Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War Page: 134
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still attempting this movement at 0700. Enemy fire was heavy and bogged the units
Ralph B. Steele was with Fox in the assault:
Then the next morning we jump off and we-again, we don't know what
the situation [is]. We don't know if the Gooks had pulled out or what until ...
Well, it turned out they hadn't, so we had to make an attack and we came up....
A Napalm canister burned up, tin was there and we were being brought up and
we were trying to envelop this positions, and the lieutenant was releasing the
guys one at a time. And to me this was the moment of truth because when these
guys would run across there you could see the dirt popping up from being fired
from this bunker . . . We had a machine gun back here that was firing into that
bunker. When [the lieutenant] heard that machine gun fire he would release us.
That way momentarily they ducked and we would have a better chance of getting
across. Again, the same lieutenant that released us in mass in another tactical
situation. That's why those aren't dumb guys that are wearing-for the most part
wearing those bars. This guy was clever. He had a different tactical problem, and
nobody's coaching him. We're 18, 20 year old kids and this guy's a 23, 24-year
old man . . . So anyway, that's me running here and I thought because they
couldn't get their guns depressed, if I can get to that Napalm tin, I'll have it made.
... So we got there. Here's where a brave thing happens. This is what
makes boot camp training professionalism absolutely witness to good training.
We were pinned down. I and the rest of our squad had our heads as close to the
ground as we could on account of this bunker firing, but the platoon sergeant
came up on his knees and commanded return that fire. We jumped up or stood
up, stand up, came up on our knees as one and returned that fire and got fire
supremacy. Would I do that today? I would say are you nuts? ... No. Training.
Number one, tremendous act of bravery. I mean, that's -command initiative from
a sergeant, doesn't get any medal, you know. And he's right in the face of that
fire commanded to us, return that fire. Again, our training was so good we didn't
think except to return that fire.51
Fox finally contacted elements of 2/1 at 1220 and began heading for the rear. Dog
attacked at 1430. It and Easy were "continually receiving heavy enemy mortar, small
arms, and automatic fire."
The Marines of 2/1 were supposed to relieve the rest of 2/7, but these elements
(companies Dog and Easy) were thought to be on the reverse slope of Hill 749. Both 2/1
so Second Battalion, 1s Marine Regiment, "Historical Diary," September 1951, 6.
si Transcript of Interview with Ralph B. Steele, Library of Congress.
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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War, thesis, August 2007; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/m1/149/?rotate=90: accessed February 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .