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

reverse slope of a ridge]. This procedure requires but a few minutes. It is flexible
and decisive. A minimum of time elapses between the time of request for a
mission and the execution of the mission.37
As for the factor of close impacts --meaning the strike could be delivered in very
close proximity to friendly lines well within the limits of artillery range, the following quote
from Andrew Geer is informative:
The daily risks Marine airmen take to assist the Marine on the ground are
the direct result of esprit, training and indoctrination. The Marine aviator believes
the chief reason for his existence is to furnish assistance to the rifleman on the
ground. By "close" the Marines mean the immediate area of the front lines.
As a result of continual association and training, Marine air and ground
personnel have worked out a system designed to deliver "customer satisfaction,"
the customer in this case being the rifleman. Marine airmen have made many
new and happy customers in the United Nations forces in Korea.
One Army infantry captain wrote in the Combat Forces Journal, "Our
tactical air arm should spend a few months with the Marines. I don't know what
causes the difference, but it is there. The Marine pilots give us the impression
that they are breaking their hearts to help us out and are as much in the show as
we are."38
An example of CAS close to the lines that also shows the potential tactical
decisiveness of such close CAS is from the battle for Obong-ni Ridge, 18 August 1950.
To illustrate the importance of air support at the right time and place, we
return . . . [to the battle of Obong-ni Ridge]. Marine ground forces had already
suffered two hundred and sixty-seven casualties. Fenton and Stevens, with two
depleted companies [there were only two rifle companies per battalion at this
time - the third was absent due to peacetime T/Os - so this battalion had not the
ordinary reserve to help it], held a precarious foothold. Throughout the night they
had barely managed to fight off strong enemy counterattacks.
Continued penetration of the enemy's lines was essential. At seven
o'clock Stevens resumed the attack to dislodge the enemy on Hill 117. Despite
heavy supporting fires from mortars and artillery, the assault unit was pinned
down by a nest of four machine guns on the eastern slope.
Further assault by the Marines of Able Company would have been
extremely costly and there was doubt that even a resolute attack would be
37 Ibid., IV-B-6. "Battalions are not required to consult with or receive assent from higher echelons, in
regard to requests for air support or in regard to control of aircraft delegated for accomplishing supporting
38 Andrew Geer, New Breed, 190.


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. Accessed January 22, 2017.