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

There were heavy concentrations of small arms and automatic weapons fire
skillfully used to cover avenues of approach to their [the enemy] positions. They
made good use of camouflage, and were tenacious in holding their positions,
although there was little initiative on the part of subordinates. During the attack.
. [against Kanmubong Ridge], my platoon was driving along a very narrow ridge
line covered with trees and brush. We began to receive small arms and
automatic weapons fire on Hill 751, and I moved forward to encourage the men
and to direct their fire and maneuver.72
He exhibited a great example of one principle of leadership on the small-unit level,
that the officers should be up front:
A major difficulty in battle is the total confusion of noise, shouting, the crack of
bullets, and making sure the troops know where their officers are and that they
are sharing their danger. If the officers are all down behind rocks, trees, etc., and
say "Go get 'em" or "charge," no one is going to go. However, if as the leader one
stands up and says, "Let's go," they will all go. The tough part is that when the
first person stands up (the officer), he feels as if a large bull's eye has been
painted on his body.73
Many Marine Lieutenants were felled in such a way, but someone, even if it was
an NCO and not an officer, was expected to fill that role if an officer fell to enemy fire.
Selmyhr's account continues:
When the firing intensified, I threw myself down into the prone position and
received a bullet in my left shoulder. There was not a lot of pain, and when I tried
to move my arm I found that it worked fine, so I again moved forward behind the
leading squad. The firing was pretty brisk, and the troops were doing well in
returning the fire and in moving to covered and concealed positions. Maybe ten
or fifteen minutes later, I saw a North Korean come out from behind some rocks
and start to point his rifle at me. He was about 30 yards away from me when I
shot him. I had reacted to the small arms and automatic weapons fire from the
enemy by directing the fire of my troops and encouraging them, and by dropping
the enemy I faced. After that, I was in a prone position looking for a target. I
picked what I thought was an arm or shoulder of an enemy and as I moved my
head to the right to look through my sights (about 2-3 inches), I took a bullet that
entered my left cheek and in grazing fraction exited behind my left ear, taking out
part of the mastoid bone. The shock was as if someone had hit me with a
baseball bat. No pain, but lots of blood. I do not know whether it was a stray
round, a machine gun round, or a rifle round. God knows why, but I tried to stand

143

72 Ibid.
73 Ibid.

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 April 19, 2014.