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

Marines were always digging in and expecting to stay a few days, only to
have the gunny come along, usually within hours, with the order "Move out!" This
is what happened to us a day after we went into reserve below Hill 749.
We started moving up through an open valley. Gunny Hamilton got us
lined up and ordered us to keep a five yard interval "because we will be under
direct enemy observation." That made us pay attention, no mistake.
We reached the center of the valley before the North Koreans saw us
moving up, carrying our mortars and ammunition. They immediately started
shelling us with 76-mm artillery. One of our platoon gunners [Weapons
Company] caught a ground burst a few dozen yards ahead of me. He just
seemed to come apart. It was a terrible thing to see.
There were a couple of Inch'on veterans in our outfit, men who were about
ready to go home. They were more nervous than the new men because they
knew what it was like, and the last thing they wanted to do was go into another
action only days before they were due to get on the boat for Japan and the
States.
The shells were raining down in earnest as we slogged across that open
valley, and Gunny Hamilton, acting like a Marine in a John Wayne movie, just
strolled along the line urging us, "Get a move on, Marine, you're falling back." He
was a veteran of Tarawa and a typical Marine regular.63
With daylight, despite the heavy casualties the division had taken, Marines of 1/1
(relatively fresh because they had been in reserve while 3/1 and 2/1 were under the
brunt of the enemy attacks) saddled up and stepped out at 0930 to pass through 2/1
and resume the assault. Mortar fire continued to hit the Marines as 1/1 entered 2/1
lines, slowing the passage of lines, but by 1050, 1/1 continued to advance along the
ridge to 749. (The passage of lines ended at 1030.) At 1055, an airstrike and artillery
barrage prepped the objective. Two strong points in the enemy line dominated the
positions of the Marines' attacking companies, two high knobs of ground (Battalion
Objectives 1 and 2) on the ridge running to 812 from 749. (See Map # 29) Artillery,
mortars, 75mm RGs, and AT rockets were called to suppress these points while the
63 Oral account of PFC Frank J. Davidson, in: Knox, Uncertain Victory, 386.

176

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 November 28, 2014.