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.
A portion of the line manned by Republic of Korea (ROK) troops was overrun. Bob Moore's unit was sent to plug the hole and as they struggled, help came in the form of a forward observer from the battleship USS Missouri. The Mighty Mo was anchored within range of the hill and it's barrage turned the tide of the battle, but the noise of the shells and gunfire had a lasting effect on Moore.
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.
On his first day at the front in Korea, Jack Robinson was sent on patrol and had to hit the deck in a rice paddy. That's when he discovered what they were using for fertilizer. At least he had a great company commander who knew how to use air support. And when there were wounded to be rescued, he learned about a neat trick the tankers could use.
On guard duty one night, Bob Moore heard the Chinese loudspeakers broadcasting a propaganda appeal. It did get to him a a little when they said his supporting units had left them alone. Bugles and drums were another psychological weapon and the Americans countered with huge spotlights to light up the advancing enemy.
Attack and counter attack. Bob Humphery describes two of the see-saw battles in Korea, The Schoolhouse and The Bowling Alley. He remembers wave after wave of Chinese when they joined the fight, many of them unarmed. When he found himself fleeing under fire, there was one thought in his mind, "What would a rabbit do?"
It was cold in Korea but Al Carter says that a body gets used to it and that he was prepared from the tough basic training. His unit moved a lot on the front, but he never saw Korean towns or cities, only the lonely front, where all the civilians had been evacuated. During this time, a Korean friend he met after the war was fleeing the North.
During the early part of the Korean War, Bob Humphery's unit drove all the way to Manchuria and occupied Pyongyang, now the North Korean capital. He was amused at being drilled extensively on using boats for river crossing, then using a footbridge when the time came. Since he never took R&R, he was among the first Americans to return home.
They held the hill all night under assault. At daylight, the order came to leave. Jack Robinson's platoon had to hold the crest while the others withdrew and that left them facing an entire Chinese regiment. He says he never ran so fast in his life when it came his turn to scramble down to safety. Unfortunately, his friend Gotfried Paulson didn't make it.
It wasn't written up, but the Battle of Horseshoe Ridge was a furious fight against advancing Chinese troops, who had entered the war and were now leading the push toward the South. Bill Bates tells how his men got through that ordeal and how they got out of it with a beautiful "retrograde maneuver."
Ben Malcom describes some of the more unique aspects of living on the small islands near North Korea. Boats were numerous and very important, and his boats were specialized to disguise their function and speed. Aircraft flying missions over the area also depended on the small islands to crash land when necessary, in which case Malcom would destroy the irreparable aircraft.
Ben Gross never felt afraid while guarding a POW camp for Chinese soldiers at the end of the Korean War. They were mostly just young and eager to please. When the duty was complete, he faced a stark, miserable ride to Inchon to ship home.
His last post was Sandbag Castle, another barren Korean hill, where the soldiers had hoisted an American flag and then got rid of it as the artillery zeroed in. A new commander surveyed the situation and decided what he needed was modified depth charges that could be catapulted at the enemy.
His platoon was sent to probe a hill, but soon they were scrambling for cover and Jack Robinson was carrying a wounded sergeant, John Cima, back to the medics. When he returned, he spotted a gas stove left by some tankers with a hot cup of coffee just waiting.
As he prepared to leave for Korea, Bob Moore found out his wife was expecting a child. This was a sobering thought as he headed for a replacement center near the front. There he heard an unusual motivational speech that stuck with him.
Everyone else was scared of General Puller, but Bill Bates approached the legendary Marine to ask a favor, which he got, along with an earful. At this point in the war, he had become the operations officer, after the division had withdrawn from North Korea.
At the age of sixteen, Bob Humphery was already in the National Guard and as soon as he was old enough, he went into the Army. At boot camp, he was getting tired on the long marches so he came up with a plan to lighten his load. He was pulling good duty occupying Japan when his unit was called for Korea and soon he was an expert at climbing hills.
If you need to pick off a target at 1500 yards, the heavy M-1 is perfect, says Bob Moore. But if you need to crawl around in the dark on patrol, the carbine is a much better weapon. Especially after the maintenance guys modified it.
The explosion in the tank happened in a second and Bob Jewitt didn't even know what just happened. "Get the hell out of here!" came the order, but first, under fire, he pulled another crew member from the forward hatch and dragged him to safety under the tank. But there was one more crew member. Part 2 of 2.
The North Koreans had retreated northward and Bill Bates and his Marines were finally able to take hot showers under the curious watch of a local crowd. They returned to the fight, pushing toward the Yalu River when reports of Chinese units started coming in.
As soon as Bob Moore arrived as a replacement at the front lines, he had to climb a treacherous hill where he proceeded to get chewed out by LT Joe Davis for not being a machine gunner. Thanks to a great sergeant, Dan Sharp, he soon was.
He charmed his way onto a helicopter to do his reconnaissance so often, Bill Bates wound up with an air medal. The steep Korean mountains and frigid weather were difficult to deal with. The cold was responsible for the overnight ordeal of waking and massaging feet, ears and noses.
Glen Weber had his infantry training in the mountains and that was good preparation for scaling the hilly front line in Korea. Most of the fighting was done, but he was part of a determined force manning and fortifying the bunkers.
B-29 Radio operator Bud Ellis was retrained in electronic countermeasures before his deployment. His job was to jam enemy systems by broadcasting noise on their control frequencies. One problem was, where was he going to sit on the plane?