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).
Lawrence Abel was called back into service for the Korean War. The Air Force maintenance technician kept the planes flying over the 38th Parallel, then he was selected for a secret unit based in Japan. He made a career of it and even took his family with him to his favorite post in England.
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.
At first the tank battalion supported the line around Pusan, but then they became a part of the huge landing at Inchon. Tank Driver Curtis Banker drove his vehicle ashore with only one boot, which still makes him laugh. As part of the RECON platoon, he had a variety of missions, only one of which was reconnaissance.
He always wanted to be a Marine. Ever since he followed the daily news through World War II, Fred Fletcher had that deep desire. He survived the abrasive Drill Instructor at Parris Island and was assigned to Subic Bay on routine station duty when the Communists from the North attacked South Korea. Soon he was in a different climate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Marines were heading North when they found out that China had joined the North Koreans. Fred Fletcher was one of the men on the high plateau at the Chosin Reservoir. One of the patrols from his unit got to a ridge top and when they looked over, there were "many, many, many Chinese."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 when the Chinese launched a massive attack against the Americans on Old Baldy. The greater test was after the combat when he dealt with the wounded for the first time.
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.
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.
From Long Island, Bob Moore was "invited" by the government to join the Army. He remembers the cold weather training in Pennsylvania and the words of the tough sergeant, words he would often appreciate later in Korea.