4:09 | He was a good football player, having played semi-pro while still in high school. JIm Bolan didn't stop there, he played once he was in the Army and went to the 82nd Airborne to do just that. Someone else got that slot, though, so he went to Korea, where it was bunker battles on static lines.
Keywords : James R Jim Bolan Berlin Airlift football Korea bunker warfare Chinese Chorwon Valley
Jim Bolan's father was a tool and die man who was so good, he quit several jobs during the Depression. The younger Bolan was allowed a great deal of independence and enjoyed a summer job on a farm and living with a rich aunt on the Jersey shore.
Two interesting things happened to Jim Bolan in Korea. One night, after his shift in the command post ended, he was walking on a slippery steep hill when he lost his footing and down he went. What happened then was memorable. The other thing involved the failure to capture a Chinese soldier after two weeks of trying. He and his buddy decided to give it a try on their own. (Caution: rough language.)
Jim Bolan was attached to the Marines for a while as a sniper. He used an M-1 for the closer stuff but for anything really distant, he used his own rifle that his father had sent to him. Then a general got a look at it. Son, that's an illegal weapon.
Chesty Puller was already a legend when Jim Bolan met him in Korea. It wasn't long after that that he stood on the bank of the Yalu River and it wasn't long after that there was a long retreat back down the peninsula. He had some good friends there, including one who earned the Medal of Honor and one who maybe should have.
Jim Bolan returned to Korea as an officer where he witnessed a huge display of celebratory firepower on the last day of the war. While there, a reporter for a Dallas newspaper interviewed a home town boy and wound up causing a scandal.
At the beginning, there were less than 100 members of the 1st Special Forces Group, which was being assembled on Okinawa. The CIA was already in Vietnam, organizing civilian defense groups. Jim Bolan was one of the early officers but he had a couple of detours, including coaching a football team and creating a new department at the Special Warfare School.
The Special Forces were getting involved in Vietnam but early member Jim Bolan was assigned to Pakistan as an advisor for a year. Americans were still welcomed then and his wife could drive around the countryside to go to the commissary. They lived in a large house with servants led by a butler who was up to no good.
When Special Forces officer Jim Bolan got to Vietnam, he was waiting for a slot so he went to the field to help out there for a couple of days. He stayed for 2 months. When the higher ups found out there was a major out there, they pulled him out and put him in charge of a B-team at Xuan Loc. His Vietnamese counterpart was not helpful.
Why were the Montagnard units getting no contact? It was determined that they weren't going out far enough and on the second patrol that ventured further, Jim Bolan and the combined unit ran into the back of a VC ambush. A furious firefight followed, and he summoned his ace in the hole, the Air Force.
Special Forces officer Jim Bolan was in command of a B-Team but he was also the senior MACV advisor in his area. That meant he had monthly meetings in Saigon and at one of these, he met Gen. William Westmoreland, who became a very valuable contact when he had a problem.
Looking back over a long career with Special Forces, Jim Bolan remembers how little they started with, both personnel and equipment. They were under supplied and overused. He spent almost seven years in Vietnam with the first SF units which were comprised of soldiers who would never win Soldier of the Year.
After his last tour in Korea, Jim Bolan was assigned to Special Forces. No volunteering needed. Everything was highly classified and they began training with no real system in place. Different units were then combined to form the 1st Special Forces Group, based on Okinawa.
It was a lousy assignment. Jim Bolan was one of the first Special Forces officers and, after Vietnam, he wound up in a training unit with no jump slot. Prodded by his wife, he went to Washington to dust off his most valuable inside contact, who was now the Army's Chief of Staff.
He had to weigh 120 pounds but he only weighed 116. Ed Fulghum's induction physical was the next day and, as usual, he came up with a plan. It was knee deep snow where he did his basic training. When some joker didn't turn in his pistol at the range, the recruits were sent outside to stand in the snowy Indiana weather.
As the Battle of Chosin Reservoir got underway, Marine PFC Marty Letellier found himself trying to tend to some personal business, alone in the dark with tracers flying overhead. Back at Hagaru-ri, his commanding general was ignoring suggestions to move his HQ further up. He knew how badly they were outnumbered by the Chinese and was already preparing for evacuations. Part 2 of 4.
He was inland but still close enough to the coast to feel the effects of a devastating typhoon. Ray Bohn tells how his unit prepared for the storm and what happened when they had to build a rope bridge to their outhouse. It was on the other side of a stream that had become a raging torrent.
During his second tour in Korea, the goal was to take a prisoner for intelligence gathering. Jake Jacobson recalls that they didn't get a single one. He did encounter a Pathfinder unit and they encouraged him to transfer in. This he did, but, unfortunately, he got in some trouble and General Westmoreland made sure he was left with only one stripe.
As company clerk, John Meyers had several responsibilities, the captain's morning report, letters home to parents of men killed in action and writing up awards recommendations. He wrote up the recommendation for Charles Gilliland, a seventeen year old, whose heroic actions made him the youngest soldier to receive the Medal Of Honor in the Korean War.
As a courier, Ray Bohn had to deliver his messages no matter how much live fire was happening. This could get dangerous, like the time he negotiated a terrible mountain road that was right in the sights of the Chinese artillery. What was his secret that kept him alive?
At the Chosin Reservoir, the Marines had close air support from Marine pilots flying Corsairs. Night after night, waves of Chinese came and, in waves, they died. Young mortarman Marty Letellier was in a position below the crest of the hill and took shots at Chinese who had overrun the top and were now on their way down the other side. There were so damn many of them! Part 3 of 4.
Ron Clark remembers when the Chinese would attack and how the strategies between American and Chinese differed. He also explains one detailed account of an American casualty during battle and his own major injury that permanently disabled his eyesight.
When it came time for Ray Bohn to come home from Korea, some of the guys were sore because, as a draftee, he was eligible and they were not. When he got home, he went to work with his father at a hardware firm where he started out sweeping floors and then rose to be president of the company.
When it was time to act, Bill Minnich came through. On a night watch, as he caught sight of a Chinese patrol, the only question was, rifle or grenade? When the unit was pinned down and no one responded to the order to move out, he cussed them all out and charged forward. And when he fell wounded, it was a sure thing that he would get up and scramble through the bullets landing at his feet.
You couldn't kill them fast enough. The Marines received the order to withdraw from the Chosin Reservoir when it became obvious there were just too many Chinese and they started down the long road to Hagaru-ri. There was plenty of fighting along the way and more casualties. When mortarman Marty Letellier finally got there, he devoured some flapjacks and got some real sleep for the first time in weeks. Part 4 of 4.
Ben Malcom recalls a mission to infiltrate and destroy a 76mm gun hidden inside a North Korean mountain. During the cover of night on July 14, 1952, Malcom managed to sneak 120 guerilla fighters onto the mountain and into the bunker, and describes the combat that ensued.
At the Korean front, Ray Bohn's HQ company was camped on two sides of a valley. His side was subject to Chinese artillery fire while the other side, where the officers were camped, was sheltered by the hill on that side. During a fierce barrage, they tried to time the reloading and sprint to the other side. Who would make it?
Again, Marty Letellier was on a ship going around the coast of Korea. From Pusan to Inchon and now back around to Hungnam. As if those two battles weren't enough, the Marine mortarman was now headed to the Chosin Reservoir. It was beautiful country and nice fall weather, which soon changed to brutal winter. Part 1 of 4.
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. For his actions in this battle, he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Ray Bohn made a decision in his life. He wasn't going to take a back step to anybody. This led to his leaving the Catholic school he attended after clashing with one of the brothers. His trouble continued in the working world and that was fine with him.
Allyn Johnson was an Air Force mechanic and instructor when he found out that he could apply for flight training. Now that was exciting. He had a phobia about acrobatics but he wanted to fly multi-engine aircraft so they let him slide on that part of the training. He went into Air Rescue because they had B-17's and he really wanted to fly one.
Ed Fulghum had conned his way into the Army at sixteen and gone to war in Korea. He got a little nervous when another soldier was shipped home for the same reason. He had a talent for talking his way into things and, when his section chief was due to go home, he set about getting his job.
His uncle was in the Army and had this piece of advice, don't volunteer for anything. Ray Bohn remembered that and never did, especially after he learned about his uncle's fate in New Guinea. The Korean War brought him into the Army and, after basic, he was trained in cryptography.
One day, after three hours of picking cotton, Ed Fulghum announced to his father that he was going to join the Army. Well, you can't. You're only sixteen. I will prove I'm seventeen and join up. He went straight to the recruiter and found out what document he needed. Now he had a plan of action.
When Ed Fulghum got to Korea, he found out that the Inchon invasion was well underway. The notorious Inchon tide had gone out, so he had to slog a couple of hundreds yards through the mud flats to get to the shore. Was he scared? Not in the least.
Ray Bohn never really left the front line while he was in Korea. He never saw the cities, ate a lot of C-rations and took up smoking. As the company courier, he had to visit a lot of different locations and it was at one of these near the coast that he was treated to a display of naval gunfire.
Although he was trained in cryptography, when Ray Bohn got to Korea, he was designated infantry and sent to a heavy weapons company. He immediately had a run-in with the 1st Sgt. there and, just like in his private life, he got himself into trouble. Fortunately, an officer brought him over to Headquarters Company to try and make use of his skills.