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

commanders. I think maybe they'd been selected. Most of their commanders had been
Japanese trained, you know . . . But there wasn't anything wrong with the Korean
Marines. They did some of the best fighting that was done for us."5
On August 30, to prepare for the attack, the KMC regiment placed its 3rd Battalion
(3/KMC) on Hill 793 halfway between Yoke Ridge and Line Kansas. From here, this
battalion outposted one company at Wolsan-ryong, a mountain pass near Hill 755 (See
Map # 16).6
Two battalions of the 1st KMC were the assault battalions for the regiment for this
first attack and they jumped off in column of battalions from Hill 793, sweeping by
Wolsan-ryong to pickup the outpost company along the way. The 3rd Battalion KMC
(3/KMC) was to take Hill 924 (which it called Mao Tze Tung Hill to stoke its Marines to
greater aggressiveness and make them realize their honor was at stake) while 1/KMC
passed beyond 924 to assail 1026 (called Kim II Sung Hill by the Korean Marines). Their
biggest troubles in the way of resistance shortly proved to be mine fields.7
Ralph B. Steele described his unit's encounter with these later in the battle:
We come off this main stream and start up a little narrow path, and the word
comes down we're finding mines.., but they got a guy up ahead, some
volunteer with a bayonet is probing in this rocky path, and when they find a mine
they take the ass wipe out of the C rations and they make a flag out of it and stick
it where the mine is.... They're only showing you the mines they find. There
might be other mines there . . . I stepped exactly where the guy in front of me
stepped. So [we had] to keep calling constantly . . . "hold the interval, hold the
interval. So I'm stepping right where he steps then they said take five and don't
get off the path. Squat right where you are . . . So in the meantime they've been
trying to get mortar rounds into this real narrow ravine, but the rounds are coming
over and they couldn't wiggle them in there. They were detonating on the bank
s Gerald C. Thomas Oral Memoir, 872-73.
6 Korean Institute of Military History, Korean War, Vol. 3, 151.
7 Korean Institute of Military History, Korean War, Vol. 3, 260-61.; 1st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," August
1951, 7-8. Korean Marines had more than just honor at stake in the fight, however, for if they were
captured by the NKPA they could expect only a swift execution by pistol-shot to the back of the head.

61

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 July 10, 2014.