received the traditional breakfast of steak and eggs. The men were dirty. Due to a water
shortage, it was very hard to keep clean on the lines and most bathing was done with a
wet rag out of a helmet shell (or, occasionally, in the river, though there were warnings
against this because of a fungus men could get in their ears). They got to change
clothes only rarely, but their morale and dedication were high.25
Spike Selmyhr, a platoon leader, received word that the father of one of his
Marines had died. He called the lad aside and told him the news as gently as possible,
and that they could not get him home for the funeral but would give him leave as soon
as possible. The Marine replied, "Lieutenant, I will try not to let this bother me in doing
my job tomorrow." Selmyhr reflected about this, "makes you realize what is meant by
the term, 'Duty, Honor, Country."'26
Ralph B. Steele described the preparation fires for the attack:
... There's four guys in a hole and we got 25 percent watch. One guy awake at
all times . . . So I take my watch, get off watch and they're firing -we didn't know
it then but preparing for tomorrow's attack.... Our artillery was firing. Shells
weren't going over our heads because the target was quite a ways away... on
the hill 673, 749, in that area. Ground's rumbling. It's a lot like the flashes and the
rumble are a lot like a summer thunderstorm coming....27
Though warm or even hot and humid during the day (about 80 degrees most
days), the Korean autumn was setting in with colder and colder nights so that frost even
sometimes formed on the ground in the mornings. And the rain was still present. As
unpleasant as this was to the individual Marine at the time, rain in tactical situations
25 st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 14; Burton F. Anderson, We Claim the Title, 343;
Interview Transcript, Garlen L. "Spike" Selmyhr, 2000.
26 Interview Transcript, Garlen L. "Spike" Selmyhr, 2000.
27 Ralph B. Steele Interview Transcript, Library of Congress.
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 January 28, 2015.