Ballad of Chosin

By Frank G. Gross

Frank Gross wrote his emotionally gripping lyrics describing the Battle of Chosin Reservoir at the Philadelphia naval hospital on December 29, 1950, as he was beginning treatment for war injuries and the frostbite that eventually cost him parts of his toes. This ballad is believed to be one of the first written about the Korean War.

The nights are cold in Korean soil
But the nights been cold before
And its not so hard in your own back yard
To be set for peace or war
But in history there's a chapter
Of a place called Valley Forge
Repeated one December
On the Chosin Reservoir

They had us all surrounded
I could hear them scream and yell
My feelings at that moment
No tongue could ever tell
I saw the bursting mortar shells
And the bullets around me flew
As all my strength had left me
And all my courage too

But with the breaking of the morning
just before the dawn
I heard the sounding bugles
And the big attack was on
The cotton quilted uniforms
Against our bullet spree
The screaming yelling banzai
They called the human sea

Baby faces bearded
and chapped with hardened mud
Parkas that were dirty
And stained with frozen blood
Here a bunch of youngsters
Who fought on to the end
In the battle of the Chosin
Where boys were changed to men
Twelve long miles of convoy
Headed for the sea
Roadblocks at every turning
Down through Koto-ri
The frost bite and the wounded
The dead and dying too
No matter what the objective be
These boys were going through



Down through Koto-ri
The frost bite and the wounded
The dead and dying too
No matter what the objective be
These boys were going throug

The captain he informed us
Perhaps he thought it right
Before we reach the river boys
Were going to have to fight
But we're going out like marines
In an organized withdraw
And no matter what the rumors say
Its no retreat at all

We fought at least nine hours
Before the strife was ore
And the like of dead and wounded
I've never seen before
But the ever lasting promise
Kept along each bloody yard
No one leaves behind the wounded
Cause there ain't no fight that hard

The chaplain collected dog tags
In his hands were quite a few
There was Captain Smith's McCloskies
And corporal Bryan's too
But before we reached the river
And fought our way back through
The sergeant had the dog tags
And he had the chaplain's too

If I made you pause one moment
And take a little time
Then I know it wasn't just in vain
That I put these words to rhyme
For there's just to many people
Who take this all in stride
They hear these tales of battle
Then cast it all aside

Oh the nights were cold in Korean soil
But the nights been cold before


 


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