On the Morning of the 19th, [18th according to 2/5 Historical Diary] the
colonel decided to leave the "D" Company area, go up to Hill 812 for a look-see,
and establish a command post closer to the lines. Going up that valley trail was a
hard thing for me. Blood from the "F" Company dead and wounded was
everywhere. Too much of it, too many people gone south again, too many off on
the journey from which there is no return....
The main ridge line was a dreary sight. Colors of dark brown and gray, the
foliage down off the crest frayed and torn, the main battle position pulverized, a
heavy mist or a light rain covering the entire hilltop. The North Korean snipers
opened up on us at once.... The gunners of the 76mm mountain guns gave us
a demonstration. Believe me, until you have heard one of their projectiles sing,
you don't fully appreciate music. Extremely high velocity, splitting the air with a
wicked snap, as accurate as rifle fire and packing a hell of a lot more wallop...
The colonel and Averill made it to the men on 812, and Averill noticed they were
spooked. He had been with the battalion longer than any other officer, "had humped the
hills longer, been shot at more consistently, had shared the long days and the longer
nights with these people. This had been their hardest fight. It was my job to stay, to look
after them the best way I could." So he asked the colonel if he could stay on with the
men on Hill 812 and received permission.33
The official reason as recorded by the 2/5 Historical Diary is less dramatic. "The
reason for the displacement and the splitting of the command group was the impossible
laying and maintaining of telephone wire to the line companies and the exposed position
of Fox and Easy Companies to enemy fire. The Battalion Commander wanted to
maintain constant communications with all units and at the same time was unwilling to
have the group 'pinned down' and useless when needed most of all during a firefight or
Averill went on:
32 Gerald P. Averill, Mustang, 270-71.
33 Ibid., 271.
34 "Historical Diary," Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, 55-56.
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 August 30, 2015.