5:17 | Ray Davis tells the extraordinary story of the expedition he led to save the encircled Fox Company in North Korea near the Chosin Reservoir. This act earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Keywords : Seventh United States Army Chinese General Douglas MacArthur low temperature snow encirclement United States Marine Corps Chosin Resovoir Toktong Pass Hagaru-ri Korea
Ray Davis witnesses the die hard nature of Japanese soldiers in the Pacific.
Medal of Honor awarded to General Raymond Davis when he was still a Lieutenant Colonel (1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division).
We were totally unprepared for war when we had to fight one in Korea. Ralph Puckett should know because his job was to take a small unit of new Rangers into the country for dangerous missions. They arrived at Pusan where the American forces had just barely avoided being pushed into the sea.
They were a little short of funds to continue in college so Joe Nemastil and his cousin talked to a recruiter to see what they could get in the Army. Promised a place in Officer Candidate School, he went off to basic training. The conditions were rough and the Kentucky winter came blowing right through the wall boards of the old barracks. Then, surprise! No OCS and orders for Korea.
He was studying for the priesthood, but Jim Walsh enlisted in the Army when the Korean War began. When he arrived in country, entry into combat was immediate for the machine gunner. His weapon was an old design, but it was effective. The only drawback was the large crew required to operate it.
When Bill Camper arrived in Korea in command of an engineer company, the peace talks were going on so they were able to do their work on roads and bridges without getting shot. Mines were a threat, though, left by the retreating Communists. After tours in Japan and Germany, he was training paratroopers at Fort Benning when the Vietnam War began to heat up.
He shipped out to Korea and, right away, he was disturbed by something he saw in the streets of Pusan. Ralph McKay knew then he was somewhere very different from his home in Canada. It was 1953, late in the war, but the shelling was nearly constant on the front line.
When Joe Nemastil arrived at the front in Korea, his platoon leader gave him a short talk, then disappeared, not to be seen very often again. Joe was assistant gunner on the 75 mm recoilless rifle and quickly learned how to use it in combat. That was just one heavy weapon on the line, and it was really something when they were all firing at once.
The Armistice was scheduled to take effect that evening, but George Bruzgis received orders for a fire mission at dawn. The high explosive rounds were fired from the tank and, years later, he found out the significance of those rounds. He was able to revisit Korea twice due to the generosity and gratitude of the Korean people.
Lou Pardy remembers the daily grind of Korea, the constant moving around and making do wherever you were. He also reflects on his long tenure as a Corporal, and why that was, and on his ill-fated attempt to reenter the military years after the war.
They got the word that the Armistice had been signed and to cease all firing. That gave Joe Nemastil a chance to find out what was actually in the no man's land below his position. Checking his weapons, he made his way down the hill and very soon, spotted a Chinese soldier walking right toward him.
His father was a coal miner in Nova Scotia and it shortened his life, so Ralph McKay did not go into the mines, he joined the army as soon as he was eligible at seventeen. He was assigned to the Royal Canadian Regiment, the oldest unit in Canada, and then to jump school. His first jump was memorable.
George Bruzgis received a non-combat injury in Korea when his platoon sergeant, who had a grudge because George was a Yankee from New York City, assigned him to midnight refueling duty. He fell in a slit trench in the dark and couldn't walk for several weeks. That wasn't the end of it.
The advance on Hill 440 was stalled due to a well dug in bunker. After a couple of hours of getting nowhere, Jim Walsh saw a GI running up the hill with a flame thrower. During that same battle, the misfit of the unit also rose to the occasion.
Ralph McKay was at Hill 355 on the front line in Korea. It was during the stalemate period and each side watched the other across the valley between them, occasionally firing artillery or mortars. One mortar shell killed the Canadian unit's cook, their first fatality. McKay was disturbed after he picked up his dead friend, but in those days, you dared not say anything about your feelings.
Jim Walsh had the term "Killer From a Distance" applied to him by his squad leader, Ron Smith. Walsh had used his heavy machine gun to suppress Chinese fire and allow the squad to move forward. Later, Walsh would write a book with that title, referring to artillerymen on whom the infantry depended. Of all the weapons used in Korea, napalm was the most horrendous.
New Yorker George Bruzgis opted for the draft instead of enlistment because it required a year less, just in case he didn't like the Army. Trained in armor, he was deployed to Korea where he was unnerved by the destruction he saw on his way to the front. There, the tanks were dug in and essentially acted as artillery pieces.
After a training operation in the Caribbean, Lou Pardy was settling in to a routine as a clerk in a tank battalion when the Korean War broke out. They were given seven days to get ready to leave and after that hectic week, they were shipped to a slightly more hectic location, the Pusan Perimeter.
When the snow finally melted along the front line in Korea, there was a grisly discovery along the supply path. There were also rats. Lots of them, big ones. Jim Walsh talks about the rats and other, little known aspects of life on the line.
After moving around South Korea, Records Clerk Lou Pardy prepared to head into North Korea to Hungnam. The unit was in relief of Marines, whose tanks were not winterized. It was bitterly cold and there was a constant stream of refugees to screen in addition to regular duties. Finally, as the Allies lost ground, the city was evacuated in almost disastrous fashion.
After a short stint in the Navy, Bill Camper decided that it wasn't for him. He was going to serve, but in the Navy, the gulf between officers and enlisted men was too wide, so he got out and enlisted in the Army, where he knew the officers would be in the mud with him. Once in the Army, he was sent to Officer Candidate School and went to Korea with an engineer battalion.
He had chickened out after trying to enlist, but the Army recruiter showed up at his house a week later and Lou Pardy wound up going in for a three year stretch. Basic training was tough and it put a few more pounds on his small frame.
As soon as the troop ship cleared Seattle and headed for Korea, they hit a storm and Joe Nemastil was seasick the rest of the way. He was on his way to join the 7th Infantry Division at the front. It was only three months before the armistice was signed but it was three months of combat on the static lines. For Joe, the worst enemy was not North Korean or Chinese. It was something in the bunkers.
Records clerk Lou Pardy had always been just behind the front lines with Headquarters Company, but after the rapid retreat from North Korea, all HQ personnel were moved back to Seoul. As his rotation date neared, and with a savvy replacement already in place, he took an unofficial job as a courier, which carried him back to the front on a daily basis.
After the war in the Pacific, Curtis banker got married but the Army still beckoned and he reenlisted in 1947. After a year of driving a target tank on the Fort Benning firing range, he got orders to ship out to Korea, where a desperate force was clinging to a perimeter around Pusan.
He was at jump school when he heard about the North Koreans invading the South. Determined to get in the war, young 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Puckett was at a stopover in Japan when he was told to report for possible selection for a special Ranger unit. He found out that the officers were already selected but he made a pitch to get on the team as a rifleman if nothing else. Come back tomorrow, he was told.
Curtis Banker's armored unit was part of the force that came into Hungnam to support the Infantry and Marines who were "advancing in a different direction" out of North Korea. After the evacuation of thousands of civilians and Allied personnel, and as they were sailing away, he saw the warehouses full of supplies burning, torched so the enemy would not benefit.