company, attached to the battalion for operations. Hill 812 was within range of
both the machine guns and the recoilless rifles.
Just a short time after the last round of the artillery concentration had been
expended [from the barrage against the NKPA caught eating breakfast], the
North Koreans could be seen swarming around the hilltop in great numbers. I
guess the colonel must have been reading Rommel's Infantry Attacks prior to
coming out to Korea. In any event, he favored supporting the attack on Hill 812
with long range machine gun fire. Rommel had made himself famous by such
utilization of machine guns in the Great War. Why not give it a try? What to do?
My advice was offered and rejected. The guns went into action. Across the valley
the .30 caliber slugs flew, hundreds of them striking the hard ground, kicking up
little puffs of dust around the bunkers. And then the roar of the recoilless rifles,
the backflash vivid against the green foliage, high explosive rounds reaching out
to tear the tough skin of Hill 812. Up on Hills 980 and 1052, the North Korean
forward observers were watching. They turned to their communications, gave fire
commands, and turned back to watch the machine guns once more. The 120mm
tubes were laid, the bubbles leveled, the rounds dropped in. On over, one short..
. Fire for effect!
Six of our Brownings neutralized, water jackets pierced. Four of the gun
crews wounded. The recoilless rifles forced out of position. That sudden. That
smooth. Korea was not Austria or even Italy. Korea was Korea. Eventually that
fact would sink in.66
The attack, however, went on regardless. "All approaches to the hill were covered
by enemy automatic weapons fire and the mutually-supporting bunkers were the most
effective opposition encountered. These provided a crossfire that left the Marines
almost helpless at times; the 3.5 inch rockets [called the super bazooka by the troops
since it was a larger version of the old WWII bazooka] might have helped, but couldn't
be brought sufficiently close to fire on the positions." The best weapon, the Marines
discovered, was direct fire into the embrasures of the enemy bunkers with the Marines
light MGs. The Marines set up their guns and simply kept a steady stream of bullets
pouring through the embrasure until finally every North Korean within who lifted up to
fire was hit. However, "this proved difficult and costly ..."67
66 Gerald P. Averill, Mustang, 267-68.
67 "Historical Diary," Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, 42.
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 March 9, 2014.