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

When I speak of "hills," they should actually be called "mountains." They were
rough and rugged, covered with pines and other trees. Most of the hills on the
east coast were only 3,000-4,000 feet high, but when starting at near sea level,
that was tall. We soon learned that going up was easier than going down. When
it got too steep going up we could go on all fours. The problem going down
carrying 60 to 80 pounds was that if we lost our footing and fell, we knew we
would probably only be stopped when we hit a tree 20 or 30 feet down the hill. All
we could do was hope that we would survive.22
X Corps first attempted to use only a portion of its strength to accomplish its
objective, and because the truce-talks were still under way until August 23, only ROK
units were to be utilized. It was during attacks in mid August that the 36th ROK
Regiment attached to the U. S. 2nd Inf Div, and the 8th ROK Div, ran into problems,
namely high casualties for minor advances, and formidable enemy resistance in heavily
fortified, inaccessible terrain. This led X Corps commander, MajGen (Major General)
Byers, after the Communists walked out of the peace-talks, to widen the attack to
include the whole corps front. An attack by 1 Mar Div to the east of the Punchbowl
would alleviate the difficulties these other X Corps units were having with "Bloody
Ridge" to the west, drawing away NKPA firepower and resources, thus "relieving
pressure" and helping that action to succeed. It was to this end that he set a new
defensive/phase line, Line Hays, north of the Kansas Line. This line was the objective
for the Marines' assault.23 (See Map # 13)
Monsoon season was heavy in Korea that year, and so the roads soon became
choked with vehicles and equipment bogged down in the thick and ever abundant mud.
Portions of the narrow, ill-kept, and sparse roads were wiped out in mudslides, and
22 Oral memoir of Jon Charles Genrich at KoreanWarEducator.org.
23 Headquarters EUSAK, "Command Report," August 1951, G-3 section, book 4, part 3, Message from
Van Fleet to Byers dated 14 August 1951 (National Archives, RG 407, Records of U. S. Army Field
Commands, Command Reports, 1949-1954); Walter Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front, 85; Korea
Institute of Military History, The Korean War, Vol. 3 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001,
originally published in Seoul, Korea, 1999), 148-49.

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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 April 26, 2015.