Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

HELL BROKE LOOSE!!! Machine gun fire was coming from all directions. Bullets
whizzed around us cutting trees and branches.., many times in the past I have
asked myself; "why didn't you charge up that last 20 feet and throw a grenade
thru [sic] the aperture of that bunker? ... The answer I always get is: "Because I
was scared out of my wits, you sill sonofabitch! ..."
Anyway, I scrambled back a few yards and hit the deck. I lay on my back,
pulled out, and lit a Camel cigarette. I listened to the bullets whizzing overhead.
The firefight lasted about 2 Camels and the abruptly stopped. I waited another 10
minutes and started making my way back to the platoon. The platoon had left so I
decided I would also and started down the hill toward the valley. Shortly two
shots rang out towards me from 673. Then the voice (in gook English) yelled,
"HALT!" I thought, "that sonafabitch missed me twice and now he wants me to
HALT? Screw you Charlie! I was moving on! Pulling a Hank Snow! [A popular
song at the time was I'm Moving On by Hank Snow.]
I ran on down the hill about 100 yards and stopped.... I felt sure they
would come down looking for me so I lay down by a large tree and waited. I
guess I was there about 15 minutes and during this time talked to God and
Jesus, and anyone else who would listen! I made every promise I could think of I
said "if you can only get me out of this mess I will go to church every Sunday and
any other time you are open!"
... In a few minutes this gook appeared at the same spot I thought he
would .... I didn't think he saw me because of his casual manner and was pretty
sure that they thought I was already back in Corpus Christi, Texas by then! . . I
leveled my M1 at him and squeezed off a round which hit him in the stomach
chest area and knocked him down screaming! A terrific feeling came of
contentment ran through me and at that moment, the fear was gone. ...
I reached the rice paddies, which were terraced down to the bottom of the
valley like giant stairs.... Burp gun and machine gun fire followed me as I ran
across the paddies. At each drop off, I would crawl one way or another 20 feet or
so then take off running again. My helmet fell off in the middle on one of the
paddies. That helmet had some letters from a girl in Corpus. As the machine gun
fire increased, the importance of the letters decreased. I decided not to return for
the helmet.
... It was almost dark now and I decided it might be better if I waited until
morning to go up the hill. So far my day was going pretty good and I didn't want
to end it by accidentally being killed by the U. S. Marines.
... At about 6 AM I thought it might be safe to make my way back up the
hill. I yelled at Baker Company my name and company. It seemed like a long
time but they finally signaled me to come up.
I got about half way up the hill and there was an explosion under me.
When I opened my eyes I was standing in a huge hole!... I didn't have a scratch
on me, but I didn't hear too well for a while. Maybe it was my talk with God and
Jesus the day before. ...
Baker sent two Marines down to guide me up the trail and through the
minefield. I was taken to It. Eddie Le Baron for debriefing. ...

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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 11, 2014.