Sunday, January 21, 2018

Put your parka on before watching


PBS American Experience Documentary on The Battle of Chosin .

"...somebody started singing the Marine Corps hymn. I couldn't believe it, they're singing the Marine Corps hymn!  We're
coming through the lines and somebody handed me a canteen cup full of hot coffee and a box of graham crackers and I just sat down the snow and had probably the best meal I ever had my life. At night I slept in my sleeping bag on the straw inside a tent that was like luxury. 

After that Marines regiments had gotten back from west of the reservoir and consolidated, there was a lot of correspondents  there,  likeTime magazine and Life [saying that] it's not like Marines to retreat].  Gen. Smith bristled at the notion that this was a withdrawal or a retreat. There was no front;  there was no rear.  He was surrounded in all directions and therefore any movement in any direction is essentially an attack,  General Smith insisted his men were not retreating but attacking in another direction ....

I cannot remember having a meal at Hagrid. We were pretty short of everything. The worst part was those rubber boots that came up about halfway to your knees. The bottom portion of them with rubber and as long as you were moving that they worked good and but climbing those hills your your socks would get wet from sweat and then that  you had no way to change the socks so if you laid in the snow all night long your feet would freeze.

The rubber boots had a felt insole,  about a half inch thick, that was supposed to absorb perspiration. Instead the insole would freeze and it was like walking on ice.  They'd give me some hot coffee and morphine, but they they took my boots  off and I saw that my toes were black and I sort of lost it I wanted to cry again.  I didn't, but I wanted to cry. I said a  few curse words  ... somebody came over and says 'knock it off; Act like a Marine!  I shut up.  My boot was frozen so they could chop the boot off and part of my toes head came off inside the boot and when they took the boot off, all the toes are gone. They tapped my toe; big toe, and 2/3 of them was found inside of that that boot ... (transcript)

Found this on You Tube.  There were (are)  precious few books, stories, documentaries, or even mentions of the Korean war. This is one of the best.


David aka True Blue Sam said...

The man who opened the IL Forestry Office at Fairfield (My office for 29 years) was Mel Gerardo: Melvin Gerardo, 81, of Cape Coral, passed away March 31, 2012, at Hope Hospice.
Mel was born June 22, 1930, in Eagarville, Ilinois, to the late Frank and Caroline Gerardo. He graduated from Benld Township High School, Benld, IL, in 1948. Proudly serving his country with the U. S. Marine Corps, he was with the First Marine Division in Korea and in the battle at the Chosin Reservoir. Mel then enrolled at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1956. His career as a forester for the Illinois Division of Forestery, culiminated as Superintendant of the Union State Tree Nursery, Jonesboro, IL.

Mel used an M1 to get rid of deer who stopped to acorns from his freshly planted oak beds. I handled a bunch of his files, and one of his cases is still living, and a good friend. I did not know that Mel was at Chosin until I saw his obit. He ran a good operation at Union County. His seedlings were the best. I miss him.

Anonymous said...

While visiting my Son's family in Cape Coral a couple of months ago my Daughter in Law made sure she took me to the Veterans Museum in Town. What a pleasure, a great collection of Military artifacts.

On topic:
A friend of the family served during the Korean War and was a the Frozen Chosin. Charlie got frost bite and lost all his fingers and toes. After being separated from the Army, he came home and trained himself and made his own invention for "Tuning Piano's". Charlie made a comfortable living doing it, until he decided to change careers and being a "Sound Producer" {he would record all major events at the Academy} at West Point, New York until he retired.


Anonymous said...

I have read and would recommend the following:

This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach* (actually I would recommend anything Fehrenbach wrote on any subject).

The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin

Breakout by Martin Russ*

Colder than Hell by Joseph Owen*

* = Active participants in the festivities.

I've been told The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam is pretty good too. It's in the stack but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Sir H the Comet

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