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

ridges that rippled out from the peaks were a defender's dream and attacker's worst
nightmare. And they were defended. In this area were some of the fiercest fighters the
North Korean People's Army (NKPA) had.16 (See Map # 13)
June ushered in some of the harshest fighting of the war for the Marines as they
drove north to the Kansas Line. Here the 1st Marines lost more men than it had in the
Chosin Reservoir Campaign's harshest month, December 1950. The Marine division
itself had to pay the butcher 183 KIA (Killed in Action) and almost 2000 WIA to reach its
objectives. The battle foreshadowed the fighting that would occur in August and
September in the same area, because the Marines could not use artillery effectively
because of the high peaks, deep valleys, and uncooperative nature of the terrain, and
CAS was slow in coming, inaccurate when it got there, and low in quantity.
(Furthermore, artillery use was limited due to imposed restrictions on ammunition by
EUSAK.) Here the versatile nature of air power was the perfect supporting weapon, if it
could be delivered as the Marines wanted it. With the right selection of armament, and
the ability to attack a target from the best direction and angle, even the rear, CAS was
what the situation called for. However, the Marines would end up having to do things the
hard way with inadequate support, by going cave to cave, bunker to bunker, and pillbox
to pillbox with hand grenades and rifle fire to eradicate the enemy.17
To make matters worse, the NKPA enemy in this area was almost as reluctant to
surrender as the Japanese had been in World War II. They held their positions to the
last. The Marines would have to pay in blood to own their turf. One World War II veteran
called it "the toughest fighting I have ever seen." But that Marine had moved on by
16 Ibid.
17 st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 12; Allan R. Millett, Drive North, 18-37; U. S. Pacific
Fleet, "Third Interim Evaluation Report," Chapter 15.

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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 21, 2014.