the trees going up the hill. In front of the trees was barren, clay-like ground for
about 75 yards to the top where the tree line started again.
Several attempts had been made by rifle squads to rush up the hill, I was
told, but they had been shot up pretty badly.... While I was coming back up [the
hill] I saw J. B. coming down the hill with part of his hand shot off. He had also
been hit in the shoulder . . . he had to lie all night at the bottom of the hill before
he could get medical aid the next morning. He was lucky that he didn't bleed to
... When I got to the gun, Richard was firing. I jumped down in the hole to
help load the gun and assist him. The mortar rounds seem to mostly be hitting
back down the hill, but we had a half dozen hit close and throw rocks ..... I
heard later that a sergeant and a private in a foxhole back down the hill had a
direct hit by mortar fire. We heard they picked them up in a body bag, not
knowing how to separate body parts.
. I may have wasted several hundred rounds the next hour, as I started
firing for where I thought [the enemy] could be concealed. There were several
groups of heavy brush about 30 feet long and six feet high still covered with
heavy foliage. I searched and traversed back and forth at different heights firing
bursts, and then fired up in the trees the same way for possible snipers. It
seemed to quiet down for a while after that. Maybe the enemy was waiting for me
to use up the ammo.50
Genrich then related that his unit dug in for the night.
There was a little rise to the left of us and I couldn't see any of our men,
but could hear them firing. To the right about 20 yards away were two riflemen in
a small hole. They were about ten feet from the edge of the treeline before the
open ground area going to the top of the hill. This was all we could see from our
position, but we could feel and hear other Marines around.
The darkness started to settle in and I ate my last can of C-rations, which I
would have saved had I known it was the last food for four days . . . Richard ...
told me of the heavy casualties. The only officer left was the new 2nd Lieutenant
from Brooklyn who had joined Howe Company about five days after I had arrived.
I went from ammo carrier to gunner in about five hours. The assistant
gunner became the squad leader as we were the only two left in the squad.
Richard was a little depressed for the first time. He said they outnumbered us 50-
to-1 and could overrun us anytime they wanted. I was young and new and said,
"Never! We're Marines. Nobody can beat us!" This was some of the brainwashing
leftover from stateside training. I told Richard that I had to take a crap and I was
going to go down the hill in front of the gun. He told me to do it on top of the hill
near the foxhole. I said that I didn't want to smell up our area and went about 20
feet down in front of our hole. We later heard after the hill was secured that they
had over 2,500 land mines on the hill and not one Marine stepped on one. I
guess they didn't expect us to use the path on the way up the hill.51
50 Oral memoir of Jon Charles Genrich.
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 February 6, 2016.