3:40 | He was tired of war and service, but he still found himself trying to get back in the Marine Corps. Emory Ashurst had to settle for the Army, but it worked out for 17 more years serving his country. In Korea he was a communications specialist and was fortunate to face no combat. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
Keywords : Emory B. Ashurst Korea Korean Military Advisory Group Signal Corps Huntsville AL Redstone Arsenal
When he was headed to Parris Island, Emory Ashurst knew nothing about the Marine Corps. It only took him a few days to find out what it was all about. That was in 1940 and he was at his first post, guarding a naval powder factory when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was sent to demolition school and slotted for the South Pacific. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
After some amphibious training at La Jolla, Emory Ashurst crossed the Pacific with the 2nd Marine Division to their first island objective, Gavutu, in the Solomon Islands. On his way to the beach in the Higgins boat, he listened to the whining and emotional panic of some of the others. He was not rattled because he had old time religion. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
Emory Ashurst was not technically infantry. He was in a Pioneer unit, tasked with various support functions on the battlefield. His specialty was demolitions and he recalls an incident in which he was placing charges at the mouth of a cave when a gunshot rang out. Another time his crew nearly hurt a fellow Marine when a rock went flying. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
When the Marines hit Tarawa, there was a vast coral reef which prevented the Higgins boats from reaching the shore. Emory Ashurst was lucky to not be in the first wave, walking over the reef. He got a ride in on an amphibious tractor. Many who walked in were killed. He remembers the fine job done by the Navy Corpsmen, who came in alongside the Marines. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
The Japanese commander on Tarawa boasted that it would take a million men a hundred years to take the island. The Marines accomplished it with somewhat fewer in quite a bit less time. Emory Ashurst says the battle was something you would never want to see again. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
The trip to Saipan was normal for a Marine, stuffed in the bottom of a ship. Emory Ashurst was a bomb disposal specialist and he recalls several incidents from Saipan and Tinian. He survived all the munitions and a little Dengue fever as well. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
On his way back to the States after the battles of Saipan and Tinian, at a church service in Hawaii, Emory Ashurst wondered why the chaplain said, "You'll never go home." When he got there, he understood. He wasn't home yet, though. After more demolitions training, he was deployed again to Okinawa. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
There is an outstanding esprit de corps with Marines and Emory Ashurst knows at least one reason why. He served with the Marines and then the Army. That put him in some curious situations while in the Army. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
Between two South Pacific deployments, Emory Ashurst was at the demolitions school at Camp Lejeune. He was giving a safety lecture one day when a corporal started complaining that it wasn't needed. He should have been listening more closely. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
When Emory Ashurst was on Tarawa, his platoon leader asked the men if any of them were wounded. He and several others said yes, but they all thought their wounds were very minor and declined to be put in for a Purple Heart. He has one now, anyway, thanks to that platoon leader. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Air Rescue pilot Allyn Johnson spent a lot of time in the air off the coast of Korea waiting for someone to ask for help. The brass disapproved an award when he successfully rescued some downed Navy airmen but the Navy presented him with a special gift.
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.
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?
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.