illuminating statements, "To launch the attack against this stubbornly held enemy
stronghold without benefit of adequate close air support would entail needless loss of
lives." And, "aircraft loaded with napalm and 500 pound bombs were requested
throughout the day; however, only one strike at 1300 and one strike at 1650 were
granted, none being loaded with 500 pound bombs."27
Furthermore, 2/1's CO made a visit to the Regimental CO and was told to "delay
H-hour until, in the opinion of the Commanding Officer, 2/1, sufficient preparatory fires
had been delivered to enable the seizure of the remainder of Division Objective BAKER
with minimum casualties to our troops." But because of the poor air support, he would
have to try and make do with the poor substitute of artillery, which was fired in heavy
concentrations to try and complete an adequate softening of the objective.28
PFC Lyle Conaway remembered that day:
Late in the morning Colonel Nihart came up and told a group of us to go
back along the path we had used earlier and gather up all the ammo and
stretchers we could find. Around 8:00 A. M. we'd received word that we were to
continue the attack on Hill 749. While we waited, it had been a strain to have that
black hill looming over us. We knew it was going to be tough. I remembered over
and over, Colonel Nihart's words "a lot of Purple Hearts ... "
I went down with four other people, one of whom was named McGee. He
and another man explored an area near a burned-out bunker, and they both
stepped on land mines. They sat in a state of shock, staring at their smoking feet.
Immediately afterward, we took about ten rounds of mortar fire. The other two
men with me were hit by shrapnel, both in the stomach. McGee and the other
guy tried to move but kept falling over. I yelled to them to stay where they were,
then dragged the two wounded men nearest me under some pine trees.29
Not all Marines displayed commendable characteristics. An example follows in
Conaway's continued account:
27 st Marine Regiment, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 16; Second Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment,
"Historical Diary," September 1951, 8.
28 Second Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 8.
29 Oral account of PFC Lyle Conanway, Fox Company, 2/1, in: Knox, Uncertain Victory, 300-301.
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, 2014.