duffel bag and headed over to Company B. All of us at Company B of the 32nd Infantry Regiment were new to each other because there were only 3 that survived in the Chosen Reservoir without being taken prisoner of war, wounded or KIA. Out of compassion the 3 that survived the ordeal were assigned to safer units.

The entire 7th Infantry Division started moving forward to mid-South Korea, all the while doing practice combat maneuvers. In February 1951 we were assigned a section of the front line. Matt Ridgway was brought in by MacArthur to give some order to the 8th Army after the death of General Walker in a jeep accident. This was in late December of 1950. Unfortunately MacArthur had separated the command into the 8th Army under Ridgway and the X Corp under his friend Ned Almonds who needed a little combat experience to get the next star on his shoulder. The 7th Infantry Division was under X Corp leadership.

Between February 17 and March 17 of 1951, the 7th Infantry Division and my Company, Company B of the 32nd Infantry Regiment started pushing north again in combat mode. I can remember very well the day we found them near Chipyong-ni. My squad was walking ahead of the probing group and I noticed some pretty flairs coming from the mountain tops. Then the machine guns broke loose. We ran for the ditches and any other cover that we could find. The tanks came forward and zeroed in on the incoming fire and neutralized the machine guns after about 30 minutes. I think back at those flares and realize that I should have prewarned my men to hit the ditch then. A couple of my squad were wounded and I was scot free until I noticed when I was taking my boots, there was this hole in my britches leg where the leg was tucked into the combat boots. Close call. We cleared the hills, secured the road and bedded down for the night.

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The Grahams’ of Cochran County – Chapter 52

The Korean War had now changed from retreat to pursue.  Those in the Pusan Perimeter were now breaking out and coming north in pursuit of the retreating North Korean Army.  The orders for the 7th Infantry Division, after the successful invasion at Inchon was to go south so we could board ships.  Some said we were being sent back to the States.  Wishful thinking.  We were headed north to make a landing in North Korea.  I am not sure Truman wanted that.  MacArthur thought it was the right thing to do.IMG_1183[2130]

The landing site in North Korea was the Hamhung, Hungnam area.  The South Korean Army was coming up the east side of Korea and was to meet up with the U. S Marines first and the keep going to meet up with the 7th Infantry Division at Hamhung.  They were to keep going up to the Yalu river on the east side of Korea.

The orders for the lst Marine Division was to go to the Chosen Reservoir Area and head to the Yalu river.  The 7th Infantry Division was to go up to the Yalu River East of Chosen.  The 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division was the lead unit and they made it to the Yalu river and celebrated by making a urine deposit in the river.  Then things got hairy.  This was the last of October in 1950.

There was a lot of talk about the Chinese entering the war but this seemed to be discounted.  MacArthur was quoted as saying “The Chinese would not dare to intervene”.  When all of the American and South Korean forces started going over the 38th Parallel it was with a lot of enthusiasm that the Korean Peninsula could be united under a Democratic Government.

Several things happened to change the results of the war.  The “Coldest Winter” came to bog down the American Troops who were not well equipped for this kind of weather.  The Communist Chinese did indeed enter the war with a vengeance.   The air support was spotty because of bad weather conditions.  On October 9, 1950 when I was supposed to be discharged from the Army, I was in North Korea near the North Korean Chosen Reservoir getting frostbite.  I was headed back to Hamhung, Hungnam to be evacuated to South Korea.  Christmas 1950 in the good old USA?  How about South Korea?

Fast forward 68.5 years and we are still having difficulty with the North Korean Dictatorship.