THE 1ST MARINES ARRIVE
Day Two: September 12
Colonel Herman Nickerson, CO 7th Marines, came up with a plan. He sent his
reserve, 2/7, to make a night movement past 1/7's left flank into the enemy's rear (the
enemy on Hill 673, a whole regiment). Thus 1/7 would be to its front and 2/7 would be to
its rear to cut off retreat. When September 12 dawned, two 2/7 platoons were in place
for the assault. "The Marines in the Korean War were no longer content to yield the
night to the enemy as had been the norm in the Pacific war. Inspired by the now-
legendary cross-country night march of LtCol Ray Davis and his 1/7 in the relief of
Toktong Pass the previous December, the 1st Mar Div had made low visibility operations
a priority subject in its training programs."1
Ralph B. Steele of Fox 2/7 remembered one moment of the advance:
So next morning we take off and we're moving into that valley and we get - we're
coming off the line or off this particular line east - we're marching east. My buddy
said if. . . we get down to that stream and we turn right we're going into reserve.
Still hadn't dawned on us attack was imminent. If we tuned left or north we're
going in the attack. Well, we saw the column down there making a left turn ...
heading for the attack.2
The enemy had no clue what hit them. The Marines of 2/7 crushed many NKPA
troops atop 673, and victory would have been complete for that objective, save heavy
land mine concentrations between the two Marine battalions kept them from fully closing
Lynn Montross, et al., The East-Central Front, 184; 1st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 15;
Joseph H. Alexander, "Kanmubong Ridge," 19.
2 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 October 1, 2016.