A Combat View From the Point
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    Cool A Combat View From the Point

    A Combat View From the Point


    by Maj Thomas J. Pentecost, USMC(Ret)


    The glory days of the Korean War seemed to end with the Chosin Reservoir retrograde in December 1950. But thatís not when the fighting ended. In fact, the fighting remained very intense for the next 2 1/2 years. The author takes us for a closeup view of a fully engaged fire team at the point of a flanking movement in Korea.



    On 29 May 1951, I was the rifleman assigned to the 1st Fire Team, 2d Squad, 2d Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7). We were somewhere near the eastern coast of South Korea. That morning we had crossed a valley and gone up a very steep ridge. Another company from our battalion (C/1/7), had run into a strong North Korean position at the peak of that mountain. We joined another companyís north/south line (creating an L shape) making a secure flank to their east.


    As we prepared our nighttime positions, I was informed by my fire team leader, Cpl Marvin T. Treadwell, that at first light I was to be the point man for a flanking movement. This movement would go down into a valley created by two ridges between our current position and a feeder ridge to our north. We were to climb the north ridge from where we would attack the North Korean position that had held up our battalionís advance. This attack was to strike them from their left rear. The entire movement would be under direct observation by the enemy. In moving to survey our objective and plan my path, I saw and spoke to then-Col H.R. Nickerson, our regimental commander. He wished us ďgood luck.Ē It isnít often that a private first class gets to talk to a real colonel other than at office hours.


    The loneliness of being the point man in any movement to contact is an experience that is not among my favorites. Being the first man in line often makes survival a question of who first sees his opponent at the moment of contact.


    After a less than restful night, we assembled and started down that steep rock face and then up to the other ridge. Directly behind me was Cpl Treadwell, and our platoon leader, 1stLt Donald R. Semon, was behind him. As we approached to within 150 feet of the top, we came upon a large rock formation that precluded a safe, orderly advance. Cpl Treadwell recommended our fire team go to the right around the rock in order to block any enemy movement that could endanger our column. 1stLt Semon concurred. As we moved to the right, a number of enemy positions were unmasked. We soon saw between six and eight enemy soldiers running for their positions. Cpl Treadwell, PFC Morris K. Mundahl, and I fired on the enemy we could see, downing four of them. The others escaped into prepared emplacements. Simultaneously, the main column was struck by automatic weapons fire. We were recalled to the main body. As we came from behind the rocks I saw that our platoon leader had been shot in the right arm.

    Our fire team went into line with the 2d Fire Team and some Marines to their right. Our squad leader and the rest of our platoon were behind us. We were facing two fighting holes at a distance of about 25 or 30 feet. The enemy in the bunkers were now providing covering fire for these holes. The soldiers were armed with burp guns and grenades. Several grenades were thrown from the emplacements and/or the holes. The fire team leaders began trying to talk the enemy out of their holes. I was trying to shoot them. An enemy soldier to my left front raised out of his hole in order to throw a grenade. I was able to get a shot into him just above and slightly to the right of his belt buckle. We fired at the North Korean on the right. I saw multiple hits. We moved over a small crest and started climbing in order to flank these enemy positions. As we crossed the crest we saw an opening into a trench dug near the top of the hill. Cpl Treadwell moved to my right in order to try for a shot into the positions that had held us up a few minutes earlier. He was providing cover for another Marine and me. I went into the trench and entered a bunker near the opening. It was empty.


    Our team had become separated. I saw Cpl Treadwell and climbed from the trench to join him. He and I resumed the uphill attack. Our own machineguns began giving us covering fire. Five or ten meters farther up the hill we saw a bunker located near the peak of our objective. Cpl Treadwell moved past the trench to the top of the bunker. My intention was to jump into the circular trench near the bunker. This plan altered abruptly. The ground seemed to explode as more gunfire broke around us. Two North Koreans, firing as they came, ran from the bunker at my feet. Cpl Treadwell started shooting into the bunker through the dirt on top. I shot the two coming out of the entrance from the first trench and joined in eliminating several other enemy soldiers as they were driven from the bunker. These actions seemed to trigger a general advance that culminated in clearing a large portion of the objective.






    A Marine 75mm recoilless rifle crew opposing a Chinese Communist attack in April 1951.


    continued.....

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  2. #2
    Our fire team went into line with the 2d Fire Team and some Marines to their right. Our squad leader and the rest of our platoon were behind us. We were facing two fighting holes at a distance of about 25 or 30 feet. The enemy in the bunkers were now providing covering fire for these holes. The soldiers were armed with burp guns and grenades. Several grenades were thrown from the emplacements and/or the holes. The fire team leaders began trying to talk the enemy out of their holes. I was trying to shoot them. An enemy soldier to my left front raised out of his hole in order to throw a grenade. I was able to get a shot into him just above and slightly to the right of his belt buckle. We fired at the North Korean on the right. I saw multiple hits. We moved over a small crest and started climbing in order to flank these enemy positions. As we crossed the crest we saw an opening into a trench dug near the top of the hill. Cpl Treadwell moved to my right in order to try for a shot into the positions that had held us up a few minutes earlier. He was providing cover for another Marine and me. I went into the trench and entered a bunker near the opening. It was empty.


    Our team had become separated. I saw Cpl Treadwell and climbed from the trench to join him. He and I resumed the uphill attack. Our own machineguns began giving us covering fire. Five or ten meters farther up the hill we saw a bunker located near the peak of our objective. Cpl Treadwell moved past the trench to the top of the bunker. My intention was to jump into the circular trench near the bunker. This plan altered abruptly. The ground seemed to explode as more gunfire broke around us. Two North Koreans, firing as they came, ran from the bunker at my feet. Cpl Treadwell started shooting into the bunker through the dirt on top. I shot the two coming out of the entrance from the first trench and joined in eliminating several other enemy soldiers as they were driven from the bunker. These actions seemed to trigger a general advance that culminated in clearing a large portion of the objective.


    There was a saddle and a peak area about 150 to 200 yards to the front of our new position. We shot at the running enemy and the emplacements where they were taking cover. We started receiving small arms and mortar fire from this area. A heated firefight developed. We exchanged fire until Company A relieved us. Our team had expended its unit of fire. We took our wounded and were directed to move to an area where we were masked from direct enemy fire.


    The enemy began to pound Company A with machineguns, mortars, and 76mm recoilless rifle fire. Our supporting arms began to strike adjacent hills. Airstrikes were called. As casualties increased, Company C joined the fight. They, too, began taking casualties. This mounting crisis prompted the corpsmen to ask for rescue/evacuation help. Our platoon sergeant took volunteers back to the ridge to help remove the wounded. We made individual trips under fire out to the ridge to help evacuate the casualties. We helped the walking wounded and others that needed to be carried.


    The fighting died down as it started getting dark. Our squad reassembled, and I saw that Cpl Treadwell had received a head wound during our rescue efforts that day. After a bad night Cpl Treadwell went to the aid station. It had been a pretty hectic day of fighting. We would wait for more the next day.


    >Maj Pentecost is retired and lives in Destin, FL.


    >>Editorís Note: Maj Pentecost was the driving force in securing late awards for several Marines in that same combat action. The awards were presented in 2001.




    7th Marines tank-infantry patrol in Chunchon, South Korea, 1951.




    Marine infantry on the march to Chunchon in the spring of 1951.

    http://www.mca-marines.org/Gazette/sting.html

    Sempers,

    Roger


    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

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