Left to right: Capt. Panos Jannetos, Father Andrew, Lt. Demetrious Papadopoulos, Lt. Gene Morris F.O. (probably 39th. F.A.) and two G.Is presumed to be Verlin Rogers and Rab Burgess, also of the 39th. F.A.
Demetrious Papadopoulos on Outpost Dick
June 11, 1953 - Thursday night
On the right flank of our positions the Chinese are launching a series of strong attacks. It appears that they want to capture outpost Harry. The other night it was real hell over there! The Chinese were making repeated attacks to obtain their objective. But when they were almost on top of the outpost, the American troops made a counter attack and finally forced them to withdraw.
What a catastrophe! Thousands of rounds of artillery, mortars and rocket fire were falling from 2200 hours until morning. The last wave of the enemy attack was made at 0600 in daylight. But again the Chinese were repelled from the outpost.
Listen! Tonight the Chinese are attacking again. They are determined to take the outpost. But what kind of hill is it? From our position it seems like an insignificant bald barren hill that nothing or anyone could possibly live on or want to live on. However, it has great tactical importance so the 3rd Infantry Division says. It has the highest elevation in the area except for the Chinese outpost Star that is just north of Harry and is not much more than 300 - 500 yards away.
I am afraid that the Chinese are going to be successful and take outpost Harry tonight. Yesterday the 15th Infantry Regiment had 200 dead and wounded soldiers and the Chinese lost an estimated 1500 troops. A very bloody affair and a high price to pay to preserve Harry.
The searchlights are illuminating the whole vicinity of Harry. The artillery batteries have turned this night into a disaster! I don't hear anything else but the continuous roar of the artillery fire. At this moment I wonder how many Americans are holding their chests and screaming in pain and closing their eyes leaving their souls ‑ to fly to no one knows... However, they are fighting against communism. The United Nations forces have come here to keep this country free. It is emotional to see Americans, Greeks, Belgians, Frenchmen, Ethiopians and many others fighting shoulder to shoulder under the same flag!
How could I record these horrible events amidst the continuous her of explosions and the whistling of shells and shrapnel knowing that men are dying at this very moment, in order to read it back like an old phonograph when I’m an old man? But what am I saying? Who knows if I will be alive tomorrow... It would be better for me to say ... Thank God for keeping me alive one more day!
June 15,1953 - Monday morning
Terrible news has come to our battalion this morning. In a few hours we are leaving our present positions to defend outpost harros. (in Greek language the name of death is "harros." so the Greek soldiers pronounce the Harry as "harros" and they were using it as a joke.)
Two American battalions were practically decimated by the continuous attacks by the Chinese and now it is our turn to defend the outpost. Every night for the past five nights the Chinese have launched awful attacks. All of the American companies sent to defend the outpost have suffered almost total destruction.
There is great possibility that I might be killed on this God forsaken Korean hill. Perhaps I will have the same bad luck as hundreds of Americans have had. It is difficult for me to think that my last breath alive will be here in Far East so distant from my homeland and my family. Is that my Destiny?
All of us are very anxious. I can see in the eyes of my comrades pale faces as well as cool and hardened ones. We know very well that tomorrow we shall have a lot of casualties. We are going to a real slaughter, to a real execution ...may the blessed Virgin Mary keep us well…
June 17th 1953 - Wednesday
I am at the bottom of Outpost Harry. Yesterday our company "C" went up on the outpost. We are ready to reinforce them with a counter attack if the Chinese approach the top of the outpost. Last night there was no attack.
The American engineers, the Korean labors and our soldiers are working hard on the hill to open and repair the new bunkers. An hour ago I had a short call from Jimmy (interpreter of "C" Company.) He told me "The odor of dead Chinese is making us faint" the situation is indescribable. All is in ruins and death is everywhere.
Tomorrow or the day after is my turn to go up on the outpost. It might be the last time I will be writing in my diary. I have never been in such great danger in my whole life as I have been for the past few days. "May God forgive me, His will be done".
June 21,1953 - Sunday night
I am in a C.P. bunker on top of Outpost Harry. I am writing in the light of a small candle. It's a quiet night, so I have the chance to describe the facts from the beginning, since June 18th. Fortunately, we didn't face any other Chinese attacks the last three nights. During this time our finger is always on the trigger and we are waiting ... From time to time the Chinese remember us and they send mortar rounds in on our positions and bunkers. I am quite sure these days are the most critical of my life. They will be unforgettable. Very few people have seen such horrible sights... Last Wednesday night our battalion fought bravely against the Chinese. Especially company "C" as they fought hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. (In Greek we call it a body-to-body combat.) Three platoons of company "A" and "B" reinforced the efforts of Company "C" to drive the enemy out of the trenches. We had 6 dead and 21 wounded and 2 wounded platoon leaders.
At 1300 hours on June 18th we got in carriers and we started moving to the top of Outpost Harry. I whispered a prayer. I am sure that the others did the same. The M39 personnel carrier roars like a lion threatening the Gods and the devils (Greek expression). It wants to scare the barbarians, the evil Chinese for the destruction which they caused us and our American friends. Here it is!! The outpost is in front of us and near us!! There is not one tree standing. It has a black color because it's been pounded by thousands of rounds of explosives. We got off the carriers and started up the trench line quickly. We are sweating profusely as the trench line up Harry is very steep. When we arrived at the C.P. bunker it's a ground hole with a few pieces of wood and sandbags. When I got into the bunker I noticed many marks all around the wood and the bags that were probably the result of hand grenade fragments. Perhaps a Chinese threw the grenade in one of the previous nights of fighting.
Immediately Captain Jannetos, the American forward observer 2nd Lt. Morris and I started walking and bending down along the trench line in order to make our first reconnaissance of the vicinity. "Oh my God, how could I count the dead Chinese?" bodies are everywhere.
A dozen of them are pinned up on the barbed wire in different positions, which indicated their efforts to approach and destroy our machine gun positions and bunkers. Fortunately, our well armed Force reaped them down as though they were ears of wheat! (Greek expression) the stench of the decomposed dead Chinese is unbearable. Particularly in the north forward area where the men of the 1st Platoon were working to open the destroyed trenches and bunkers. The soldiers had to cover their noses with kerchiefs to protect themselves from the odor.
In the forward northern trenches I could see half buried Chinese as their arms and legs were not covered with soil. Their rifles, swords and caps were mixed with helmets, clothes or bags of our troops. Again, it's the result of hand to hand combat. I noticed one dead Chinese next to me. He was just a boy, 17 to 18 years old with his hair cut very short and very skinny. He had a series of bullet holes around his waist and was carrying a small bag of boiled rice. Evidently, it was his only food. Youth is dying on both sides... Young men are leaving their souls to fly to the heavens. So early, so untimely. "God be merciful to me, I don't want to leave my strong and young body to be buried on this damn hill"...
The illuminating shells are falling continuously in order to warn us in time of an enemy approach and a surprise attack. The United Nations have trusted the valuable outpost Harry in our hands because they believe that we are good fighters as our ancestors were. For this reason we must hold this "beloved hill" regardless of the cost of blood of the loss of life.
It's 0300 in the morning. I feel tired and my eyelids are heavy. The daybreak is coming in two hours. Only then will I will be closing my eyes to take a nap. Thanking God for a quiet night...
©Copyright 2002, Demetrious Papadopullos. All rights reserved