General O. P Smith Interview
By: Pat Roe
Pat Roe, Author of "The Dragon Strikes" is one of the, and considered
by most, the most knowledgeable historians relating to the Chosin Reservoir.
Roe is the former historical chairman of the Chosin Few and was the S-2 of
the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines
In June, 1969, Ben Frank, the Marine Corps' Chief Historian, conducted and interview with General O.P. Smith. This is a copy of only those portions of this extensive interview which pertain to the operations of the division in North Korea, commencing with the initial contact with the Chinese on November 2, 1950. The complete interview covering General Smith's entire tour in Korea can be found in the papers of Lt. Gen. O. P. Smith, Marine Corps Research Center, Quantico Virginia. For more on Ben Frank click on his name below:
About Ben Frank
Litzenberg went on up the road and met these people just below Chinhung-ni, and they had quite a fight. Litzenberg had 43 killed and a couple of hundred wounded, but they absolutely decimated this 124th CCF Division. Then we took it kind of slow from there on out. I was hoping that we wouldn't have to get up on that plateau, which was 4,000 feet up with winter descending and only one road going up there. And the Army had become somewhat sobered by the experiences of the 1st Cavalry Division in the West. The Chinese had sent in an advance force over there just like they had sent in an advance force over on our side, and the 1st Cavalry Division lost practically an entire regiment. It was surrounded and chopped up.
Q. They withdrew fast too, didn't they?
Smith: Not at that time. They tried to attack and relive that regiment, but the attack never broke through. So everybody was sobered a bit by that, and for about ten days there was no talk about rushing to the Yalu; and the out came the directives again on the 10th of November to go to the Yalu. Instead of letting the 5th Marines follow up the 7th going up the road- you could only put one RCT on the road at a time, it was part one-way, sometimes two way -- there was another road that went out to the Northeast, and they directed me to go out there and seize the Fusen Reservoir.
Q: Split your forces ?
Smith: Yes. The Fusen Reservoir was about opposite the Chosin Reservoir, and we went out that way and had reconnaissance patrols go out, and there was no road from our side going to the Reservoir. The road came in from Gen. Barr's side, where the 7th Division was. I finally talked Gen. Almond into letting us off the hook on that, so the 5th could follow up the 7th. Then the 1st Marines gradually was released down below and came on up, and I was given an order to move out to the Northwest, out another road from Hamhung and establish a blocking position out there. I went to Almond and said, "After all, we can't make a main effort in two directions. We've got one main effort, which is going up this road by the Chosin Reservoir to the Yalu, and here you are telling us to be prepared for a major attack out to the Northwest." By that time the 3rd Infantry Division had landed, and I said, "Why can't they take over that job?" And they did eventually.
What I was trying to do was to slow down the advance and stall until I could pull up the 1st Marines behind us and get our outfit together. I was unable to complete that until the 27th of November. By that time the 1st Marines had been broken loose from all its commitments down below, and I was able to put a battalion of the 1st at Hagaru-ri, and a battalion at Koto-ri, and a battalion at Chinhung-ni. They were to guard our main supply route.
I was told to occupy a blocking position at Yudam-ni with the 7th, and to have the 5th go by the east side of the reservoir and continue on to the Yalu. I told Murray and the 5th to take it easy; that we would fix an objective every day. The only objective the Corps gave me was the Yalu River. I told Litzenberg not to go too fast. He didn't want to go over the pass and down to Yudam-ni because we had this tremendous open flank. But the pressure was being put on me to get going. Finally, I had to tell Litzenberg to go on over and occupy Yudam- ni.
Apparently pressure was put on Gen. MacArthur by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to get closer contact between the X Corps and the Eighth Army. Then they devised a new plan by which they rushed up some troops of the 31st and 32nd Infantry to relive the 5th on the east side of the Reservoir, and then the 5th would be moved over to Yudam-ni; and the 5th and 7th would attack northwest from Yudam-ni to relive the pressure on the 8th Army. And these poor devils of the 31st and 32nd Infantry came to me to get parkas and stuff like that, and I said, "Look, we've got one parka per man and that's all." They didn't have liners to their parkas, and there were an awful lot of frostbite casualties. We couldn't help them out on that. They went up there. I warned them. I said, "Now look, don't go out on a limb, take it easy up there." They had one battalion dash out and go up 3-4,000 yards ahead of the other battalion, and that was on the 27th of November when everything hit. They had a tremendous job fighting to get the two battalions together, and then they were continuously attacked. There was a division there against them. We had a division against us too at Hagaru-ri. They had to abandon their artillery, and they got down within, I think, four miles of Hagaru-ri. LtCol. Faith who was commanding the task force - the colonel had been killed - was killed, and the outfit just fell apart. They moved down toward the Reservoir which was frozen to a depth of 18 inches - it would take a jeep - and they started coming down the Reservoir toward Hagaru-ri. For some reason or other the Chinese didn't shoot at the troops on the ice; I don't know why, but they didn't.
Q. Was that the group Beale saved?
Smith: Yes. And Beale - he took a jeep and drove up on the ice to see what was going on. He said it was pitiful. Some of these me were dragging themselves on the ice, some had gone crazy and were walking in circles. He began rescuing them. He devised sleds and hauled the sleds up there, and in one day he rescued 250 of them. The Army was very grateful; they gave Beale the Distinguished Service Cross for that. Some of them just wandered down the road. The young Marine, who was up there with the air liaison party, got out - how he got out I don't know. He was a captain.
Q. Was that Fred Fees?
Smith: I've forgotten. He was a captain, and he joined us. We got Murray over to Yudam-ni there all right. I flew up on the 26th the day before the Chinese hit. I flew by helicopter up to Yudam-ni and visited Litzenberg. I couldn't catch Murray; he was en route at the time. Litzenberg at that time had his CP about 4,000 yards short of Yudam-ni. I didn't know just where he was. I flew on to Yudam-ni and saw a group of tents and dropped down. That was Ray Davis with the headquarters of his battalion which was occupying Yudam-ni, and he directed me how to get to Litzenberg. I then went back by helicopter to Litzenberg's CP which was on a gentle slope, and we tried to land. The ground was covered with ice, and every time we put the wheels of the helicopter down we'd skid. Then in order to get down we went down into the flat of the valley - maybe 200 yard further down - and came down straight. We were up over 4,000 feet, and the ceiling of the helicopter at that time was only 5,000 feet. And in that thin air we dropped the last 15 feet. We came down with quite a bang, but we didn't break anything. I talked to Litzenberg, and then came back.
Murray had jumped off in the attack at 8 a.m. on the 27th - you could only attack with one regiment at a time. There was just this one road and steep hills. He jumped off and made about 2,000 yards, while Litzenberg continued to hold the high ground on either side of the road. He ran into considerable opposition out there. The only order I got from the Corps was to displace a regiment to come back to Hagaru-ri to rescue the Army outfit east of the Reservoir. My God, at that time we were being attacked by three CCF Divisions ourselves. Our road was cut by the Chinese; the Chinese were across the road between Yudam-ni and Toktong Pass and across the road between Toktong Pass and Hagaru-ri. They didn't give me any orders other than to redeploy a regiment to rescue the 31st and 32nd Infantry units. I had already told Litzenberg, who had the rear regiment, to clear the road if he could.
made, as I said, about 2,000 yards, and I halted the attack, because it was
manifest that we were up against a massive force out there. But we got no order
from Corps for two days to actually withdraw, so we couldn't do anything but
defend, as I couldn't withdraw without permission from higher authorities. On
this redeployment of a regiment, I'd already told Litzenberg to use as much
of his regiment as he could to try to clear the road back to Hagaru-ri. We didn't
know just how much was across it. Q. Was there any knowledge on the part of
the Corps Commander of your predicament-
Smith: Every four hours we sent in a report of what was going on, but apparently they were stunned; they just couldn't make up their minds that the Chinese had attacked in force, you see. They just had to re-orient their thinking. It took them two days before we actually were told to withdraw to Hagaru-ri and advance to the coast - that took them two days to figure out.
Litzenberg got nowhere in clearing the road. When I gave Litzenberg the order to try to clear the road, I had Murray come back to Yudam-ni - to come back the 2,000 yards - to relieve the 7th Marines on the hills they were defending in the vicinity of Yudam-ni. Then they defended there. As a matter of fact, after the first night they didn't have such a terrible time. The first night was the worst, they really were attacked in force that first night.
Q: Did you have the Royal Marines attached to you at this time- Smith: Yes.
Q: Drysdale's force.
Smith: Drysdale. I'll go into that in discussing the Drysdale column. We had had a plan to use Drysdale with our Reconnaissance Company to make a wide sweep around and see what was there, but the Chinese closed in and we had to use them just as infantry. Drysdale came to Hagaru-ri to join us. He had fought his way up from Koto-ri, and that's where he joined us; he was in command of the so-called Drysdale Column that Lewie Puller sent north to clear the road. The Drysdale Column consisted of his Commandos, the missing company of the 3rd Battalion 1st [Marines], which was at Hagaru-ri, and a company of the Army which was trying to get up to the people on the east side of the reservoir. He got about half way and ran into a lot of opposition; he had tanks with him. He sent me a message and told me about his situation and wanted to know whether I really wanted him to come on through. I told him if it was at all possible to fight his way on through, because we had been attacked in division strength and all we had was a battalion, less a rifle company at Hagaru-ri.
So he came on with the Marine rifle company and the tanks. They had a lot of casualties, but they got into Hagaru-ri and we were very glad to get them. The Army company disappeared; I don't know what happened to it - prisoners of war- Part of the tanks had to go back. The trouble had been that the enemy had burned some trucks on the road and our convoy was blocked. The troops and the tanks came on through but the trucks were stopped. McLaughlin was in command of the Marine truck convoy and the Chinese surrounded him and he eventually surrendered on the promise that they would take care of the wounded - he had a lot of wounded.
My stenographer was in one of those; he was wounded in the hip, and he dragged himself into a hut. The Chinese didn't bother him. A little North Korea boy took care of him, gave him water and what not. This was on the 29th of November, and we didn't come back down that road until the 6th of December, and when Litzenberg came back down the road he heard this faint call, "American, American!" or his patrols did. They thought it might be a trap, and they cautiously surrounded this hut, and found Corporal Erwin in there. He had on his parka and his shoe-pacs and everything, but he'd been wounded and had lost blood, and had lost circulation, and his legs were frozen. We got him to Koto- ri and flew him out to Japan. They had to amputate both legs. I corresponded with him later. I didn't see him again. I wrote him a letter in the hospital in Japan and he wrote back. He had good spirit. He said, "After all, I am a stenographer and I don't need my legs to be a stenographer." Then he went to Oak Knoll Hospital in Oakland. when I came out of Korea I went around to Oak Knoll to see him, but the nurses said they couldn't keep him under control - he'd taken his furlough and shoved off before his artificial limbs had arrived. They said he was a ball of fire, and his spirit must have impressed people because he was made the marshal of the football parade of the University of California while he was there. He had fine spirit. Then I lost track of him. The last thing, he sent me a picture of himself and with what I assumed to be was his wife and child; I don't know. They were standing by an automobile and he looked perfectly natural. He had artificial limbs by that time.
Well, we couldn't begin the breakout from Yudam-ni until December 1st. By that time we had orders. The 7th was to lead out. The 5th had to break away and make a daylight withdrawal from the hills around Yudam-ni, and that was rather tricky, but they got out in good shape. They fell back and took up a position astride the road further toward Hagaru-ri while Litzenberg continued on. As a matter of fact, the 5th did an excellent job.
Of course Barber had been up on Toktong Pass - he belonged to Litzenberg. Litzenberg had dropped him off there as a precaution, to have somebody guard the Pass. And then Litzenberg wanted Barber to rejoin him at Yudam-ni. Barber looked the situation over, and that was impossible - the Chinese were all around the place and he couldn't withdraw. He'd have to fight his way and he didn't have enough people to fight. So he sat tight and defended the pass. About a regiment was what attacked him, and he beat it off. He himself was wounded through the leg, and he strapped a board to his leg, had people carry him around, and remained in command. And Davis with his battalion was sent across country to relive him. Davis moved throughout the night and eventually got around and identified himself. Barber wanted to send out some people to bring Davis in, and Davis said I'll come in myself, you don't have to send anybody out here to bring me in." Davis joined Barber, and then they cleaned the Chinese off the ridge on which Toktong Pass was located. A battalion of the 5th by that time was coming up the valley under the fellow who landed at Wolmi-do - Taplett. He attacked up from up the road toward Toktong Pass, and Davis' outfit got behind the Chinese, and between the two of them they got rid of those people. Then the road was opened.
Then they fought down the mountain. There were Chinese between Toktong Pass and Hagaru-ri, so there was more fighting to do. There was not much we could do at Hagaru-ri. We'd been attacked twice there in division strength and had had a lot of casualties, and had to use all our service personnel in the lines - everybody fought. We did send the Commandos out the road. On the 3rd of November they began coming in to Hagaru-ri.
Q: Was a strip there for landing?
Smith: Oh, yes. Field Harris and I had gone up early in the game and selected the site of that field. The corps at that time wasn't interested in any field up there. I told Almond that we ought to have a field that would take transport planes to bring in supplies and take out casualties. He said, "What casualties?" That's the kind of thing you were up against. He wouldn't admit there ever would be any casualties. We took 4,500 casualties out of that field. So Field Harris went up and selected a site. It was nothing but a bean field, but being mid-winter it was frozen to a depth of 18 inches, so all you had to do was scape it smooth and make an airfield. As I remember, we finished that on the 1st of December - enough so that a transport plane could get in - and we sent out wounded. But the fourth plane to come in was loaded with ammunition, and it collapsed its landing gear; and that finished the strip for the day, because the plane was so heavy you couldn't moved it. But it was late in the day anyway. The next day we got operating at full speed, and I think we got out over 900 casualties.
What we were working on first were these Army casualties from this over-run Task Force Faith, you see.
Q: They were in bad shape?
Smith: I'm afraid that some got out that weren't in too bad shape. What these jokers would do, some of them might have frostbitten fingers, something like that. They would go down to the strip and get a blanket and a stretcher and the groan a bit; the corpsmen would come along and put them on a plane. The doctor came to me and he was fit to be tied because he knew how many seriously wounded he had that should be evacuated, and he knew how many had gone out by air, and it just didn't make sense. Somebody was getting out of there who wasn't seriously hurt. It was our fault probably, because the Air Force had sent up what they called an Evacuation Officer, and the doctor assumed that the Evacuation Officer would see that the proper people got aboard the planes, but that was not his function at all; he was just thinking in terms of planes, not on what was flown on the planes. After that I couldn't have gotten aboard a plane without a ticket. Nobody after that got on any plane without a ticket that showed that he was due to get out.
Q: Were any of the Marines trying to pull that stuff?
Smith: I don't think so, because they were certified by the doctors and they had spirit. I am sure no Marines. I had quite a time with those Army people - they had no spirit. We tried to help them out as best we could. We had to fly in weapons to re- arm them. They'd thrown away all their weapons. I put LtCol Anderson (of the Army) in command of them. They didn't want to put up tents - they felt it was up to us to take care of them, feed them, and put up tents for them.
We disabused them of that idea. We eventually salvaged 385 of them. As near as I can make out, that Task Force (Faith) had 2,800 men when they went up there. There were a few Army troops that were left in Hagaru-ri but as near as I can make out, 2,800 were in Task Force Faith or in Task Force McLean, the first colonel, and we evacuated 900 of them. We salvaged 385, so there must have been over 1,200 killed, captured, or what have you. The 385 we joined to what Army troops we had in Hagaru-ri and made a provisional battalion. They marched out with us. I attached them to Litzenberg, and they were pitiful. Litzenberg gave them the job of guarding the left flank, to march along the column; and when the Chinese opened up, they simply went through the column to the other side and took off. Well, Anderson was a pretty good fellow; he tried to get them under control and get them back. Litzenberg had to take on of the regular battalions to send up there to take over. Anderson brought charges later against some of the officers. According to the word I got later he was put in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo.
Q: Anderson was?
Smith: Yes, and they never did anything about his charges. That's the story I got. I forget who told it to me - maybe Litzenberg. But they came on out with us. I am afraid that some of those 900 Army troops which were evacuated shouldn't have gone out, because over in Tokyo GHQ looked over some of those cases that were coming into the hospitals with only minor frostbite. And GHQ sent over a directive, which Adm. Joy never sent to me - sent it to Adm. Joy for the Marine Corps and to the Army for the Army troops - stating that there was a lack of leadership, because there shouldn't have been this frostbite if there had been good leadership. That made me mad as a hatter. Of course, Adm. Joy swept it under the rug. He didn't's send the thing on, but I heard about it and I wrote Gen. Cates. i said, this just didn't make sense at all. "What are you going to do? Here I have just given a silver star to a sergeant who pulled off his mittens in order to heave a grenade and he got frostbitten fingers. Are you going to court-martial that man for not taking proper precautions against frostbite? Are you going to court martial his battalion commander, his regimental commander, his division commander?" Silverthorne wrote me a letter and said, "Don't worry about it." By that time my senior medical officer had been detached and came back to Washington, and he had gone around talking to a few people and saying, "We know the score." The Army was much upset about it, he said, but as far as the Marine Corps was concerned they took things in their stride.
Q: What did Almond say to your after this was all over? Did you ever have a confrontation with him?
Smith: Oh, no. He came up to Hagaru-ri a couple of times. At first we had enough field there so he could come in a light plane. The first time he came up he was all full of beans, and he wanted by 6 o'clock that evening our time schedule for rescuing the 31st Infantry on the other side of the reservoir. Gen. Barr who commanded the 7th Division - he was a pretty good egg - had come up at the same time and we talked it over after Almond left and I said, "We can't do anything about going up there for those people until the 5th and 7th Marines fight their way in to us; then maybe we can do something about it." And Barr agreed with me. So we didn't have to do anything about that. Q: That was David Barr?
Smith: Yes, David Barr, he was a pretty good egg. I liked him. The next time Almond came up, was after Litzenberg and Murray had fought their way out, and he came up and gave us all the Distinguished Service Cross, and he was weeping. I don't know what he was weeping about, whether from the cold or from emotion or what it was. I didn't' t know anything about this in advance. He came up to me and asked me if I'd line up Murray and Litzenberg and myself and Beale. He had one Distinguished Service Cross with him. We suggested that he give the cross to Beale who was the junior. Let him have the cross and we'd get ours some time later. I never did get a citation for that because that's that way they operate in those things. I supposed I would have had to write my own. It came out in Army General Order which simply stated that the decoration was for the Chosin Reservoir.
Q: You have great forbearance. A lesser man would have... Smith: (Laughs) That's what Heinl says! It is true....
Q: Weren't you ever tempted to ...
Smith: Very often, but I held it in. I told Gen. Shepherd some of the trouble. I told Gen. Cates. But I never had any confrontation with Almond. He was trying to get me back in the X Corps after we got out of there. He came to me one day and he said, "I'm going to get you back." I didn't say anything, but I made up my mind that if I could avoid it I wasn't going back. Relations were more or less friendly, but I'd lost confidence in him, that's all.
Q: Had he ever had a combat command before this?
Smith: I talked to one of the newspaper correspondents, and he couldn't understand why on earth they'd ever given him the corps. That was a newspaper correspondent who had been with him in Italy. And in Italy Gen Almond had commanded the 92nd Division which was Negro, and apparently they didn't do too well. He did considerable maneuvering like he tried to do in Korea. this correspondent told me that he maneuvered his outfit so much that he finally was defeated by one German battalion. Now I don't know what the score was. But, apparently, he was imbued with Stonewall Jackson's ideas. He got clobbered three times. He got clobbered at the Chosin Reservoir, and when we went up and attacked on the 21st of February from Wonju, that was his outfit that had been clobbered there. He'd taken a couple of South Korean divisions under his command and tried to effect a double envelopment of the Chinese, and both Korean divisions were clobbered. That's why we went in and went forward from Wonju. He was clobbered a third time - that was just after I left Korea, and I talked to his artillery officer who was a brigadier general, and he said, "Why, everybody told him that he was out on a limb." He had a flank that was open or something, and he said that he had heard the last he wanted to hear about that. The Chinese came around and they had an awful time getting squared away. They did, finally, get all their pieces together, and he Marines helped out a little bit.
Q: It sounds like the world's worst tactician, or at least in Korea.
------------------------------ -- Pages 233 to 236 of the interview were skipped here since they pertain to operations later in the war. General Smith tells of one incident where General MacArthur came over and wanted to visit some front line units, so Smith and General Ridgway spent all day travelling about with MacArthur in a jeep. At the end of the day MacArthur got back on his plane, waved goodbye and took off. Both Smith and Ridgway had bladders about to burst, Ridgway turned on Smith and said, "Why didn't you suggest a rest stop." Smith replied, "Well, you were the senior one." They both wondered how MacArthur held out.
Q: You were still at Hagaru-ri?
Smith: Yes. I have moved my CP up there on the 28th of November. I had my CP at Hungnam, and with all this dispersion of troops that was about as central as I could get. I had sent Eddie Craig up to make a reconnaissance at Hagaru-ri. We figured that was where we should set up next, and Eddie Craig went up to reconnoiter the place and found a house. We were planning to go up when the roof fell in. So on the 28th I flew up by helicopter, because the road was blocked. I had to fly over the Chinese to get into Hagaru-ri and we set up the CP there on the 28th. Eddie Craig on the 27th had gone home. His father was on his death bed; he was very close to his father and I didn't feel that...well, when he left the thing hadn't broken yet. I sent a dispatch to Gen. Shepherd at Pearl Harbor and said unless I received an answer within 12 hours I was going to grant Craig leave to go home. I got no reply, so I let him go, and he went on back to San Antonio, Texas. He had 10 days leave, I think. And, apparently, without my knowledge, Almond or somebody in the army chain of command had wired to the Command of the Marine Corps to get Craig back. I was not administratively under the Army.
Q: After his leave?
Smith: While he was on leave. Eddie told me that he got orders from the Commandant of the Marine Corps to come back. When he got to Pearl Harbor enroute home he talked to Gen. Shepherd and he asked Gen. Shepherd's advice. He said, "Shall I go back or shall I go on and see my father." Gen. Shepherd told him to go on to San Antonio. Then, apparently, somebody complained. Well, I guess it's not too good an idea to have only one Marine general in a division, but he came on back and he joined me at Hungnam as we came out.
Q: His father died?
Smith: Yes. He was very close to his father. Eddie Craig was a very fine person. I was very fond of him. (Pause)
The 5th and 7th fought their way into Hagaru-ri. Our plan for getting out of there was to have the 5th completely capture all the high ground just east of Hagaru-ri - we called it the East Ridge. the Chinese were looking right down at us, and we had never had enough troops to chase them off of there. We held on to one end of the ridge, that's all. So the plan was to have the 5th go up and capture that ridge, because until it was captured the people on the ridge could fire down on the road going to Koto-ri, and we had to have the whole ridge before we could move a large outfit down the road to Koto-ri. Once Murray captured the ridge, then Litzenberg was to start moving down the road. We had divided up the column into two components - one under Litzenberg and one under Murray - the vehicles and everything else. We had Train No. 1 and Train No. 2; we had a very complete operation order. There was no word of withdrawal in there at all. That was an attack order because we were attacking, and we gave them objectives to capture enroute to Koto-ri, and had an appendix on what to do about destruction. And we destroyed very little. We had to destroy a few rations, and we stripped a few deadlined trucks of their spare parts. The rest of the stuff came out all right.
Q: You brought out all your wounded and dead?
Smith: Yes. We flew out 138 bodies from Hagaru-ri. We didn't want to bury them in that God-forsaken place. We had a good cemetery in Hungnam. Litzenberg had had to bury 85 in Yudam-ni because he only had helicopters to get them out of there, and there was a field burial there. But at Hagaru-ri, when we caught up on the wounded, we just slipped the bodies in and it was very simple - they were frozen stiff, there was no putrefaction or anything like that. The corps wanted us to quit, and Gregon Williams handled the phone on that. (Laughs) So he just stalled them. We sent them all out. We didn't pay any attention. Then when we got to Koto-ri we had a very limited strip there. We couldn't fly out the dead, so we buried 113 there. And 96 per cent of those people were identified and their remains brought back and turned over to their next of kin. Of all that outfit, 96 per cent were identified, and I've got to hand it to the North Koreans - they did an excellent job of digging up those bodies and put them in bags and sent them to Panmunjom. They wouldn't let us send up graves registration people to do it. They did it themselves.
Q: As part of the truce terms?
Smith: Yes. And I've got the maps. They sent maps of just where they had found the bodies with a red cross to mark where they had found a body. I've got the maps in here. Bare at that time was in the personnel department and he copied the maps and he sent me the maps: 96 per cent. Where we shouldn't have had unidentified was in this well organized cemetery at Hungnam. We had two or three unidentified there because the 138 bodies we sent in there were buried by the Army, you see, and they were kind of careless in identifying these people. We had a cemetery at Wonsan, a cemetery at Hungnam, a field burial at Koto-ri and a field burial at Yudam-ni, and a few scattered people that they couldn't get out that were buried where they fell, but were identified and reported. I've got to hand it to them. Q: Didn't you have a problem when Maggie Higgins came up to Hagaru-ri-
Smith: Yes, that was interesting. Maggie had visited us a good bit in the Inchon Campaign. She was quite popular with the men and she particularly liked the 5th Marines, and she spent a lot of time with front line companies. She had plenty of fortitude. I met here there once. We were in a CP near Kimpo Airfield - it was an old housing development. (Interruption)
Maggie Higgins came around to my quarters. She was accompanied by Keyes Beech who followed her around all over Korea.
Q: Keyes was an old Marine combat correspondent.
Smith: That's right. She hinted that she'd been invited to dinner. I didn't know anything about it. She disappeared into another room to comb her hair - it needed combing. She was in khaki and her hair was pretty well mussed up.
Q: Were you taken aback with this self invitation?
Smith: Well, we told her we'd give her a cup of coffer or something. I found that what had happened was that she had run into Eddie Craig and his aide out in the field somewhere, and they had invited her to dinner, but they hadn't gotten the word to me, and we gave her whatever we had - it wasn't much.
The next time I ran into her was at Koto-ri. She had talked the Air Force into flying her in there. It was not right, because we were pressed to get planes to get our wounded out. It meant that she could come in all right, but to get her out would mean we would have to displace a wounded man. Well, Lewie Puller was in command at Koto-ri, and, of course, I came down from Hagaru-ri. The division was assembling there to fight on the rest of the way. Lewie wanted to know why she was there and told her it was no place for a woman. He told her he had detailed a first lieutenant to follow her around, and he was going to put her on the last plane going out.
I then got in the picture. when I arrived from Hagaru-ri Maggie came to me for support. She said she was just like any other correspondent, man or woman, and she wanted to march down the hill with the troops. I said, "There area lot of good Marines who are getting frostbite, and if you march down with these Marines you probably will get frostbitten, and then somebody is going to have to take care of you. I am sure these Marines will see that you are taken care of, and we haven't got me for that kind of business." She thought it was discrimination. But I said, "Nevertheless, that's it. You have to get out on the last plane." What she did then after being flown out was to come back up to Chinhung-ni and then up the road to meet the Marines when they came down from Koto-ri to Chinghung-ni. She was going to fool me in that she was going to meet them anyway. Then she wrote an article for the Saturday Evening Post, and she took me apart. Ben Hibbs wouldn't publish it as she wrote it;. He was the editor of the Post at that time and he made her temper it. But she did put something in. She said I had ideas of chivalry that didn't agree with her ideas and so forth. She wrote Gen. Cates that I was given to discrimination. Gen. Cates wrote her a letter and kidded her along, and he sent me a copy of the letter he wrote her, and that's the last I heard of her.
Q: Didn't she go out with Gen. Shepherd? Wasn't he there at the time? The two of them flew out together?
I don't know whether she flew out with him. I remember Gen. Shepherd going out.
Q: He told me the two of them had a very rough takeoff because the enemy had the end of the airfield under fire.
Smith: Oh, we had an awful time getting Gen. Shepherd out of there because they were firing from the high ground up to the north, and we had to bring in fighter planes and work over those hills in order to get Gen. Shepherd out. I didn't know Maggie was with him..
Q: He said to her, "God, Maggie, won't it be an awful scandal if the two of us crash together in the plane?"
Smith: Gen. Shepherd wanted to stay overnight with me and I said, "Look , you can do more good down at Corps Headquarter than you can here - to see that planes keep coming up." And I didn't have any accommodations for him. Keyes Beech realized that it was an imposition to try to get on a plane to get out of there. He came up to Koto-ri and he agreed to stay with us. And he didn't have a sleeping bag. He went to Lewie. We had these mountain sleeping bags, but only on the basis of one per man. Finally, Lewie got him a sleeping bag. Then Keyes Beech made the mistake of asking Lewie where he got the sleeping bag, and Lewie said, "Off a corpse." And Keyes Beech didn't sleep very well that night! But that's the only way you could get an extra sleeping bag. These wounded me were brought in in sleeping bags to keep them warm.
Q: David Duncan...
Smith: He joined us at Koto-ri. He walked out with the troops. Q: He got some fantastic pictures.
Smith: He and one other Marine - I think his name was Smith, a correspondent - an ex-Marine, they walked out with the troops. They were the only ones.
Q: Keyes didn't go out with you?
Smith: He didn't go out with the troops. He hung around and I guess maybe he went out on a truck. I don't know how he got out of there, but he didn't go out by plane as far as I know.
Q: How did you feel all this time? Were you optimistic, or were you highly concerned all through this?
Smith: I was pretty optimistic. I talked to Lew Walt about that, and I said, "After all, Lew, it never occurred to me at any time that we wouldn't get out, and I don't think it ever occurred to any man in the division." I don't think it did. It just didn't occur to us that we wouldn't be able to fight our way out. The only time I had cause for great concern was when Litzenberg and Murray were fighting out from Yudam-ni and I got a dispatch from Litzenberg along midnight somewhere and he said "situation grave." I didn't like that at all. but it was followed within an hour or two by a message stating that they had come on through and everything was all right.
Q: At any time during this period were you unhappy with the situation the division was put in by corps.
Smith: We didn't have much time to think about it. We didn't grouch about it. We were intent on getting out of these, and intent on getting supplies and replacement in. The head of the air transport command who became a Lieutenant general - I forget his name. [LtGen. Tunner]
Smith: No. He flew up to see me. They had done a very fine job - Marine planes, Air Force planes - getting our people out, even Greek planes. He said, "Now Smith, when you get these wounded out I've got all kinds of planes, and I'll send them up here just as fast as you want them, and get out all the people that you want to get out." I said, "Look, nobody's going to get out of here who's able bodied. Do you realize we've just flown in 600 replacement?" His jaw dropped. Down at Hungnam we had these people who had been hospitalized, who had been discharged from the hospital and were assembled at Hungnam, and there were 600 of them. We could use them very profitably up our way, so we flew them in, and by that time - well, we flew them in just before the 5th and 7th got into Hagaru-ri, and they were distributed to the outfits they'd come from when the 5th and 7th got in, and the 3rd Battalion of the 1st [Marines] which was at Hagaru-ri. They got their share. Replacement for the 2nd Battalion of the 1st came up to us at Hagaru-ri and we took them down the road and they joined their battalion when we got to Koto-ri. The replacements for the 1st Battalion at Chinhung-ni simply went up the road to Chinhung-ni.
I remember - to show you how loyal Marines are to their unit - I was going around Hagaru-ri one day and I saw a Marine sitting next to a tent, and he was the most dejected person I'd ever seen in my life, and I went to him and said, "What's the matter with you lad?" He said, "I belong to the 1st Marines." I said, "You are in the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines." He said, "But I belong to the 2nd Bat One." I said, "The 2nd Bat One is 10 miles down the road and there are a lot of Chinese between them and us, but we'll get you back there eventually." And he cheered up a bit. But he didn't realize that he'd come into this maelstrom at Hagaru-ri. All he wanted to do was get back to 2nd Bat One. And I hope he got there, but I don't know.
Q: Knowing of you, your reputation and your career and what you've done during the war, this business of writing an attack order - was that a grandstand play - was this the logical move at this time?
Smith: Sure, you couldn't withdraw when you're surrounded. I've tried to explain that a "retreat hell" business to people. You can't retreat or withdraw when you are surrounded. The only thing you can do is break out, and when you break out, that's an attack. And the only fellow who understood that was S. L. A. Marshall - he understood it thoroughly. He wrote up a top secret report on the 1st Division breakout. A very fine document.
Q: I've never seen that.
Smith: Headquarters Marine Corps has got copies. You might dig it out. It was classified either secret or top secret. I had difficulty getting a copy, but I told Gen. Ridgway, I wrote him a letter saying I understood that Col. S. L. A. Marshall had made this study. He'd made a study of the 2nd Infantry Division and of the 1st Division reacting to the Chinese in the attack, and I said that we would be very glad to get the benefit of his observations on how we conducted the operation. He sent over a copy to me, and, of course, I sent that to FMF and they made more copies and I've got it around some place. He was very complimentary.
I've forgotten just where we were.
Q: We were still tracing our way back on the 6th. You hadn't taken off from Hagaru-ri yet.
Smith: No, we took off from Hagaru-ri on the morning of the 6th with the 7th Marines in the lead. By that time the 5th Marines had captured the ridge, the East Ridge. They began coming in the 3rd of December and we had to give them a rest. We just let the outfits rest. Two more Chinese divisions came in. Then the 5th cleaned out the ridge on the 5th of December and then on the 6th we started down the road. Litzenberg got down two miles or three miles, and it took him until 2 o'[clock in the afternoon to clean that up. We were waiting around at Hagaru-ri to get the word when he was really on his way so that we could get into the helicopters and drop into Koto-ri. You had to do a lot of advance planning in this withdrawal. There was no point in going down the road because you would have been out of communication. When I got the message from Litzenberg that he'd finally broken through and was on his way, we all got in the helicopters and went on down to Koto-ri. The only thing that concerned me on that trip was that our planes were really working over that road and those ridges, and the poor old helicopter only had a 5,000 foot ceiling and the road was 4,000 feet up, so we were pretty low, and what concerned me was not the Chinese - I never saw any Chinese, they were there some place - but I was afraid one of those planes might run into us. I was hoping they'd see us. And we got down to Koto-ri. Litzenberg and Murray came on down the road. They had some knock down, drag out fights on that road. The Chinese closed in pretty close. They had to use the artillery at point blank range with fuzes cut down to practically nothing. But we didn't lose many vehicles. They came to the place where the Drysdale Column had been ambushed and tried to get some of those vehicles started, but couldn't.
Then we decided not to hesitate too long at Koto-ri. We had a field there that would take light planes, and during the night Partidge lengthened the field so it would take a transport plan so we could get the wounded out in a hurry. We had 500 casualties for that fight from Hagaru-ri to Koto-ri, Partridge got the extension in, and then the next day there was a heavy snowstorm. Out of the snow came a transport plane that landed on that little field. How it ever found it I don't know. No more planes came in until the snow stopped. It was an Air force planes - he came in.
Well then on the 8th...we got in during the day of the 7th and the night of the 7th -8th all the outfits came in to Koto-ri and we had about 14,000 people in there. We had evacuated some 4,500 from Hagaru-ri, 3,500 of them and the rest were Army. We started out from Hagaru-ri with all able bodied troops. We had no wounded. But we picked up 500 on the trip to Koto-ri, got them out, and attacked on the 8th for the 11 mile advance from Koto-ri to Chinhung-ni which was down the mountain. Schmuck had the 1st Battalion, 1st. He was down at Chinhung-ni. He'd done a good job down there, and he'd chased some Chinese from his area. The plan was to have the Army send up a battalion of the 3rd Division, which by that time was down around Hungnam and Wonsan, and relieve Schmuck so he could attack up the mountain, come up the mountain and meet the 7th and 5th Marines coming down the mountain. There was a high hill there that Schmuck had to capture. Litzenberg was to capture the high ground on the right and left of the road just south of Koto-ri. Murray was to send a battalion or two to the high ground above the bridge site and capture that. Then...
We knew that the bridge over the penstocks just below Koto-ri had been blown when we were still at Hagaru-ri, and Partridge was planning on what to do about it. He flew in a light plane down opposite the bridge - he flew back and forth and he darn near froze to death trying to take some notes, trying to make an estimate of what he needed to replace the blown bridge. The bridge had been blown a couple of times, and the final blowing of it left a gap of about 30 feet, but there was absolutely no way to bypass that bridge, there was this steep slope and these four tremendous pipes - penstocks - that came down the mountainside, and they had this one way concrete bridge across the penstocks. There was no place you could build a bypass. It was just like that. So we knew we had to replace the bridge. He went down and then he talked to me about it.
Q: Was that Gen. Patridge of the Air Force?
Smith: Oh no, this was LtCol. Patridge of the Marine Corps. He commanded the Engineer Battalion. he was kind of a grouchy guy. He came up to me and told me about this plan. He'd talked to the Air force, we had communication with Hungnam by two-way radio telephone links. He said what he want to do was to drop Treadway bridge sections from the air at Koto-ri and put in a Treadway bridge over this gap. He admitted that the Air Force had never dropped Treadway bridge sections. Each section weighed 2,500 pounds. But the Air Force was willing to make some test drops and see what they could do. I asked him a few questions. I said, "Now look, do you know if it'll work? Have you tried it out?" He said he'd made arrangements for a test drop. I said, "suppose some of the sections are damaged in dropping? Have you got any provisions for that?" Yes, he said he'd ordered double the number required. I said, "If all the Treadway bridge stuff fails, are you prepared to put in a trestle bridge?" (We would have lost our tanks of course.) He said, yes, he knew where he could get the timber. I could see that he was mad by that time by my questioning.
He told me, "I got you across the Han River. I got you the airfield. And I'll get you a bridge. (Laughs) I said, "Okay, we'll take that." It took one flying box car to fly one section, and we needed four sections to make the bridge, so we dropped eight sections, and in order not to kill a lot of people we tried to drop them on the perimeter of Koto-ri, not the middle. One section was dropped into Chinese hands, but we still had seven sections, and we didn't kill anybody. And, fortunately for us, Gen. Almond had had an idea that at Hagaru-ri he wanted to set up an advance Corps CP in his optimistic mood. And he had sent a young lieutenant up there with some Treadway trucks with tents and stuff for his advance CP. The Treadway trucks had a winch to handle these sections. We could have done it with a bulldozer, but these trucks were good and this lieutenant had had some experience with the construction of Treadway bridges so he came in very handy.
The next thing was to get the bridge site which was held by the Chinese. Murrary had no difficulty getting to the high ground up above it, but in the snow Litzenberg had pretty slow going trying to get the high ground on either side of the road just south of Koto-ri. He finally got moving going to his second objective down the road. And we started out this bridge train behind him, because we wanted to get that stuff to the bridge site as soon as possible. There were two trucks, I think. They followed close behind Litzenberg's CP, and then mortar fire began to come down and Litzenberg got worried that the mortar fire would hit these darn trucks, so he told Partidge to go on back up the road out of range of the mortar fire and he sent for him later. So Partridge went backup the hill. It was getting dark and he saw what looked like a flat field off to the side of the road and there were some Marine tanks around there, so he figure that was a good place to stop. It wasn't Koto-ri, but those tanks would give him protection. He backed on to this flat place - it was ice, and his trucks crashed. He got one truck out with no difficulty. The other truck was damaged. They stayed there until Litzenberg captured the bridge site. Then they went on down, and it only took Partridge 3 - 1/2 hours to install that bridge.
A Treadway bridge is nothing but two metal treads, but you have to have abutments to tie into, and he had some difficulty building up some abutments there. This bridge would take 50-ton tanks - we had 50-ton tanks - and we needed that bridge to get our tanks out.
But he got the bridge completed. Before he got it completed we started the convoy. By that time we had 1,400 vehicles in that convoy - artillery, tanks, everything - and we'd started out from Hagaru-ri with 1,000 vehicles. We picked up 400 vehicles at Koto-ri. So by the time he got the bridge completed the head of the convoy was at the bridge. Night had come by then, and Partridge had stationed engineers with flashlights to guide these people across the bridge. It went fine for a little while, until one of our big pans - you know what a pan is, you scoop up earth with it.
Smith: We had about three or four of those that we'd used building the airfield. It was dragged by a big tractor and it started to cross the bridge and it crashed the plywood center. The bridge had metal treads that would take 50 tons, and the center was of plywood and would take 30 tons. What you did with the tanks was you ran the tank treads on the main metal treads and the trucks would run with one wheel on the metal tread and one wheel on the plywood. And of course the jeeps were narrower still. Well Partridge had no more plywood, so he did some quick figuring, and he figured that if he pulled out all the plywood and shoved the two metal treads together with bulldozers he could make it. By that time his Treadway trucks had gone on down the road, you see, and all he had was bulldozers. He had to push those treads closer together, and he did some careful measurements. There was a lip on the inside of each of these treads to keep the wheels from going over, and he measured it so that a jeep would go across there with a half in play for each wheel on either side of these lips. Then the trucks would ride nicely on the two treads. the tanks, when they went across, had half of one of their treads over the edge of the bridge. They proceeded very slowly at two miles an hour to move the convoy across. And all vehicles got across except for two or three tanks.
Partridge then blew the bridge. He said in his interview afterwards, " I had a sense of well being, after all had gone across and I had blown the bridge."
There is where Lewie Puller slipped up, on the loss of the tanks. The plan was that the 1stMarines were to be left in Koto-ri to defend and come out as rear guard. By that time Lewie had his two battalions. The 3rd had come down from Hagaru-ri and he had the 2nd there with him. He also had an Army battalion that had come up the road.
The 7th and the 5th - the 7th first, I think it was the 7th first, and then the 5th - were to come down the road and go on out, and then Lewie was to relive the 7th and the 5th on their objective. As they pulled out, the 1st Marine battalions were up on those objective. Well, it was quite a climb up to where Murray had been, up over the bridge site. The battalion of the 5th - I think it was Stevens - had been up there and he hadn't been attacked. Lewie looked over the situation and decided there was no use sending one of his battalions up to relieve the 5th behind the bridge site, and he decided that he'd just let Sutter come down the road. Then, after Murray got out, the Chinese came upon the hill and Lewie had orders to guard the rear of the column. We had taken the precaution of putting the tanks at the rear of the column because we were afraid if something happened to a tank it would block the road and it'd be so heavy you couldn't move it. So the tanks were the last elements in the column, and Lewie just assumed the tanks would take care of the rear, and he let Sutter go on down the road. Then the Chinese came down the slopes over the road and they began intermingling with the refugees - there were about 3,000 refugees who were following us out - and the refugees kept coming forward. We kept them back. We didn't allow them to mix in with our column. The Chinese were coming down and there was nothing the tanks could do because on a cut out of the side of the mountain the tanks could either shoot ahead of shoot back, but they couldn't shoot up. The enemy began throwing some grenades and stuff at the tanks, and one of the tank had a brake lock. When you use your brakes a lot they are liable to lock on you. One or two tanks were able to get by this tank with the brake lock, and then I think another one had a brake lock. And the enemy troops were beginning to heave thermite grenades on the tanks and our tankers abandoned two or three of the tanks. We had 50 tanks all told and those tank did not get out.
Finally the elements of the Reconnaissance Company were the last out. They shouldn't have been. Lewie's infantry should have been the last out. When they came across the bridge, Partridge verified that they were the last people and blew the bridge. I guess the refugees just went around over the mountainside. That's how they came on out. We took 100,000 of them out of Hungnam.
Q: Did Partridge get an award for this?
Smith: He got the Legion of Merit. I had quite some difficulty getting a decent citation for him. Headquarters Marine Corps at that time permitted us to issue temporary citations. I got out a temporary citation for the Legion of Merit which explained exactly what he'd done - which was a rather remarkable job. It got back to Headquarters. They rewrote it, and about all they said was that he commanded the Engineer Battalion. At that time I was in Norfolk and I started writing letters. I finally got them to accept my citation for Partridge. He never got promoted though.
But he did a good job for us. He did build that airfield, and he did it under fire. And he had problems there that were terrific. He had to use jackhammers to knock the ice off these pans. Everything froze, you see. He had to weld claws on the blades of his bulldozers in order to bite into this stuff. Then we had these attacks come in while he was building, and the engineers had a part of the perimeter. They had to drop their bulldozers and take their rifles and go and defend. Then when they drove off the Chinese, they went back to building the field. I never told him to take the bridge material to Korea, but he did - it was very fortunate that he did, because we would never have gotten our tanks across the Han River if he hadn't brought out those sections of a 50-ton floating bridge. We made rafts out of that and put the tanks and trucks on the rafts. We talked Adm. Doyle into giving us an LCVP as a power boat, and brought it up on a flat bed and used it to push these rafts back and forth across the Han River. Partridge did that. So he was all right, except he was kind of grouchy. Lewie Puller was the fellow who was always saying the Goddamned division headquarters didn't know what it was talking about. That was his line. We didn't pay any attention to him. Then he came to Division Headquarters and the shoe was on the other foot. He belonged to this dumb headquarters outfit. He was the Assistant Division Commander. His attitude change a little bit. Not an awful lot.
Q: Wasn't it unusual for a lieutenant colonel like Ray Murray to have a regiment.
Smith: Yes, but I didn't change it. He'd done a good job for Erskine. Erskine had made him the commander and I saw no reason to change it. We made him a full colonel when we got to Pohang. He made his number there. I never regretted retaining him as regimental commander. He did a very fine job. (Pause) Well, by the time our people got to Chinhung-ni Gen. Shepherd released Col. Snedeker to me. He'd taken him away from me because I wouldn't get rid of Gregon Williams and put Eddie in as chief of staff. Eddie would have been a fine chief of staff, but I just couldn't use him. So Eddie came back to me and we put him at Chinhung-ni to supervise the routing of the troops as they came off the mountain. There was a railhead down a few miles further south.
Q: At what point did the enemy stop chasing you?
Smith: Below Koto-ri.
Q: Once you got past the bridge.
Smith: Once we got past the bridge - er, well Schmuck had had a tremendous fight getting that high ground below the bridge, but he was up there and the road was open, so once the troops passed the bridge there was nothing to bother them. There were Chinese not too far from the road. The 3rd Division had sent a battalion up to Chinhung-ni to relieve Schmuck so he could attack up the mountain, and they were responsible for the road south of Chinhung-ni, back to - I've forgotten the names but Sudong and so forth. and when Lewie Puller, who was the last fellow out, came down the road to Chinhung-ni they told him the road was open, and he was ambushed down by Sudong and lost some people, and he was pretty hot under the collar for that because the Army was supposed to keep the road clear. But he came on out. He picked up some Army trucks that had been abandoned, so he came out with more equipment than before he was ambushed. They came out partly by train, partly by truck.
At first, the idea of the X Corps was that the 1st Division, because of its amphibious background, would be the last outfit out of Hungnam, that we would defend the final beachheads. Well, somebody saw the light of day down there. We had taken all the casualties of the X Corps. the 7th Division, outside of the two battalions that got messed up at the reservoir, had had no casualties. We have 4-5,000 casualties. And somebody got the word and we were sent out first. Our first mission was to go into assembly area around Hungnam and defend. Then we got the orders to go aboard ship, and it didn't take us long to get out. The 7th Marines came in, and, I think went out the same day. And the next outfit in was the 5th Marines; then the 1st Marines. Finally, by December 13th the entire division has sailed from Hungnam, less the amtracs and some miscellaneous service units that were left behind. The idea was that the 7th Division would take over where we pulled out, and then the 7th Division would go out, and the perimeter would be drawn back closer and closer to Hungnam. the 7th division would pull out. the 3rd Division would take over the beachhead, and then the 3rd Division would begin to pull out by regiments, and then they finally got down to a final battalion. They finally got out of there about Christmas, I think, the last of them.
withdrawal was pretty orderly. At first the X Corps was kind of stampeded and
they began to burn and destroy, but when they found that we were holding up
there and coming out slowly, then they quit burning and went out in an orderly
manner. Some 17,000 vehicles and 100,000 refugees, plus 100,000 troops, came
out from Hungnam. They were never molested by the Chinese. Everything went smoothly.
On the first go around, when they were destroying and burning, the dumps were
just open to anybody and they could get what they wanted. We left our amtrac
battalion down at Hungnam because we couldn't use it up at Chosin Reservoir.
The amtrac battalion took their empty amtracs over and loaded them with field
desks, blankets, everything. We had 30,000 blankets which we never turned back
to X Corps. I eventually gave most of them to the Korean Marines.
Adm. Radford sent Gen. Shepherd in to Hungnam. He was not in command of the evacuation. Adm. Doyle was in command of the evacuation. But Adm. Radford sent Gen. Shepherd out to kind of look over the situation and see if everything was going all right.
Eddie Craig joined me at Hungnam. When had the Brigade they had gone into bivouac at Masan - he was very fond of that place - and he suggested if possible that we recommend to the X Corps that we be allowed to go there to rehabilitate, to get our replacements, and apparently there was no objections. I sent Eddie on down to Masan to get ready for us. We came into Pusan, and went by road from Pusan over to Masan. I tried to get Adm. Doyle to take us around into Masan Harbor, but he wouldn't do it because it would have increased the turnaround time, you see. He couldn't afford to lose that time in getting his LSTs back to evacuate more people.
So we got off at Pusan and went over by truck and we moved into a Japanese barracks area. There were a few little bungalows. I had a bungalow with Eddie Craig, and I forget who else. Maybe Williams was in there, but I've forgotten. The whole division was bivouacked in the Masan area. And, of course we started active patrolling, because at that stage of the game the Army was coming backward and they had these phase line for the purpose. You'd read the Army orders directing the troops to fall back to phase line D, for example, prepared to fall back to phase line umpty-ump, and you didn't know when that was going to stop. While we were at Masan the people from the Army divisions that were up front came down looking for rear CP locations, way down in the south. Then they came down there and laid out defensive setups in the vicinity of Masan. It was a defeated outfit. At Masan we hoped to get some fresh meat and stuff to rehabilitate these men who had been living on C rations and what not up north there. And the Army, of course, promised they'd give us some fresh meat, and I, in order to stir them up, sent a message to the Army, information to Adm. Joy's command, pointing out that these men had come out of a grueling experience and required some fresh meat and what not to get them back in shape. And gosh, Adm. Joy loaded up a ship with turkeys and sent it around to Masan, and at the same time the Army made good on its promise and we had turkey coming out of our ears for a while there. We didn't get much fresh beef, but it was around Christmas and we got all this turkey. So sending that message, information Adm. Joy, worked. He also sent a bunch of Christmas trees with the food. It was on December 16th that I landed at Pusan. The transport that I came down on was the same on that Gen. Cates went into Iwo Jima on. I'll think of it in a minute. Of course, the Mt. McKinley that I went around to Wonsan on stayed for the rest of the evacuation.
On December 26th Gen. Ridgway assumed command of the 8th Army, replacing Gen. Walker who'd been killed on the 23rd in a jeep accident. On January 8th he had me come over to Taegu. He was holding a conference of corps commanders and he wanted to talk to me about the employment of the division. He asked for my comment on a plan that Almond had proposed - sending one regiment of the Division to Andong, which was up north of Pohang; to send this one regiment up to Andong to be attached to the X Corps, and the remainder of the division to go to Pohang. I told Gen. Ridgway I didn't think much of that, that it was just a start of the breaking up of the division, and I was very much concerned as to whether that one regiment I sent up to the X Corps would be put out on a limb. I told him frankly we had been put out on a limb and we'd gotten ourselves off that limb, that we'd lost some confidence in the higher command.
upshot was that he thought it over and he kept us in Army reserve, and sent
us up to Pohang to run down the 10th North Korean Division that had infiltrated
through the lines and was in that whole area north and northwest of Pohang.
We did send Lewie Puller's outfit to Andong, but we sent it out as a part of
the 1st Division. By that time Almond's crowd had moved on north a bit. And
of course we chased that poor north Korean 10th Division all over the place.
We divided the area up into sectors. It was an area about the size of Rhode
Island. We had a sector for each of the infantry regiments. The Korean marines
had rejoined us. We gave them a sector. The artillery without its guns had a
sector. The tanks without their tanks had a sector. And everybody patrolled.
We left it up to the regiments how they patrolled. Litzenberg more or less worked
by battalions. Murray sent out a flock of small patrols all over the place,
and they really patrolled. He lost one patrol. He lost the whole ten of them.
Eventually of course the Army began to want to know when we were going to get through chasing this division around so they could use us for something else. Gen. Ridgway used to come around to the airfield there at Pohang and we'd talk. I'd go out to talk to him. On February 1st he wanted my ideas on the future employment of the division. I wrote a memorandum. I got the staff to work on it. I felt we should try to preserve our amphibious capabilities. I recommended that we remain on the East Coast and attack up the East Coast, so we could come in at various places there and supply ourselves. I turned it in to him. Then, on February 11th, he had a conference. He told me then he appreciated the logic of my statement, but the 1st Marine Division was the most powerful division in the Eighth Army and he wanted to use the division where the threat was greatest, and at that time it appeared greatest in the Han River corridor. that's what we were planning on - that was a good many miles from Pohang. We moved the division up to Pohang on the 18th of January. Then, suddenly, out of a blue sky, on the 12th of February, we got warning orders to go to Chungju.
Chungju was in Central Korea, south of Wonju. I then sent Lewie Puller up. By that time he was ADC, and I sent him to make a survey of Chungju, what we'd do when we got there. We were attached to the IX Corps when we got to Chungju. We were told we were to participate in Operation Killer, which was to jump off on the 21st of February.
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