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Clarence Bloodsworth


BLOODSWORTH
MIA – KIA
By F. Walden Storie


It was June 11, 1933, in Marion County Iowa, a bouncing baby boy was born to Tom and Corlena Bloodsworth. The Bloodsworth family was living in the small town of Pella Iowa which was surrounded by rich farmland. Tom, Corlena and the two children ,Virgil and Elma, were enjoying a new baby by the name of Clarence Eugene. The three children grew up in Pella, Iowa but the family moved to Polk County in the area of Des Moines when Clarence was of high school age. It seems Clarence was a bit unhappy with his new school. He eventually dropped out and got a job.

It was during this point in time that there was trouble brewing in Southeast Asia – Korea. The United States was at war with North Korea and the CCF, attempting to stop the spread of communism in that region.

Knowing that he could soon be drafted, Clarence, instead enlisted in the army in 1952. It appeared that his destination would be the Korean War. A few short months later he found himself assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division in the Iron Triangle in North Korea. When Clarence was assigned to Baker Company of the 15th Regiment, I was currently in the first platoon of that company.

In my previous writing concerning my O.P. Harry experience, I mentioned two soldiers – Clarence Bloodsworth and Kaye Francis. While looking back at this page on our O.P. Harry website, I recall saying Bloodsworth and Francis is another story to be told (concerning the Korean War).

Many times as I attempt to get my thoughts together, especially in the proper sequence, I have trouble recalling due to the large number of people, places and events crowding my mind. I sometimes must stop, rewind and start over again.

I don’t recall the exact date Clarence joined Baker Company but I remember that it was early May 1953. The first time we met was about two or three weeks prior to the siege of O.P. Harry. One day while walking past a bunker, I observed some G.I.’s admiring a weapon which looked like a .38 caliber revolver with a leather holster. As it looked very new and expensive, I asked, “ Who does that piece belong to?’ The reply was – “Bloodsworth”. This very nice weapon had been sent to him by his father.

I never got to know Clarence very well. We were not close friends. I have recently been told by others that he was a very good soldier. Clarence was not in my squad, but I saw him daily. He was part of a B.A.R. team. (Browning Auto Rifle)

Baker Company of the 15th Regiment was placed in blocking position on the tenth of June, moving off the main line early that morning. Our rifle companies were usually rotating from line, to blocking, to outpost. It was the eleventh of June and Baker Company was having a good lunch and a brief service by our Chaplain. We did not have to be told where we would spend the night. I still recall the reading of the 23rd Psalms by our Chaplain and how that reading took on a little more solemn meaning than before.

It was early evening as we were moving from the blocking area by trucks. We were dropped off about a mile from our objective – O.P. Harry. Our approach to the outpost was partially covered by camouflage screens and smoke screens as we walked single file to the outpost. We reached the base of the hill before darkness came and could see the hundreds of dead enemy soldiers all around the area. Some were stacked three or four deep on the sides of the trenches and the stench was unbelievable.

This night the eleventh of June was the second night of the siege of O.P. Harry. The night of the tenth, Captain Markley’s King Company of the 15th Regiment was in defense of the outpost. This was the start of the eight day siege of O.P Harry. While being placed in our defensive positions someone changed our three automatic weapon’s positions and placed us in an area now called “the finger” , a trench running to the right. I saw Clarence Bloodsworth and Kaye Francis being placed in the automatic rifle bunker. Just beyond that bunker our two machine guns were in the open trench that ran to the east about 30 or 40 paces. The only overhead cover was at the end of this trench which was where the first gun with Cpl. Marschke and Pfc. Cost was placed. My weapon, the second gun, was at the entrance to the trench and placed on the rim of the trench. Our ammo bearers and others were deployed along the trench between the two machine guns. My assistant gunner was Julian Moore.

The first few hours that evening were fairly quiet except for the constant rumble of our big guns as they pounded the enemy whom we knew were preparing to assault our positions on O.P Harry----the hill to be held at all costs.

I, along with Bloodsworth, and others were at a disadvantage as many of us were on this hill for the first time and were not familiar with the surrounding terrain. Our light, thirty caliber guns had only the bipod attached. The tripod was too much extra weight to carry. We always had a strap to carry it on the shoulder and could fire it from that position if needed.

At 12:05 a.m., the Chinese are now moving up the hill under their own artillery fire, as they were assaulting our positions on O.P. Harry. I had placed my machine gun on the rim of the trench while looking down the steep slope at only darkness, able to see absolutely nothing. I was somewhat startled to hear men moving in my direction from the #1 gun position. As I was pulling my weapon from the rim to the bottom of the trench, ready to fire at the enemy head-on, I quickly realized that this was some of our own troops scrambling for some kind of overhead cover from the raining of artillery.

It was at this time that my assistant and I had backed up three or four paces into a hole that had been dug out into the bank. It was in this “chink hole” that we were able to aim our weapon down this trench quite effectively. Some other troops had also tried to occupy this same position. I asked the men to move and spread out being that one grenade could take all of us out. I needed to be able to reposition my weapon. As the men moved for better cover in the main trench, I was able to upright my weapon. The bolt and breech, however, was jammed from all the dirt of being trampled. Having lots of ammo and a weapon that didn’t work, I found myself alone with seven or eight grenades and my .45 caliber side arm. There was no one is sight.

I remember Marschke and Cost were still firing, and did so for some time as they were the number one machine gun. As I moved backward into the main trench, down the slope about ten paces to the front of the bunker, where I saw Bloodsworth and Francis assigned earlier. I stopped in front of that bunker and could see the enemy position by the flash of their burp-guns. It appeared they were ready to turn into the main trench and face me head on. They were at the same position I had just vacated, possibly checking out my disabled weapon.

I kept tossing grenades at the flash of their weapons just around the corner. As I was tossing the grenades over the rim of the trench I was making sure one did not roll back in my direction. I believer the grenades gave me a chance to position myself in front of the Automatic rifle bunker. As the enemy kept getting closer, I was thinking this bunker is my ace in the hole.

It seemed that my grenades had been very effective for a while. I once tried to pull the pin from a grenade with my .45 in my hand – but it didn’t work that way. I discharged my .45 into the bank and I heard a voice from the bunker call out “ Are you OK?” and my reply was positive, of course.

When I was down to my last grenade, I pulled the pin and held on to the grenade. At the same time, I spotted a box of what I thought was grenades in the trench nearby. As I removed the lid of the box, I was thinking that I could just keep tossing grenades in their direction. While attempting to open this box of grenades, an enemy grenade landed near me. The artillery flares gave off enough light that I could see the grenade land beside me. I went to my right, away from it and hit the ground, face down. I placed my hands over the back of my neck to protect me from the grenade fragments in that area. Yes, the grenade was still in my right hand, lever down. Although it was armed, I held it tightly. The exploding of the enemy grenade sent a piece of shrapnel into my left side, just below the ribcage, and into my small intestine area.

At this point, I crawled backward into the bunker and found a rifle sticking in my rear. At the same time, Clarence Bloodsworth asked, “Who is It?”. I was very prompt with my reply. After entering the bunker, I came to realize that I still had the armed grenade in my hand and without anyone knowing, I threw the grenade back into the trench.

It was soon after that I entered the bunker that the enemy charged the bunker two or three times. They were fought off by Bloodsworth’s rifle team and Julian Moore, who was using my .45 caliber at the time. When I crawled in to the bunker I was the only one wounded. One grenade came into the bunker and it seemed to be a ball of fire as it exploded. I believe everyone in the bunker was wounded from that blast. Later, another enemy soldier was killed by Moore and Bloodsworth.

I don’t remember how much time had lapsed when I suggested to the men that if they were wounded and bleeding to try to stay awake. It was some time later, a second grenade came in and I believe it was thrown through the
aperture of the bunker—the opposite side from where I was sitting. The impact seemed to be near Francis and Bloodsworth.

I think I may have blacked out or had an illusion for a while because some of the things I remember seeing could not have happened. The many hits our bunker took was causing it to collapse. One timber from the bunker upended and came into the entrance, hitting no one. The entrance to the bunker was closed off and the sand bags had fallen around me to the point I could hardly move. The four of us were entombed for the next several hours.

When it became light enough, Moore and I, with our belts, applied tourniquets to each of Moore’s legs to help slow the blood loss. My bleeding was mostly internal except for my foot wound. I could feel the blood as it seem to be filling my boot.

We took the first hit a little past midnight. Now, about 8:00 a.m. , the sun is shining and some enemy artillery is coming in occasionally. It was now light enough to see how the last grenade had impacted the B.A.R. team of Bloodsworth and Francis. The concussion grenade had been fatal to both, as was visible by the bleeding of their ears, nose and eyes.

Our bunker must have appeared to be a total collapse. I knew it was light outside. I could hear our troops talking and realized the hill was still in our possession. I called out for a medic just as I had done before, but this time a very welcomed voiced told everyone to listen. I called out once again, but a little louder. The medic yelled out as to where we were and they began digging us out of our collapsed bunker. We identified ourselves as Baker Company and the carbine that was pointed at us was put away.

I helped Moore to get to the exit as best I could. The medic pulled us out backwards, head first. After Moore was taken, they came back for me. In the meantime, I was trying to move some sandbags and position myself for an easy rescue. Once outside the bunker, the medic asked me how many more were still in the bunker. I replied, “two”.

Then the medic called for more help and more litters. This medic said that he was from Baker Company, 5th RCT. I informed him that the two remaining were in “no pain”. He had asked if they were OK and my reply was, “they're dead”.

I was removed from O.P. Harry, leaving Clarence Bloodsworth and Kaye Francis in that bunker together, both deceased. After O.P. Harry, three hospitals and a 14 month tour of duty in Japan, I finally arrived home the week of my birthday in October of 1954.

I was back at my old job by Thanksgiving that same year. My sweet wife Cora was there patiently waiting to help me put it together and start over again.

At this point in my story, I must fast forward about twenty five years. I was in the G.M. plant where I was employed when a young fellow (my age) by the name of G. Jewett (15th Regiment, Heavy Mortar Co.) came to me with a book he had received from the military at the close of the Korean War. This book was about the last six months of the war and contained pictures with a lot of data concerning that time period. This very interesting book was loaned to me to review. (Years later I was able to purchase a copy.)

This book contained statistics concerning MIA's and KIA's during this six month period. I learned by these statistics about Clarence Bloodsworth's mistaken status of MIA as well as eight others in Baker Company who were declared MIA or KIA. I remember my first remarks concerning Bloodsworth's MIA status. I had said, “This is a misprint. In that bunker twenty five years ago on Outpost Harry, these two men were together and were both KIA.” The reports, however, listed Francis as killed in action, while Bloodsworth was listed as missing in action. I had left the two men side by side as the (BAR) Browning Rifle Team.

The mystery in all this is how do they find Francis, without finding Bloodsworth? Years have passed since I first read that information concerning the status of the two men in question.

While attending Outpost Harry reunions in the mid nineties, I met a young lady by the name of Rhonda. She was the daughter of Ron Bradley who was also named a MIA from Baker Company. Rhonda attended an MIA meeting in Omaha, Nebraska where she met another family who was there for the same reason. She met some of the Bloodsworth family who were also searching for some closure due to the same MIA status of their loved one.

The chance of this meeting happening in such a fashion is very unusual. The family of Ron Bradley and the family of Clarence Bloodsworth came together by chance for the same reason, from the same Baker Company, same hill, same night and same platoon.

Rhonda mentioned to the Bloodsworth family that I was with Clarence when he was killed on June 11, 1953 on O.P. Harry. I am sure this came as a shock to the family, having been assured all these forty seven years that he was missing in action. The Bloodsworth's family members at the Omaha meeting were Elma, a sister (with her husband,Bob Beyer) and Virgil, the older brother of Clarence. It was a very short time after this MIA meeting, that I received a call from the Bloodsworth family.

It was just a few months from the first contact, that we arranged to meet at the home of Bob and Elma Beyer in Pella, Iowa where Clarence grew up. My wife, Cora, and I have had an exchange of visits with family members of Clarence Bloodsworth over the years since we first met in 2000. A friendship has developed and six members of this family were my special guests at our 2006 OP Harry reunion in Des Moines. I was hoping to bring some closure to the Bloodsworth MIA issue as I met with the family a few years ago. I am not sure that it was enough.

It has been difficult trying to compete with the statistics of the U.S. Army concerning the MIA status of Clarence Bloodsworth. His MIA status does not coincide with my memory of that horrible night and the death of Bloodsworth on June 11, 1953. In my opinion, the military's statistics are not accurate and his body was obviously not recovered or was not recoverable for some strange reason. I believe this mystery will always be with me as I try to determine how the body of this young man was not found in the battlefield.

Reports have come to me in later years, that all bunkers and trenches were cleared of all dead and wounded on that same day. I have spoken to officer Jim Evans who was in charge of getting this done. He has indicated that this task was completed on June 12, 1953.

Over a period of the last twelve years, I have had interviews with three officials from the MIA section of the Pentagon. Two of these interviews were in person while one was by phone. I have no indication that any information has been found regarding Clarence Bloodsworth.

Corporal Clarence E. Bloodsworth , like many others, gave his all as he served diligently and courageously in every way. May we always remember those that have come forth to serve our country as they put themselves in harms way. And for my friend, Clarence Bloodsworth, and the thousands who paid the same ultimate price—we shall forever be indebted as we continue to enjoy the freedoms of this great land.

May we always remember: “The nation which forgets is defenders, will itself be forgotten.”

Once again, it was June 11th, 1953, the 20th birthday of Clarence Eugene Bloodsworth-- as he passes from this life while defending freedom. During what is known as the siege of O.P. Harry, there are many reasons why that outpost was never lost. These reasons were courage, faith and tenacity of the many soldiers just like Clarence Bloodsworth.

A grief stricken family in Iowa joins the many thousands across our land who suffer from the cost of war. May God Bless them all.

WE HELD!

Written by: An OP Harry Survivor,
F. Walden Storie


P.S. The young man, Kaye Francis, who was the other half of that BAR team, was listed as killed in action and was returned that same year to his home of Fayette County, Kentucky where he was laid to rest. Jim Fields, a friend of Kaye Francis and “D” Company Soldier, spent a lot of time and energy doing research and found the final resting place of Francis. My friend, Jim Fields, and I have plans to visit his burial site as well as family (hopefully), this year (2007).


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©Copyright 2007, F. Walden Storie.  All rights reserved