Colder Than Hell


Joe Owen

Joe Owen

Joseph R. Owen, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) commanded the mortars and a rifle platoon in Baker, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, one of the rifle companies that spearheaded the breakout from the "Chosin Reservoir".

A 1948 graduate of Colgate University, he served on active duty in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946 and from 1948 to1952.

Joe has been active in Baker, 1/7, reunions and has written articles on the company's wartime experiences for the Marine Corps Gazettre and short stories for Leatherneck magazine. Now retired from his own marketing business, he and his wife divide their time between Skaneateles, New York, and Naples, Florida.


Being the webmaster and author of the Chosin Reservoir Web Page, I feel compelled to give a review of Joe Owen's book"Colder Than Hell." It would probably make more sense to let the professional writers and publishers do so, but being a veteran myself of the Chosin Reservoir and after reading Joe's book after so many years have passed, since as young men we survived our time in hell, I feel I can do so with complete honesty and objectiveness.

I could insert the comments made by such noted people as Brig. Gen. Edwin H. Simmons (Director Emeritus, Marine Corps History) or James Brady (The Coldest War) , Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) Author and Historian.

Or maybe reviews from Publishers Weekly, Marine Corps Gazette or Leatherneck Magazine, to name a few.

I could even mention that Colder Than Hell is used as textbook at West Point and Officer Training at Quantico, and -- interestingly -- some civilian colleges.

Most of us, after reading books related to wars and conflicts, remember also, the movies we have seen on the big screen in theaters and on Television, wonder if the author of a particular book about the horrors of war have embellished or taken liberties with the facts to make the book more appealing and marketable.

In the Book "Colder Than Hell", this most certainly does not happen. Joe relates his experiences at Chosin and about the unit he was with and the men that depended on him with the utmost honesty and integrity.

He relates times he made mistakes and brought the wrath of his Company Commader down upon him in such a way that the reader knows he is human and makes the same mistakes we do at times and gets reprimanded for it. He doesn't try to defend his position or make light of his mistakes.

You can feel his suffering, his pain, his laughter (very rare) and his longings for his family.

I close this non-professional review by saying, if you haven't read the book, get it and read it. If you have, read it once again.

This book is not for the do-gooders in our world nor is it for the faint of heart. Nor is it a textbook for in-training mercenaries.

It is a true accounting of one mans experience's that brings out the truest horrors men faced in the Coldest of places while fighting a enemy that was dedicated and ordered to completly annialate the 1st Marine Division and all its' supporting units to the man.

Bob Carr

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