12:28 | It was called Hill 205. The small Ranger company was told to take and hold the hill. They did that as long as they could but Ralph Puckett and his men had to go through hell to do it. Waves of Chinese attackers had him calling in very close artillery strikes. He lay there, unable to move after three wounds, watching the Chinese bayonet wounded Rangers. Then two figures charged up the hill.
Keywords : Ralph Puckett Korea Ranger Hill 205 Pusan Inchon 8th Army Yalu River Task Force Dolvin Douglas MacArthur Harry Truman Republic of Korea (ROK) Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA) Barnard Barney Cummings artillery grenade Chinese whistle bugle mortar concentration flare bayonet Billy G. Walls David L. Pollack esprit de corps
After twenty two years of service, Ralph Puckett retired and had a successful private life, but it was inevitable that he would reconnect with his beloved Rangers. His talent at building confidence is put to very good use at the Ranger school.
What do men need in a leader? Ralph Puckett draws on his long experience to answer that and then relate it to today's challenges for the military. He notes that some mistakes are repeated and that perhaps, "What we learned is that we don't learn anything from our wars."
He wanted to be a military aviator, but West Point had no aviation program. Impressed by the infantry leaders he encountered, Ralph Puckett decided there would be no truer test of himself than to become a combat infantry officer.
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.
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.
Piano wire? Those Rangers want everything, groused the supply officer. When the volunteer company got into Korea, though, they only had the most basic cold weather gear. The first mission for company commander Ralph Puckett and his men was to rout North Korean stragglers and units left behind when they retreated Northward.
Both feet were severely injured so Ralph Puckett had some serious hospital time coming up. Evacuated from Korea to Japan, then back to Fort Benning, he could, at least, see his family. Then came a knock on the door and two pretty girls walked in. If only they knew what he had just told his father.
He already had a pretty significant career, but Ralph Puckett went to Vietnam as a battalion commander and didn't waste any time getting into the field. His first matter of business was to assure his unit commanders that he had their backs.
Battalion commander Ralph Puckett recounts the story of a night long attack by Viet Cong and NVA Regulars on a position held by one of his companies. He was grateful they had a Forward Observer to co-ordinate artillery support and helicopters for resupply, things he lacked in Korea. For his leadership during this attack, Puckett was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross.
It was better to put men in the field and leave them there. That was the philosophy of Battalion commander Ralph Puckett in Vietnam, where some commanders inserted and then quickly withdrew their troops. When the operation was over, the reward was beer and steak and ice cream. Being prepared was very important to him and he illustrates that principle with a story about some soldiers who were not.
It was nearly time to go home and Ralph Puckett was trying to rally his successor's spirits while showing him around the battalion's operations. Rely on your experienced men, that was his key point. His homecoming was bittersweet because his father was very ill but he was joyous to be reunited with his wife and children.
Ralph Puckett had two homecomings, from Korea and Vietnam. The first was all joyous, the second bittersweet. Despite the anti-war feelings so prevalent at the time, he experienced gratitude and respect in public.
After suffering severe wounds in Korea, Ralph Puckett spent two years at the Ranger Department in various training assignments. Then he went to a command assignment in Puerto Rico, a "go to war" company. He was given the job of setting up a short orientation school, experience that would help him on his next assignment.
It was an interesting assignment. Help the Columbian Army establish a Ranger training school and get it going. Ralph Puckett built up the program from nothing and he knew it was going to be very good, but he did have one problem, what to call the Columbian Rangers?
Ralph Puckett's favorite tour was the three years he spent in Germany with a Special Forces Group. He had his family there and the Ranger learned a lot from the assignment. It was early on for Vietnam, but he heard stories and began reading up on it. Back in the States in a Pentagon job, he asked to be put on the list to go.
When the Korean peace talks started, the lines became static positions and the Marines dug in, fortifying the bunkers and trenches. Jack Robinson picked up a shrapnel wound there and a very unusual Christmas card left by the enemy. He returned stateside for Officer Candidate School but decided to return to college.
The Army evaluated him and sent him to radio school. Then, Arthur Hurst shipped out for Korea, where he was assigned to Headquarters of a tank battalion on the line. He enjoyed working with the sophisticated equipment, but the extreme weather was miserable.
It took a while for the doctors to figure out what had happened when Fred Fletcher was knocked out by a projectile which hit him in the back of the head at the Chosin Reservoir. He recovered and made the Marine Corps a career, although he feels the Corps pulled a fast one on his last assignment. At least the deal made him a Captain.
Jay DeGraw was on inactive reserve status but that became active in 1950. He returned to Camp LeJeune, made Staff Sergeant and shipped out to Korea. As Motor Transport Chief of his unit, he was able to support a very important visitor who was short on jeeps. He was behind the front, but incoming fire was still a big part of his life.
They were freezing immediately, and filthy in a matter of days, after arriving in Korea. The Marines were entering a stalemate situation in deep winter conditions. Richard Hawes enjoyed serving with the Turks and the South Korean Marines, although he was unsure of the South Koreans' interrogation tactics.
When the Korean War broke out, Hospital Corpsman Archie Parrish had been training with the Marines for two years at Camp Lejeune. His Warrant Officer discovered that he lied about his age to enlist and implied that all would be well if he volunteered to go to Korea. So off he went with a hastily assembled division that combined seasoned veterans with raw recruits.
His father was career Navy, but Richard Hawes, after a two year stint in the Navy himself, went for the Marine Corps after being prodded by a colleague of his father's. The Korean War caught the Corps with a lack of junior officers, so an Officer Candidate Course was begun and he was in the first class. The Drill Instructors were specially chosen to deal with college graduates instead of the usual mix.
Hospital Corpsman Archie Parrish did not care for his first assignment following boot camp, helping deliver babies in the Dependents Ward. He was told he could always volunteer for the Fleet Marine Force. Despite not knowing exactly what that was, he was soon integrated with the 2nd Marine Division training at Camp Lejeune. The mission of the Corpsman? To have as many Marines as possible firing as many guns as possible for as many days as possible.
They were not hurting for supplies. The problem was being outnumbered ten to one by the Chinese. When they began "advancing in a different direction," Corpsman Archie Parrish remembers destroying a lot of material so the enemy would not get it. As they approached Koto-ri, he had to dive from an exploding ambulance onto the frozen ground, where he had a chance encounter that would change his life. Part 4 of 4.
Max Ferguson was arriving in Korea just as the armistice was being signed. Deployed near the 38th Parallel, he flew Korean generals and American Colonels around, but only one at a time. The cabin was a clear bubble with two seats. The biggest danger along the DMZ was simply that is was poorly marked, so you had to be careful.
The landing at Inchon was anything but typical and was the brainchild of Douglas MacArthur, who was determined to counter the surprise push by the invading North Koreans. Hospital Corpsman Archie Parrish was part of the massive effort and describes how his friend got a million dollar wound while taking out a machine gun nest.
Helicopter pilot Max Ferguson had a MASH unit down the road from his air strip in Korea. Seen the TV show? Then you've met the doctors and nurses there. In an escapade worthy of an episode from the show, he chased down a fox at weed level in his helicopter.
After serving as a steward on several ships, including an oiler in the frigid winds of the Korean coast, Salvador Sarmiento felt blessed to move into the disbursement office. He had his family with him during shore duty in Subic Bay and Long Beach.
They were ordered to push to the Yalu River and the Manchurian border. Encountering only light resistance, the Marines moved deep into the mountains. Archie Parrish was with them and he recalls how Douglas MacArthur said that the Chinese would never attack. Colonel Chesty Puller knew better, and General Oliver P. Smith also knew that they were being drawn into a trap. Part 1 of 4.
Val Archer received a wartime assignment in Korea, but was diverted to the Marshall Islands to take part in a nuclear weapons test. He flew drones with test instruments through the blast area, and with the end of the war, he tried his luck at civilian life. After several "interesting" jobs, he reenlisted and was offered a chance at a new direction.
When the Korean War broke out, Max Ferguson was receiving an Army commission out of ROTC. Training as a combat engineer, he found out there was a need for engineer pilots, and he succeeded in becoming one. Then he switched from fixed wing to helicopters, which are more difficult to fly and a greater challenge.
Inchon was a great victory for Douglas MacArthur, but the Chosin Reservoir waited for him just a few months away. After moving the Marine field hospital from Inchon Harbor to Seoul, Corpsman Archie Parrish began operating with different detachments in the area. Soon, he would be a pawn in a game between MacArthur and Harry Truman, which led to the absurdity of men dying to take same territory repeatedly.
Jack Robinson joined the Marine Reserves while at college. Three months later, the Korean War broke out and he found himself at Camp Pendleton getting combat training and loading equipment into a troop ship. After a rough crossing, he was looking at the roof of a creaky Korean train car wondering why it was all shot up.
He wasn't even eighteen, but after seeing The Sands Of Iwo Jima, Archie Parrish and his pals tried and failed to enlist in the Marine Corps. But the Navy recruiter next door told him how to hide his real age and he set off to boot camp. This allowed him to escape his strict brother, who was overcompensating for a missing father.
Bob Moore's first night on Old Baldy was memorable. The lines had become static, but there were still attacks and he was tested that night in his new position on a machine gun squad. The greater test was after the combat when he dealt with the wounded for the first time.
At first, the field hospital at Hagaru-ri was getting fire from the surrounding hills as the Chinese Army swarmed into the Chosin Reservoir area. Eventually, those hills were retaken, but Corpsman Archie Parrish felt so targeted that he removed the Red Cross from his uniform. He recalls the agony of a Marine with a severe head wound and reveals why he could not be given morphine. Part 3 of 4.
He thought he had a promise to go to technical school, but Bob Bruffey was frustrated for his first two years in the Air Force. Finally he got his wish and, after working on F-51's for a while, shipped out to Korea where he retrieved downed planes for repair.
After a wild first night at the front, everyone else was headed back up the hill to the bunkers but Bob Moore remained behind with his platoon sergeant on the flank of Old Baldy. He was about to find out what a listening post was and how a still night can play tricks on your senses.
Colonel Andy Smith talks about his time in the Korean War as a Marine pilot. As a pilot of the AU-1 Corsair, Colonel Smith's job was to observe the movements of North Korean and Chinese soldiers crossing the border. Colonel Smith retired from the Marines after 30 years of service.
One day they were having a quiet Thanksgiving meal and the next day all Hell broke loose with waves of Chinese coming at them. The Marines had set up three bases at the Chosin Reservoir and all three were surrounded. Helping them resist the overwhelming odds were the 41st Royal Commandos, the most professional warriors that Hospital Corpsman Archie Parrish had ever seen. Part 2 of 4.
Before Al Carter could reach the front lines in Korea, he had to go through a hurricane at sea which made everyone sick. Then he had to ride underpowered Korean trains, which would often not make it up a hill, roll back and have to build up more steam for another try.
The Marines had spent months on line and had just settled into hot showers and new clothes when the order came, "Saddle Up!" The Chinese Spring Offensive had begun and a hole in the line had to be plugged. Jack Robinson's unit did just that, holding their own with rifles, machine guns and grenades.