this was the A-1 spot because we could use the tree trunk as a natural parapet.
But Tom was adamant and kept insisting that we dig in about twenty feet behind
the uprooted tree.
I just couldn't understand his reasoning, but after arguing about it for ten
minutes I gave in-mainly because he had been in Korea for about two months,
and I had just arrived.
Five minutes after we started digging, two Marines from our platoon came
along and spotted that big uprooted hemlock, and they said, "That's the perfect
spot" and started digging.
About an hour after we were all dug in, a gook artillery barrage began.
These two Marines who had "my" hemlock tree took a direct hit from a mortar.
One of them was killed outright, and the other was barely breathing when we dug
him out. I doubt he lived. I just thank the Good Lord for giving Tom Hull the
persistence to talk me out of it.
The gooks were artists with mortars. They probably had that hemlock tree
registered and were just waiting for some Marines to move in.67
The Third Battalion 1st Marines (3/1), to 2/1's left (on Hill 680-they had finished
the relief there of 3/7 at 1235), was slated to take Battalion Objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4,
which were stepping stones to taking Hill 751 (Regimental Objective Sugar), and the
ridgeline that included Hill 1052 (Regimental Objective Roger), but this mission was
complicated by the fact that strong enemy firepower still remained on 749. (For
positions, see Map # 26.) These enemy emplacements could subject a force attacking
751 to first oblique, then enfilade flanking fires as it advanced. (This fire, because of the
height of the enemy emplacements, would be plunging as well as grazing fire with the
beaten zones being just about anywhere an attacking Marine could hope to hide.) The
attack was scheduled for 0900 but was delayed by regimental order "pending air for
further reduction of enemy positions," and "by order of the Regimental S-3 because the
67 Oral account of PFC Frank O. Hart, in Knox, Uncertain Victory, 387-88.
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 10, 2016.