5:54 | Lawrence Snowden was one of only 95,000 active Marines when war broke out in Korea, drawn down from a force of over 500,000. His superiors wanted him to stay in his planning role, but he pushed for a transfer to the action.
Keywords : Lawrence Snowden Marine Corps HQ Korea Gen MacArthur amphibious Seoul executive officer G4 DMZ
Lawrence Snowden’s family dentist would regale him with tales of his Marine Corps service and invariably finish by telling him that it would be too tough for him. The young Snowden took this as a challenge.
After a stop at Camp Lejeune, newly commissioned Lieutenant Lawrence Snowden was sent to Camp Pendleton to help put together the new 4th Marine Division. His was the first unit to train at Pendleton.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
On Saipan and Tinian, Lawrence Snowden discovered huge green flies and poor use of artillery. He also had a profoundly moving experience when he heard soft crying coming from a pile of bodies.
Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden learned two things made Iwo Jima a valuable prize for the Allies: its position halfway between B-29 bases in Saipan and Tokyo, and the fact that it was, legally, a part of the Japanese mainland.
During the difficult landing at Iwo Jima, company commander Lawrence Snowden dove into a bomb crater for shelter and found Sgt. Leonard Ash there with a gruesome wound.
Lawrence Snowden was told that the campaign for Iwo Jima would take maybe 5 days. Instead it was 36 long, bloody days and when the flag was raised, no one in his unit stood up and cheered. That Marine would have been a dead Marine.
Iwo Jima was a unique battle in that the victors suffered more casualties than the defeated. Marine Captain Lawrence Snowden says that you came to feel that like it wouldn't happen to you, and that spirit enabled the men to reach their objective.
Lawrence Snowden knew that the machine guns on the wings of the Zero could not be aimed at him, so he stood up in the bomb crater he was using for cover and waved to the pilot of the low flying plane.
Lawrence Snowden was wounded on Iwo Jima and discovered that the policy was to not return any wounded troops to the battle. He wanted to return to his men and persevered because he knew there was always someone around who could change policy.
Aboard a troop ship, Lawrence Snowden found out what it means to be a union chef when he had to finish cooking his own eggs. Then he reveals the reason he loves sardines.
Captain Lawrence Snowden was transferred to the 3rd Marine Division on Guam, where he readied for the expected invasion of Japan. The commander was Maj. Gen. Graves B. Erskine, who had a reputation as a “tough cookie.”
Lawrence Snowden points out that the lasting effects of WWII go far beyond the fighting. The makeup of America’s labor force was forever changed, as women stepped up, and provincial attitudes were swept away.
During the Korean War, Lawrence Snowden visited postwar Japan for the first time. During a train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo, he became aware of an essential truth regarding wartime enemies.
In Vietnam, Regimental Commander Lawrence Snowden saw the dirty part of the war operating down in the Delta. Later, working at HQ making bombing assessments, he began to realize the aerial assault on the North was not working.
Lawrence Snowden had a long and varied career as a Marine officer, but the most important lesson on leadership, he learned as a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant at Camp Lejeune. His men were not there to serve him. He was there to serve them.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.