got a wounded.... More fire going on. Pretty soon we hear WIAs, they got KIAs.
Now they got a critical situation. They're pinned down and they can't get out. ...
it was a different platoon than what I was a member of, but.., they said "hey I
need some volunteers." They were going to take a squad from that platoon to
actually make the relief, but they was picking up casualties so fast they needed
volunteers for litter bearers.... if I'm needed, I'm going. So my buddy and I
grabbed a litter, and I would imagine another 15, 20 guys lead out down this trail
clear down to the bottom and we ... make a little perimeter down there and they
were starting to withdraw.11
Again, the reports are dry and may mention a patrol, even one that saw heavy
action, in just a single sentence, and it is hard from that to know the human side of such
a thing from them. Steele went on:
These guys were trying to get out from underneath this fire and they came over
the lip. There's a river had made a horseshoe there and a bank on the far side -
say the river is about 15, 20 inches deep and it was probably eight or ten yards
wide. And the guys are coming over the far bank and they were just sweat
stained and filthy dirty and their eyes were all bulging. I mean, they were terrified.
These guys been getting . . . guys knocked down all around them. They came
over to the edge, and I'm on the side of the bank and the sergeant in charge of
that deal shouted down in general says, "We can use some help over there."
Again, that's what I'm here for if I'm paid the big money... 80 some bucks a
month. So I started across this damn stream and here again, you're a youth [a
teenager]. I can hear-and bullets don't zing when they go by like they do in the
movies. They snap... They crack... I heard snap, snap, snap. Well, I thought,
"holy shit I'm being shot at." And I looked around, the other guys didn't seem to
be paying much attention to it, and then right in front of me as I got to the other
side and some bull rushes and I saw two sparks, ptue ptue, you know,
come up, and I remember I don't think that much about it. . . . I was so green ...
There were also all the horrors and tragedies of war on such a patrol. Steele saw
his first dead Marine that day:
... so I got over to the bank and here come a litter over this-by now they're just
sliding down the bank and they were dusty and they were getting across the river
and they were starting up the other side trying to get into safety. . .we were
being shot at but they were in the horseshoe. They were shooting down the river.
Here come a litter, and so a boy I eagerly reach up there for the litter and I bring
it down and I could see the top of the guy's head was all sweat matted. Then the
Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed July 31, 2015.