on these ridgelines to pour a converging fire into attackers limited by the terrain to a
One Marine approach to deal with this was "ridge running." Major Gerald P. Averill,
the S-3 (operations officer) of 2/5 (2nd Bn, 5th Marines) during September 1951,
described how his CO executed such a technique:
His method was to attack along the long axis of a ridgeline wherever possible,
regardless of whether the ridge ran parallel to the direction of attack or
perpendicular to it. Gain the high ground from the flanks and rear and then
advance along the long axis, rolling up the enemy as you moved. Security
elements, squads or fire teams could work down the finger ridges and clear them
from the rear. The attack might be launched using a single company along a
single ridge line or, by employing two or more companies, adjacent ridge lines
could be cleared simultaneously. If the ridge line formed a cross-compartment,
we would forego [sic] a frontal attack and, by a series of flanking actions, gain the
high ground and attack along the narrow, hard-to-defend, long axis. Of course,
he told us, there would be instances when we would be forced into a stand-up-
and-walk-in slugging match, but if we were careful and used the ridges properly,
we would not get our noses bloodied too often.44
The Punchbowl Offensive of Fall 1951, however, would be one of those nose-
bloodying occasions. On the tactical level, the terrain would dictate little maneuver, and
the Marines would be forced to frontal assault many of the enemy positions.45
The 7th Marines had to cross the Soyang River to get to their assembly areas. The
river was high and the current was strong from flooding. Some battalions had to use
amphibious trucks (DUKWs) to make the crossing.46
43 Lynn Montross, et al., The East-Central Front, 138; "Intelligence Study FMF," 7 April to 31 August 1951,
"Tactical Study of Weather and Terrain: Yanggu-Inje Area," and "Tactical Study of Mandae-ri Area,"
Marine Corps Korean war document CD collection, CD #15, page 7-8 of the latter, particularly.
44 Gerald P. Averill, Mustang: A Combat Marine, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988): 215-16.
45 However, speaking of the operational level, General Thomas said:
... There's nothing wrong with a frontal assault carried out the right way, where you seek out some
enemy resistance and break through them, and Ridgway did that all the way up the peninsula. . . . You
won't find Army officers going to the sea. Army officers will always want to fight on land, just like they did
at Okinawa [referring to the veto of a shore to shore operation there to get behind the Japanese
defenses]. So they just battered their way up the peninsula, and there wasn't anything particularly wrong
with it because Ridgway had the strength to break through and exploit it. He made real progress after he
took command of Eighth Army. . . . --Gerald C. Thomas Oral Memoir, 881-82.
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 November 26, 2015.