and on the hillside right over here next to us. All of the sudden there's an
explosion right behind me, damn near lifted my helmet off, you know, big
concussion like this, and I thought Jesus Christ they've got a mortar round . . . of
course somebody behind hollers, "Corpsman!!" - well they didn't say "corpsman."
Baumgartner was his name. We were told not to call "corpsman." Call them his
name because the gook would understand we have injured if they heard
"corpsman."... so [the corpsman] came down with his assistant.., and turned
out it wasn't a mortar round at all. They guy walking either behind me or the guy
behind him had unloosened his pack when they said take five and leaned against
the embankment and leaned right on a land mine. . . that was a KIA right there.8
The NKPA defenders offered only a smattering of mortar and machine gun fire
initially. The ability of units in this area to maneuver was severely hobbled by the terrain
and mud, and even forward movement was difficult. Because of toughening resistance,
however, the 1st Battalion KMC (1/KMC) received orders in the early afternoon (1445) to
pass through 3/KMC and continue the attack on Hill 924; 1026 would have to wait.
Resistance increased, and troops bogged down by minefields were lucrative targets for
enemy mortar and artillery fire.9
Similarly light resistance greeted 3/7 in their attack, but it increased steadily with
the advance. Morning found 3/7 dug in east of Hill 793. George, How, and Item
Companies had moved out by 0600, but had to halt when an "adjacent unit" failed to
move out on schedule. The attack was not really underway until 1005. They attacked
Hill 702 through heavy minefields and at least one barrage from artillery and mortars.
The First Battalion, 7th Marines helped in the assault from its position east of the river
with supporting fire from mortars (Hills 660 and 516). By 1430, 3/7 was "receiving heavy
8 Ralph B. Steele Interview Transcript, Library of Congress.
9 st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," August 1951, 7; Lynn Montross, et al., The East-Central Front, 178.
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 January 19, 2017.