Short Bits

Page 215

1. Unification

Michael Slauta, Special Observer for The Quartermaster General. (From a speech, 16 November 1950.)

On the working level in the combat zone there are no unification problems. If two units from different services are together in an area for a time, you soon find they are wearing the same uniform—the uniform that was available in quantity sufficient to supply all. That goes for food and all other supplies. Eventually there will be standardization for all items and all forces in Korea, with perhaps the exception of the rum ration which the British demand.

2. How to Get Lit Up

Lt.Col. Olin T. Hinkey, Finance Officer, 3d Infantry Division

I consider that light and power were my major problem in Korea. It was solved by the Army custom of swapping some beer and whiskey to an engineer unit for a surplus generator. Repairs were made on the same basis. Without that generator normal operations could not have been maintained.

3. Speedy Refueling

Capt. Douglas O. Kennedy, 425th Traffic Regulating Group. (Interview by Capt. B. C. Mossman, 6th Historical Detach meet.)

On 22 March 1951 the 425th Traffic Regulating Group was directed to handle a refueling and regulating point for elements of the

Page 216

187th Airborne RCT moving north by land. To handle the refueling, we placed signs to indicate the interval between trucks when they halted. Five-gallon gas cans were stored at intervals alongside the road and an entire serial of fifteen trucks could be refueled at once. Each serial was under way within five minutes. In thirteen hours five hundred trucks were refueled.

4. What's the Score?

Capt. George R. Spreng, Korean Military Advisory Group

Korean engineers were the finest of the ROK troops. They had higher educational standards than the Army in general, and the selection was careful. Almost all of the enlisted and NCO personnel had some formal education. Like the American soldier, they asked many questions and worked best when they were told the exact situation. They needed a great deal of supervision, but they did well when given good leadership.

5. Loading in Flight

Capt. Homer W. Johnston, 8192d Helicopter Unit. (Interview by Lt. John Mewha, 8th Historical Detachment.)

On 14 August 1951 Capt. Homer W. Johnston, 8192d Helicopter Unit, received a message to evacuate two wounded men from the high ground east of the Punchbowl. It took him twenty minutes to fly from the 8224th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital to the French sector. As he circled the designated landing area, Captain Johnston noted that the area was small and slanted. He hovered down to test it.

The landing area was a pronounced slope that would cause the helicopter either to slip down the hill or topple over. To keep the copter upright, Captain Johnson kept the power on and tipped the craft slightly toward the crest. He was actually semi-flying while the patients were strapped on the carrying platforms.

As soon as the wounded men were ready, Johnston raised the helicopter vertically, scraping the right bunker as he did so. He dropped

Page 217

down the reverse slope until his craft reached the necessary climbing speed. Then he returned to the hospital.

6. VHF Ship to Shore

Lt. Robert T. O'Brien, 7th Signal Company

When the 7th Infantry Division's turn came to be evacuated from the Hungnam area, we began to set up special communications to expedite the movement. From others we learned that we could use AN/TRC-3 (very high frequency) radio sets for ship-to-shore communication. On the ship that was to carry the division's CP we set up an AN/TRC-3, but instead of using the directional antenna we substituted a whip antenna. This was necessary to keep our antennas aligned as the ship shifted with wind and tide. The expedient could only have worked over short distances, but it was satisfactory here.

7. Rescuing Wounded by Tank

Army Field Forces Training Bulletin No. 8, 16 November 1951

An instance has been reported of an infantryman being wounded and subsequently killed because he was unaware he could be pulled to safety through the escape hatch of a tank. He was lying wounded in the road, and efforts of the medics to get to him were ineffective. A tank commander moved his tank forward to straddle the man and get him into the tank. The wounded man misunderstood the intent of the commander, fearing he was to be run over, and kept crawling ahead of the tank. The enemy finally noticed the movement of the wounded man, and killed him. A set of signals or prearranged plans worked out between infantry and tank-platoon leaders and passed down to all troops may save lives in the future.

8. Time for Reflection

Lt.Col. John E. Harbert, 314th Ordnance Ammunition Group

The ordnance officer charged with getting ammunition forward has great problems of time, space, communication, and transporta-

Page 218

tion. As commander of the 314th Ordnance Ammunition Group, I had over ten thousand square miles of Korea to cover in inspecting operations and troops. My units worked both laterally and vertically along the entire front of Eighth Army.

One must realize that army ammunition troops provide the only ammunition supply services to the combat trains of the using units. Unlike any other type of supply service, there is no counterpart organic to a corps or a division. This led to many problems involving command control and operational proficiency.

I tried many times to have a light plane assigned to me, but this was never allowed by higher headquarters. I spent well over half my time traveling from ammunition supply point to ammunition supply point over Korea's rough roads. Traveling like this had one value, however. I had plenty of time in which to contemplate my problems and to make decisions.

9. 5-in-1 Mule Ration

Sgt. David J. Fox, Radio and Message Center Company, l0lst Signal Operation Battalion. (Interview by Capt. Pierce W. Briscoe, 2d Historical Detachment.)

The Chinese Communists used pack mules in their 1951 spring offensive. When the United Nations forces counterattacked, many of these mules were abandoned or escaped. Left to forage on the rice paddies and mountain slopes, they soon became thin and sickly.

The Radio Relay Platoon, 101st Signal Operation Battalion, gathered six of these mules for use in packing equipment up the mountains. The mules were fed candy, sugar, and cereal from 5-in-1 rations. After a short time the mules were fattened and resumed their burdensome life.

10. You've Got to Follow Through

Major Richard I. Crawford, Korean Military Advisory Group

The average ROK officer and soldier had received demolitions training—including how to calculate, prepare, and place charges. But they had had very little of the theory of defensive demolitions.

Before the Communist invasion, ROK engineers had packaged charges for the demolition of key bridges and roads in a zone forty miles south of the 38th parallel. We had held practice alerts, moved the

Page 219

demolitions to their sites, and prepared each site for demolition with gratifying success. However, we had not impressed the Koreans sufficiently with the importance of timely detonation and defense of their newly created obstacles. When combat came, trigger-happy individuals ordered key bridges blown before our vehicles had been cleared; on a few occasions the enemy made a flanking movement with small bands and killed the demolitions squad before the fuze was lighted. In at least six cases the tactical commander ordered that the bridge not be blown because he wanted to "counterattack over that route." In no case did such a counterattack ensue. Few, if any, of the obstacles created were defended. There was a great tendency for combat troops to fall well behind a blown but undefended obstacle to eat their rice, to sleep, or to regroup. That was fatal.

11. Recaptured American Wire

Capt. Rudolph A. Fallon, 5th Cavalry

In October 1950, the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry (for which I was communications officer), overran a North Korean signal dump. In it we found about thirty miles of single-conductor (strand) wire. We were particularly interested in this wire because obviously it was American-made W-110. We deduced this from the fact that it was the familiar four-copper, three-steel strands. Though the twisted pair had been separated and each strand individually rolled, the spiral marks where another strand had gone around and around were still plainly visible. Each roll of wire was wrapped in burlap and marked in what appeared to be Russian.

We were short of wire at this time, so we picked up the abandoned rolls on DR-4s and -5s. We often used the captured wire by rolling out two lines. However, ground return was used successfully by our artillery liaison officer. In one instance north of Kunu-ri, we laid about four hundred yards of single-strand wire along a railroad, using the rail for the return.

12. Intrenching Tools

Lt.Col. Arnold C. Gilliam, Quartermaster, Id Infantry Division

During the winter of 1950-S1, intrenching tools were discarded by combat units while they were actually engaged with the enemy. The

Page 220

reason was that the ground was frozen and the tools could not be used. The quartermaster of the Id Infantry Division did not become aware that these tools had been abandoned until the spring of 1951, when the ground began to thaw. Commanders then wanted replacement intrenching tools as rapidly as possible. But the number of replacement requests on this item was too great for the depot at Pusan to fill. It was necessary to airlift them from Japan. Unfortunately, this used air space vitally needed for gasoline and ammunition.

13. Bridge Assembly on land

Major Carl A. Pollock, Liaison Officer to the Turkish Brigade

On the day before an assault crossing, we supplied the Turks with 340 feet of M38 infantry foot-bridging and instructions for its assembly. The crossing site was under heavy artillery and mortar fire. The Turkish engineer commander decided it would cost many lives to have his men work in the open, so he had the bridge assembled behind a small crest—150 yards from the river's edge. Once the bridge was assembled, several hundred troops picked it up and hand-carried it to the water's edge. During the carry, the bridge broke several times, whereupon everyone lowered it. When it was put back together, all lifted and moved on.

The bridge was put into the river at a 35- to 45-degree angle in the same direction as the current. At this angle it did not reach the opposite shore, but the men walked its length and jumped into the water to pull on ropes and bring the bridge astride the current. It was a smooth operation, quickly executed.

14. A Dilemma

Capt. George W. Spreng, Korean Military Advisory Group

During the offensive into North Korea the ROKs had few trucks with which to supply their divisions. To solve this problem my division commander ordered me to establish a railroad operating section in our engineer battalion. This put me in a command dilemma, for the U.S. authorities had ordered all locomotives and rolling stock returned to Hamhung. I was caught between the ROK decision to use the trains and the U.S. decision to move them back.

All KMAG advisers were hampered by the U.S. decision "to advise only" and stay away from command. This seemed impossible to me, and

Page 221

by agreement with the South Koreans I actually ordered people to carry out tasks.

But now I was faced with a direct order by the U.S. officials to countermand the order of an ROK division commander. I took refuge in my advisory capacity and suggested that these orders be sent through channels. I don't know that this was done. We did release a few trains for appearances' sake, but we kept eight complete trains for ourselves.

15. Integration

Lt.Col. Homer P. Harris, Quartermaster, 2d Infantry Division

I especially want to note that the 15th Quartermaster Company was integrated and that at least a third of my men were Negroes. I believe these were my best men. They held more than their share of the NCO ratings. They did skilled jobs. They knew they were getting a break on rotation points and were not being discriminated against in any way. They were good soldiers.

16. Broken Springs

Major John C. Bell, 13th Engineer Combat Battalion

There were times when we had as many as Is of our Sl trucks deadlined—all for broken front springs. The breakage was so far from the normal expectancy that Ordnance was rarely able to supply these springs.

Most frequently the break occurred in one of the two bottom (long) leaves. The mechanics soon became adept at rebuilding front springs by throwing out a bad leaf and combining the rest of this spring with parts of another to make one good spring. If the breakage had been evenly distributed among the leaves, there would have been little trouble.

17. Language Problems

Capt. Robert F. Doolin, Korean Military Advisory Group

A frequent failing in ROK commanders was their refusal to use a common language. All Korean officers could speak both Korean and Japa

Page 221

nese. But the use of Chinese was the sign of a good education. Consequently, an officer who understood Chinese would write his messages in that language and have them translated so they could be understood by the radio operators. At the other end the message was again rendered into Chinese before it was delivered.

18. Fire in the Hole!

Lt. William A. Champion, Lt. Charles H. Crossley, Lt. Weldon M. Gamel, and Lt. James E. Hunter, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion. (From interviews by Lt. John Mewha, 8th Historical Detachment.)

Company C, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, sent the remainder of its demolition men to work on a pass in an access road. They progressed through the rocky sections at about a hundred feet a day, using a daily average of two thousand pounds of explosives. Every type of explosive charge available to the Corps of Engineers was used. Each time the demolition men finished blasting, from six to twenty rounds of enemy 82-mm mortar or 76-mm artillery fire hit the blasting site. For several days the men were able to blast only twice daily. The charges were placed in the morning with five- to ten-minute fuzes. As the men moved off the pass for lunch, they detonated the explosives. During the afternoon they cleared the debris and set more charges. As they withdrew for the night they blasted again. In this way they were able to avoid the enemy fire and proceed with their work.

19. Combat Boots

Lt.Col. Arnold C. Gilliam, Quartermaster, 2d Infantry Division

Some time before the Korean action, the new russet boot was adopted to replace the combat boot. As stocks of the combat boot in any size became exhausted, substitution of the new type boot was authorized.

News travels fast. Soon men requested sizes that did not fit so they would be equipped with the russet boot. The quartermaster of Eighth Army (Col. James M. Lamont) stated that, although he had exceeded the normal replacement factor by 269 per cent, the demand for boots continued high. It was apparent that many men had thrown away their combat boots in order to get the new type.

Page 223

At an inspection of one regiment it was found that more than half the men equipped with the russet boot were wearing the wrong size. It was necessary to airlift foot-measuring devices so that commanders could be sure their men were wearing the proper footwear.

20. Need for Trained Personnel

Michael Slauta, Special Observer for The Quartermaster General. (From a speech, 16 November 1950.)

Handling supplies at the Pusan port was quite difficult at the start. It wasn't because we didn't know how to handle supplies; the personnel to handle them in quantity were not there.

The quartermaster section operated with a staff of six officers and a platoon of men. We had to depend on indigenous labor. The piers were soon piled high with unsegregated cargo. Loose cans filled a large warehouse. The problem did not diminish until service troops arrived.

21. Division Airdrop

Command Report, 23d Infantry, October 1951

Airdrops by liaison aircraft are successful only when the pilot knows where the target is located and dares to take his plane close enough and low enough to insure that most of the cargo will reach its destination. The airdrops in support of the 23d RCT consisted mainly of rations, water, fruit juices, and medical supplies (especially blood plasma). These drops were excellent, and there was at least 75 per cent recovery.

22. Who Wants to Serve in the Rear?

WO John Kinnaman, Jr., Finance Section, 1st Cavalry Division

A major problem in Korea was the lack of trained replacements. During the first six months we received only one trained finance man. Our main source of replacements were re-profiled front-line men, sole surviving sons, and men in similar categories. At the same time, a check

Page 224

of the military pay records indicated that several finance school graduates were serving in front-line units as riflemen. After much discussion with G1 and unit personnel officers, we finally managed to get some of these men out of the front line and into our section.

We often operated by candle light in bombed-out buildings that had little heat. Our workday started immediately after breakfast and often extended to midnight. Because of the continuous moving of the bulky equipment, our men had to assume the triple role of finance clerks, stevedores, and guards. As a result of these working conditions, we received many requests for transfers to combat units. We had to deny them for the good of the service.

23. The Sagging Bridge

Lt. William A. Champion, Lt. Charles H. Crossley, Lt. Weldon M. Gamel, and Lt. James E. Hunter, Id Engineer Combat Battalion. (From interviews by Lt. John Mewha, 8th Historical Detachment.)

About 12 August 1951, Company C, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, began constructing a Bailey bridge near the site of a washedout wooden bridge. The need for the bridge was so great that it was begun before enough parts had been assembled for it. It was necessary to launch the 80-foot span single-single (one panel wide and one panel high on each side of the treadway) instead of a double-single. After the single-single was across, the bridge sagged, and had to be made double single. To compensate for the sag in the alignment of the pins of the outside panels, a D7 bulldozer was driven into the middle of the stream and jacks were placed on its A-frame. By jacking one side at a time, the bridge was brought into alignment. It took three days and two nights to construct the bridge.

24. Carelessness is Expensive

Lt.Col. Clifford E. Roberts, Signal Officer, 7th Infantry Division

Service detachments of the 7th Infantry Division moved together from Seoul to Inchon in October 1950. A convoy moving along the mountainous route in central South Korea was ambushed by the

Page 225

enemy at 0200 one morning in a defile. The lead vehicle was hit and blocked the road.

The signal detachment had an SCR-193 radio, mounted in a jeep, which could be used to request assistance for the convoy. However, when an attempt was made to put the set on the air, the antenna would not load properly. For hours, the men made frantic attempts in the dark to get the transmitter into operation, but with no success.

When daylight came, it was found that the antenna terminal on the set was broken. Investigation revealed two important facts. First, the radio was a spare set and had not been operated recently. Second, the faulty antenna condition had existed before this operation.

Five hours and several lives were lost because of this carelessness.

25. Patrol Evacuation

Capt. Arne H. Eliasson, 8192d Helicopter Unit. (Interview by Lt. John Mewha, 8th Historical Detachment.)

On 18 August 1951 the 23d Infantry (2d Infantry Division) had a platoon-sized patrol in the Punchbowl area. Mortar fire struck the patrol and a number of men were killed and others wounded. The patrol immediately withdrew with its wounded and dead and notified the battalion surgeon. He called for two helicopters to aid in the evacuation.

The Punchbowl is a fairly level valley surrounded on all sides by mountains. Without helicopters it would be necessary to carry the casualties up the hills before they could be evacuated.

Twenty minutes after the call, Capt. Arne H. Eliasson was over the area. The patrol was withdrawing in single file. The men didn't have time to place the regular landing mark, but they had placed a panel in a nearby rice paddy.

Two wounded men had just been strapped to the stretcher platforms when several 60-mm mortar rounds landed fifty yards away. The infantry immediately scattered and Captain Eliasson flew the craft away. Later that day six calls came from the same area, and twelve men from the patrol were evacuated.

Page 226

26. Problems of Sizing

Michael Slauta, Special Observer for The Quartermaster General. (From a speech, 16 November 1950.)

We had a considerable problem in issuing clothing and shoes to the South Koreans integrated into our ranks. They are very small people, standing only 64 or 65 inches, and are quite slender. Fortunately, they don't pay as much attention to size as we do. So long as an item was wearable, they would accept it and then trim it down.

Footwear, however, was another problem. During the summer and fall of 1950 we were issuing all our footwear smaller than 6-1/2 to ROK soldiers. There were some complaints on the fitting, so we ran a survey to see where we were going wrong. We found that 71 per cent of the ROKs have supplementary tariff size feet. The mean size was 6 EE; the smallest ran down to 3-1/2 EEEE; and the largest to 10-1/2 EEE.

27. Wire Recovery

Capt. Robert F. Doolin, Korean Military Advisory Group

The Koreans did not always understand our signal doctrine—or agree with it. Sometimes this made little difference. At other times the results were ludicrous. One ROK peculiarity was the refusal to use drums in the recovery of wire. Instead, a soldier would walk a wire accompanied by a cart. He would coil the wire around his bent arm as one does a rope. After he had as much as he could conveniently carry, he would cut the wire, carefully tie the coil, and place it in the cart. He would then repeat this operation until the entire length of wire was picked up. When he returned to his unit he would carefully splice the wire and rewind it on a reel. We just couldn't stop that practice.

28. Supply Guesstimates

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infantry Division

We didn't know what enemy resistance to expect at Inchon since this was to be the first offensive against the enemy. I had to reach

Page 227

into space for many of my estimates. I loaded rations enough for thirty days. Anticipating that water might be short until we captured Inchon, I included thirty gallons of water per man. On pure guess I included burial supplies for five thousand, and three loads of insecticides.

The quantity of supplies we carried may sound excessive in some cases. Actually, it wasn't. Although the division loaded them, the supplies were not to be unloaded while the battle was in balance. Initially we would have no supply base to turn to, but I anticipated that many nondivisional units would call on us for supplies. In this I was correct, for an ROK marine regiment was attached to us south of Seoul.

Our supplies, then, constituted the stock for the initial operation, and a beginning stock for 2d Logistical Command which was to come. Actually, the 7th Division did not meet an Eighth Army forward supply point until January 1951.

29. For Want of a Nail

Major Carl A. Pollock, Liaison Officer to the Turkish Brigade

The Turks are excellent in improvising when they lack a critical item. I recall one instance where they were building a bridge and did not have enough nails for the job. Their solution was to drill holes and insert wooden pegs. In the United States, hand doweling is used only in cabinet work.

30. Infantry Division Port

Lt.Col. Arnold C. Gilliam, Quartermaster, 2d Infantry Division

After the 2d Infantry Division crossed the 38th parallel we established a supply point at Sariwon. Trucks hauled supplies more than a hundred miles north of Ascom City. The main supply road was a second-rate road used by several other divisions. Because of the pressure, only class I and class III supplies could be moved.

At this time I learned that we could receive shipments directly from the sea if we could operate the port at Haeju. I moved to Haeju

Page 228

with Capt. Fred J. Tennant and a small detachment. Using prisoner-of-war labor, we unloaded one LST and several Japanese cargo vessels.

Supplies from Haeju were moved north to Sariwon over a narrow-gauge railroad. The smallness of the cars slowed the operation. We could load only 50 drums of gasoline in a car instead of the normal 150. As we were now in enemy territory, we placed two guards in the cab of each locomotive to be sure the Communist engineer moved his train to Sariwon. This operation relieved the pressure on the truck route.

31. Roadbound

Lt.Col. Ernest W. Chapman, Engineer Section, X Corps

I would say that our over-all concept of operations makes us roadbound to such an extent as to be dangerous. For example, we look at a road on a map and decide we cannot move a force over it. Yet in the next breath we concern ourselves with the possibility that the enemy will use the same road against us—which often happens.

32. Helmets for the 38th Infantry

Lt.Col. Arnold C. Gilliam, Quartermaster, 3d Infantry Division

In January 1951, I made a routine visit to the 38th Infantry (3d Infantry Division) near Andong. I asked the regimental commander (Col. George B. Peploe) if he had any quartermaster problem. He stated that there was one problem about which he was greatly concerned. Less than two weeks had passed since he had been assured that every man would be equipped with a steel helmet. Now his S4 advised him that the regiment needed 350 helmets. During this period the 38th had been engaged only in minor patrol actions.

I told Colonel Peploe I could take care of his requirements. He thanked me and said that stern disciplinary action would be taken against any man who, in the future, was caught without a helmet.

During the next month I again visited the 38th Infantry. The regiment had been engaged in heavy combat and there had been heavy losses

Page 229

of equipment in several companies. Nevertheless, the shortage of steel helmets was so small that only a few replacements were needed.

33. Camera Patrol

Lt. Robert T. O'Brien, 7th Signal Company

The 7th Infantry Division was the only major unit to reach the Yalu River. We realized that we were very much exposed that far north, so we paid particular attention to combat intelligence. The civilians provided us with many rumors of enemy units between us and Hagaru-ri. To ignore any of these might have been dangerous, but to check them all by patrol would have been impossible.

Instead, the division G2 had our photo section make aerial photos of each suspected area and areas where enemy strongpoints might logically develop. These sorties were flown twice daily and the prints delivered to G2 within two hours. Comparisons gave the division a good indication of what was going on.

34. Security Through a Swap

Capt. John M. McGuire, 1st Mobile Army Surgical Hospital

Although medical personnel had not been armed before our entry into Korea, by the time we left North Korea in late 1950 all our medics were armed with the carbine or the M1 rifle. Some of us thought this was a violation of the Geneva Convention, but we learned later that the Convention does not prohibit the arming of medical troops for the protection of their patients and themselves. Nurses were the only medical personnel who were not armed.

In February 1951, while four miles outside Andong, we felt that the possibility of an ambush was strong because enemy guerrillas were very active in the region. As our hospital was located within several hundred yards of two potential military targets—a main supply road and a railroad tunnel—we figured we were sitting ducks.

We felt that our individual weapons did not offer adequate fire power to protect us in an attack. Therefore, we exchanged some medic-

Page 230

inal alcohol for ten automatic rifles from a division ordnance company. Needless to say, both units felt each had received the better bargain.

35. Flame-Thrower Tanks

Lt.Col. William C. Hammond, Jr., Chemical Officer, I Corps

It has been a hard job to sell the flame thrower to the armor people, but after they used it a while they became quite enthusiastic. The enemy fears fire. Recently, a tank went into a valley and fired one burst of flame. For a distance of a thousand yards all the enemy ducked down into their holes and stopped firing—including those way up on the sides of hills whom we could not possibly have reached. The psychological factor was tremendous.

36. Pick Your Method

Major Carl A. Pollock, Liaison Officer to the Turkish Brigade

The Turks did not always use methods that are part of our doctrine. They had with them American, German, and Soviet field and technical manuals in addition to their own. I gathered that their manuals were pretty much a synthesis of all of these. The Turks certainly were not doctrinaire in their methods.

37. Preparation for Action

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infantry Division

As soon as the 7th Infantry Division had closed in the Fuji area, the process of requisitioning equipment and bringing the division to wartime allowances was begun. Unfortunately, there just weren't enough supplies in Japan. The occupation divisions had been maintained at reduced strength and only a minimum of field training had been possible. Stock levels in the Far East Command had been related to both strength and losses, so there was little theater reserve of such items as mess kits, barber sets, and stove parts. The outfitting of the first three divisions

Page 231

for Korea had absorbed that reserve. The barrel was scraped clean before we got to Fuji. When we requisitioned carpenter sets, we first got the box the set comes in; then, from time to time, we received shipments of loose tools. Our requests for mess kits brought us a shipment of mess trays as substitutes.

38. Borrowing a Bridge

Lt.Col. James E. Linden, 14th Engineer Combat Battalion

The Kumho River appears as a small stream on a map, but it was wide and definitely unfordable in September 1950. As the attack progressed the 1st Cavalry Division built a 13-ton infantry support bridge across it. For the heavier traffic the division attempted a causeway of sandbags. This washed out as fast as the sandbags were placed.

The 24th Infantry Division faced a better prospect for its crossing of the Naktong River, as I Corps had attached to it a class 50 treadway bridge. A small margin of time existed before it was necessary to erect the class 50 bridge over the Naktong, and the 1st Cavalry Division borrowed the structure for its crossing of the Kumho.

The bridge over the Kumho River was 300 feet long and took four hours to erect. It carried critical supplies for twelve hours, then was dismantled and returned. So vital was the bridge in the plans of the 24th Division that the assistant division commander personally waited at the bridge to see that it was dismantled in time to be returned to the 24th Division. The treadway bridge was removed at 2300, and the next morning at 0600 the 14th Engineer Combat Battalion opened a fixed-span M2 treadway bridge across the Kumho.

39. Why Pay the Combat Soldier?

WO John Kinnaman, Jr., Finance Section, 1st Cavalry Division

It was intended that unit personnel officers screen their units to determine what portion of his pay each soldier desired. It soon became apparent that this was not being done, however, for turnbacks often totaled 75 per cent. Many men had no need or desire for their money.

I recommend that personnel in combat units not be paid until their departure from Korea. I suggest a gratuitous issue of ten dollars a month

Page 232

to cover cost of laundry and PX items. This program would cost about two million dollars a month. Since soldiers in the combat zone are given free cigarettes, beer, soft drinks, and candy, I feel that this expense is not out of line with Army policy. Furthermore, the cost will be more than compensated by the savings.

Savings and benefits will occur in many ways. Nonpayment would prevent military pay certificates from falling into enemy hands. The increased use of allotments would reduce the necessity for payment— and finance personnel. Limitation of money in the hands of troops would reduce the free spending that has been so damaging to the economy of the Republic of Korea. It is to be noted that the exchange rate on the ROK Zion rose from 1,800 to 6,000 to the U.S. dollar in the eleven months I was in Korea. To a large extent this was due to soldier spending.

40. Wire Cutters Caught

The army Combat Forces Journal? February 1952

A wire "trouble" team usually fixes broken telephone wires. This crew also fixed some Communists.

When a recent trouble call was answered, wire men from the 25th Infantry Division in Korea found a break in the line and repaired it. Calling back to the switchboard was fine, but a call forward indicated another broken line.

As the men moved up the line and were about to advance over a ridge, they discovered the cause of their broken lines—eighteen Communists busily cutting the wire.

A quick call for reinforcements resulted in the capture of the wire spoilers and a return to trouble-free circuits.

41. What Do You Feed a Korean?

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infantry Division

Three weeks before the 7th Infantry Division shipped to Inchon, we received an augmentation of 8,600 Koreans. Before they arrived our division commander (Maj.Gen. David G. Barr) asked me, "What do you plan to feed these men?"

I countered, "How do you plan to use them?"

Page 233

After some consideration he replied that the buddy system would probably work best. On that basis I recommended that we feed the Koreans regular U.S. rations, and make adjustments as we got complaints. I didn't believe it would be possible to set up a dual ration system within the units.

42. Redesigning a Bridge

Capt. Francis S. Obradovich, 185th Engineer Combat Battalion, and Lt. George W. Brazier, Jr., 8224th Engineer Construction Group. (Condensed from interviews by Lt. Bevan R. Alexander, 5th Historical Detachment.)

The bridge over the Soyang River was well under way. The south abutment and the north approach road were complete and forty-one piles had been driven. On 24 April 1951, however, the engineers learned that the enemy offensive would bring a halt to their project. They began to evacuate the engineer equipment.

To hide as much of the progress on the bridge as possible, all the unused piling was buried. The south abutment was completely camouflaged to make it appear that the work on it had only just begun. The piling that had already been driven into the river bed was left in place because nothing could be done with it.

When the enemy offensive was halted, the UN forces counterattacked and reached the Soyang River approximately a month after the engineers had pulled out. The infantry reported that something had happened to the piles of the bridge. The message was vague. A construction officer flew to the bridge site and found that the Chinese had chopped the piles off at the water level.

The Chinese had used the chopped-off piles to build a low bridge about two hundred yards from our bridge site. The camouflaged abutment and the buried pile bents had escaped enemy observation, however, and had not been bothered. But the cut-off piles forced a redesign of our bridge.

43. Infantry Replacements

Capt. Fred J. Tennant, 2d Quartermaster Company

The 2d Infantry Division entered Korea on 31 July 1950 and went into action immediately. The infantry regiments had high casu

Page 234

alty rates in their fighting, and without replacements the infantry strength became dangerously low.

Here we learned that every man has to be a soldier. Division ordered all service units to transfer 10 per cent of their strength to the infantry. Some of our men had previous infantry experience, most had not. Often the men we transferred went into an attack two hours after joining the new unit. We gave the infantry good men—the enemy was too close to send out any 8-balls.

44. Eager Beaver

Col. Thomas A. Pitcher, Signal Officer, Eighth Army

One of the best cable splicers to work on the Mukden cable was Sergeant Van Atta of the 532d Signal Construction Company. Not only was he thoroughly proficient, but he was always anxious to get his job done. He carried his enthusiasm so far that, so long as the cable ran there, it seemed to make little difference to him whether or not we had captured an area.

Equal in zeal to Van Atta were the wire crews of the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Communications. They seemed to give allegiance to neither side in the struggle. Their interest and loyalty was to the cable. When it went bad they fixed it—regardless of whose territory it was in.

A strong bond developed between Van Atta and the Koreans. Once, north of Seoul, Van Atta went ahead of the infantry into enemy territory to get started on the cable. He was surrounded by Korean civilians and communications men. Suddenly several North Korean soldiers came on the scene and, seeing an American soldier, asked the civilians why an enemy soldier was here.

The communications men replied: "He's a prisoner. We're using him to repair the cable."

The enemy soldiers moved on.

45. Icebreaker, M1

Condensed from "Expedient River Ice Removal Practice," by Major Vernon L. Watkins and Lt. George W. Brazier, in Engineer Lessons Learned in Korea, June 1951.

Along with the rise in the Han River waters came floating ice. Combined, these forces of Nature destroyed all the bridges over the

Page 233

Han in the X Corps zone except for a 300-foot timber structure near Chungju.

The floating ice varied from small bits to 40-foot sheets, and from 2 to 14 inches thick. It became apparent that the Chungju bridge would also fail if the ice could not pass. Already, clogging ice had raised the upstream water level 42 inches.

Demolition crews were unable to dislodge the mounting ice, and men with steel bars, tent poles, and native timbers were too slow. As the river continued to rise, the bridge began to fail. In desperation the engineers turned to any expedient, including one that had been discussed earlier and passed over. Engineers fired M1 rifles directly at the jammed ice. Results were gratifying. A single fracture often broke the ice mass and allowed the fragments to flow under the bridge.

Throughout the night of 22 February 1951 and the next morning, squads of riflemen protected the structure, but subsequent rises in the river allowed water to flow over the treadway and forced the engineers from the bridge. Unattended, the ice clogged all openings and some of the larger sheets extended over the deck. The bridge failed.

Quick thinking and the use of an expedient had extended the life of the structure twenty-four hours. This was sufficient to permit the repair of alternate routes.

46. Curtailing the Money Black Market

Lt. Donald J. Horan, Finance Office, 2d Logistical Command

The main problem which arose in this rear area was the illegal trafficking in military payment certificates between members of the United Nations forces and Korean nationals. Within the means of the finance section~we could practically wipe out this black market activity by making exchange readily available without any waiting.

We found that two cashiers could adequately handle the sale of turn, which amounted to approximately thirty thousand dollars a day, provided they did not have to count the currency. Four Korean girls, money counters for the Bank of Korea, were used to count out the Korean currency in five- and ten-dollar stacks. Being more proficient than U.S. personnel at counting Korean money, their employment speeded up the counting and they proved far more accurate.

Page 236

47. Temperature Adjustment

Michael Slauta, Special Observer for The Quartermaster General. (From a speech, 16 November 1950.)

The reaction of troops from tropical countries to wet-cold climate is unfavorable. When the Filipinos arrived in Korea on a September night, the temperature was a very comfortable 65 degrees. But the Filipinos felt cold. They were actually "freezing" and, before they moved away from the train, they had broken into their packs and had blankets draped over their shoulders. Before two days passed we had to issue them winter clothing.

48. Shortage of Spare Parts

Lt.Col. William C Hammond, Jr., Chemical Officer, I Corps

We suffered all through the campaign from a lack of spare parts. I do not mean that the Chemical Corps is remiss; I mean that all spare parts are short. Korea is brutal on all types of mechanized equipment. It's because of rough roads and dust. The dust over here is terrific. It is highly abrasive—just like the dust we encountered at Salerno. The World War II replacement factor should be doubled, or even tripled.

49. Iead-in Wire

Sgt. Gene C. DeMont, 2d Medical Battalion

Around 15 September 1950 I was serving as advanced radio operator with the 2d Medical Battalion (2d Infantry Division) at Yongsan. The infantry was having a rough fight and we had a number of serious casualties in our clearing platoon in need of immediate evacuation. We were rapidly running out of medical supplies.

I was operating an old AN/GRC-9 radio with a whip antenna. I should have been able to get a range of forty-five miles, even in this rough country. The medical battalion was at Miryang—only thirteen

Page 237

miles away—and I could not reach them. I tried for an hour without success.

While I was trying to get the message through, a radio operator from the 2d Quartermaster Company came along. He looked at the lead-in wire between the radio and the antenna, and told me the wire was losing a great deal of power from radiation. He suggested I make a lead-in of coaxial cable—and even provided a short piece of it.

I made the lead-in and tried calling Miryang. I got them on the first call. Their signal was weak but readable. In turn, they read me strong.

I sent my message requesting supplies and asking for helicopter evacuation of the serious cases. Fortunately, the radio crew was located at a mobile army surgical hospital and a helicopter was available. The first flight reached us within twenty minutes of my message.

50. Feeding Koreans

Michael Slauta, Special Observer for The Quartermaster General. (From a speech, 16 November 1952.)

When Koreans first try the American diet they tend to overeat, and become ill. You could see the Koreans going through a mess line for a well-liked cup of coffee. They would fill the canteen cup quarter full of sugar and the remainder with coffee.

We began to control the amounts of food the Koreans could have. After they became accustomed to our rations they relished them.

51. Convoy Troubles

Lt.Col. Arnold C. Gilliam, Quartermaster, 2d Infantry Division

The haul from Masan to Chongju and back was 460 miles, and the turnaround took approximately 36 hours. Ten bridges were out and several rivers had to be forded. Guerrillas and bypassed enemy units attacked our convoys. One truck returned with nine bullet holes in its windshield and an unscathed driver.

We noticed that the guerrillas picked on the rear vehicle in each convoy, so we moved the convoy commander's jeep up from that position and placed a 2-1/2-ton truck in the rear. Then we rear-mounted

Page 238

a caliber .50 machine gun and stationed a gunner to return the fire. We had no more trouble with guerrillas.

52. Hot Food

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infantry Division

In the landings of the 7th Infantry Division at Inchon, I was particularly impressed by the speed with which food was brought forward. Each soldier carried a full C ration, but few used it. The kitchen trucks were among the first vehicles unloaded. Within hours of our landing most of the kitchens ashore were serving hot meals. Some of the messes even served hot rolls.

53. Never Put Off Till To-Morrow . . .

Major Edward Pooley, 25th Signal Company

The 24th Infantry (25th Infantry Division) was on field maneuvers in Japan in June 1950. During the last few days of the maneuver it rained constantly, and most of its signal equipment got thoroughly wet. At the close of the maneuver this equipment was loaded on vehicles and returned to the home station without being dried and cleaned. It was supposed this delay would not damage the equipment.

When the regiment arrived at its home station it was sent directly to Korea with no opportunity to service its equipment. Eight days later the regiment was in combat, and found its signal equipment operating at approximately 50 per cent efficiency, whereas during the maneuver it had been 95 per cent effective.

54. Supply by Cable

Lt. William A. Champion, Lt. Charles H. Crossley, Lt. Weldon M. Camel, and Lt. James E. Hunter, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion. (From interviews by Lt. John Mewha, 8th Historical Detachment.)

The rains washed away a temporary bridge, isolating the front-line troops and our engineer company. Food and medical supplies were

Page 239

brought in for a Manhour period by a cableway built by the 1st Platoon. Some men from the 3d Platoon, which had been left south of the stream, helped in the operation. A rock with telephone wire attached was thrown to the men, and to this a half-inch rope was attached. A three-quarter cable was attached to the rope. After the cable was pulled across, it was anchored on both sides of the stream. A snatch block, placed on the cable, ran back and forth, hauling supplies across the river.

55. Protecting Perishables

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infantry Division

We learned many tricks about shipping supplies while we were in Korea. One allowed us to protect perishables against heat and cold. When we needed—but didn't have—a refrigerated railroad car or truck, we used our standard vehicles and applied the layer principle. Frozen foods were maintained in standard trucks and boxcars for about three days during normal weather by placing cases of nonperishables on the bottom, sides, and top of the car, then placing the frozen product in the center. To insulate against cold we sandwiched loads of fresh vegetables between protective layers of produce not likely to be damaged by the cold.

56. Finance on the Alert

Major Stanley H. Hendricks, 106th Finance Disbursing Section

While in Wonsan, we were required to remain on the alert twenty-four hours a day because of the limited number of troops available for perimeter defense. We were on the western edge of town and the enemy often infiltrated our positions. Several times I had to have my cash verified by two disinterested officers and necessary certificates prepared. Thermite grenades were attached to my field safes at all times so that the money, checks, and pay records could be quickly destroyed.

Page 240

I had been with the company only a few days, and had not moved the radios into this site, but I anticipated that moving four VHF stations with one truck would be difficult.

I was promised plenty of time to phase out my stations and pack the equipment, however. At 1300 on the 30th I got our march order from the corps signal officer. I was given lots of time—"Be in the column by 1500!"

Scouring the area, I found a North Korean fire engine and a 1-1/2 ton truck. Commandeering is the military term for what took place. I brought the vehicles up to our equipment and loaded. Everything got on board except an old Korean chair, but our appearance was none too military.

60. We Didn't Overlook Anything

Lt.Col. Kenneth O. Schellberg, Quartermaster, 7th Infaury Division

After the 7th Infantry Division landed at Iwon, its infantry regiments moved out very rapidly. The infantry was well on its way to Kapsan while the supply base was still being shifted from Iwon to Pukchong. We were able to supply the infantry only by the continuous use of our truck company, airlifts from Japan, use of the division's own light aircraft, and by operating a ten-mile mine-conveyor system we found. We used this to transport 55-gallon drums from the railhead at Honggun-ni over the very rough mountains to within twelve miles of Pungsan. We hauled gasoline all day and fought off guerrillas from our conveyor installations at night.

61. Seeing Is Believing

Lt.Col. Joseph Beaver, 2d Finance Disbursing Section

The sixty miles separating the finance section from the frontline troops brought no problem. A pay team took payrolls and cash forward to advance CPs on payday and remained until every service was completed. A battalion commander would advise our office when we could visit his units, and we would take the pay records for perusal or

Page 239

voicing of complaints by the men. Most complaints were without foundation; the men were just curious to see their pay records.

62. Who's Afraid of a Tank?

Capt. George R. Spreng, Korean Military Advisory Group

The South Koreans had an extreme fear of tanks. This was not without cause, considering how unprepared they were to cope with them. In time the ROKs came to realize how restricted the tankers were, and how frightened were the crewmen.

An incident occurred near Hamhung which pointed up the limitations of tanks. The Chinese Communists attached with four tanks out ahead of their infantry. Two of my ROK engineers each ran twice across the road dropping M6 mines in the path of the tanks. All four enemy tanks were knocked out, and the attack was stopped. The fear of tanks was much less thereafter.

63. Laying Telephone Wire by Air

Command Report, 23d Infantry (October 1951)

Liaison planes in three missions laid 11,000 yards of telephone wire. It was found that 2 miles of wire will cross 1.4 miles of ground distance. That is not excessive, for wire crews normally allow a 25 per cent slack.

Wire should be flown into position by 1530, as the wire crews must locate it and connect the wires before dark. To aid the wire men, a panel is tied to each end of the wire. It is suggested that smoke grenades be dropped from the plane at each end of a run.

We used the planes to lay wire only when the terrain was too rough for crews to do it on the ground. However, the wire crossed terrain where it could not be repaired. Alternate means of communication must therefore be established.

Page 243

64. Payroll by Helicopter

Major Wilford E. Vidlock, Finance Officer, 24th Infantry Division

One morning I was due at the division's forward CP at 0900 to deliver the payroll to unit agents. I knew I could never make it by jeep, so I asked one of the pilots of a helicopter to fly me and my assistant forward. He very obligingly agreed. It took us an hour to make the trip that would have taken eight by jeep. So I claim for the finance section of the 24th Infantry Division the distinction of first having delivered a monthly payroll by helicopter.

We arrived on time, so everybody was happy. You should have seen the people at forward when I got out of the "eggbeater"! No joke. They were running every which way as we made our approach. When I stepped out it was really a picnic. They thought the helicopter was bringing General Ridgway!

Page updated 30 May 2001

RETURN TO Contents