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Donald A. Chase

Korean Hills

The rugged battle field in Korea, 
   contained many hills with well known names.
Deadly fighting took place on their slopes, 
   but sometimes all in vain.

Jackson Heights was such a place, 
   where a lot of blood was spilled.
The end result was many deaths,
   and the enemy controlling the hill.

Outpost Tom and Outpost Dick, 
   were places of much lesser fame. 
Yet, there too men suffered and died,
   when shells came down like rain.

Outpost Harry was a critical hill,
   one to be held at all costs.
And so men went to their maker,
   to insure it would not be lost.

History books on the Korean War,
   will have a paragraph that tells.
About the men who defended Outpost Harry
   and how they defended it well.

Donald A. Chase, Infantry

By Donald A. Chase, I Company, 15th lnfantry Regiment, 3rd Division.  Reprinted from OP Harry Newsletter.

The following story is part of a letter from Don Chase to OPHSA member Billie Burgess. Billie sent it to Martin Markley who forwarded it to the Newsletter. The narrative begins on June 10th, 1953.

Don served in Europe in WW 11 followed by two tours in Korea. His first tour began with the 45th Infantry Division in January of 1951. On his second tour he served with I Co. of the 15th Infantry Regiment 3d Inf. Div During his time in Korea he was wounded three times. For his actions in support of the defense of OP Harry he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor.

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As I remember it, I Company was in the MLR to the left rear of Harry. What other companies were on either side of us, I don't remember. For me, an assistant platoon Sgt. at the time, the night started like any other when we were on 100 percent alert. As soon as darkness set in I took four guys to the listening post, several hundred yards out in front of our platoon area, in no-mans-land, "Happy Valley". This listening post was connected to our platoon CP. by commo wire. I then returned to the MLR and checked with the squad leaders to make sure everyone was set for the night, also see that the squad CP phone lines were working. The machine gun section of the fourth squad was in bunkers on the MLR but the 60mm mortar section was set up behind the MLR. There was a good bunch of guys in my second platoon and everything seemed to be OK, so I then went down to the platoon CP to have a cup of coffee with our platoon leader, Lt. Nester and Platoon Sgt. Burns. I think Sgt. Burns was close to rotation, so I was to a degree, platoon Sgt.  

This picture  was taken by Captain Martin Markley, Commanding Officer of K Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division while King Company was earlier in position behind OP Dick.  The picture is taken  looking East across Happy Valley, down the MLR trench  toward the positions described by Donald Chase. King company is the one he describes later in his letter as being on OP Harry. (ed. Webmaster)
 

Don is at ease on the right

Don is leaning against the trench wall on the right
Don is seated at the left Don is standing on the right

I had a habit of continually walking up and down our sector of the trench line, making sure everyone was awake. This came about because when I had been in Korea in 1951 with the 24th Division, many guys would fall asleep in their foxholes, even when we were on some mountain surrounded by North Koreans. The best way I knew to make sure this didn't happen here was to keep checking each bunker. After a while, some shells started coming in and this got everyone's attention because it was a continuous thing and getting heavier all the time. Some were landing in the trench, in the barbed wire in front, also behind us. They were really coming down. I stayed out in the trench, going up and down our platoon sector, stopping at each fighting position to make sure there was plenty of ammo, grenades, etc. Because the shelling was so heavy, the phone lines from squad CPs to platoon CP were often blown apart and I was constantly splicing wires together so everyone could stay in contact. It was a matter of starting where the wire came out of the bunker, letting it slide through my fingers until I found the break. Then start at the other bunker, repeating the process. If you remember, there was always plenty of slack in the commo wire so it was easy to make a splice once the break was located. I think the Platoon CP was staying in contact with the company CP at this time using the radio.

The night wore on with the shelling increasing in intensity. Some of the guys were firing out into no-mans-land and one of the machine guns jammed just as I came into the bunker. The gunner pried out a ruptured cartridge, adjusted the headspace and had that gun firing again in what seemed to be a matter of seconds. He was an expert and I know I couldn't have done what he did under the same conditions.

As I left this machine gun bunker I ran into Lt. Nester, Sgt. Burns and Sgt. Wood. Lt. Nester told me that there was no response from the guys in our listening post. and he was going out to bring them in, if they were still alive. I joined him and the four of us left the trench line and headed for the listening post. As I have already mentioned, the shelling was unbelievable. I never thought we would make it. We reached the listening post and found the four guys were OK but terribly scared, which was understandable. Through shell flashes we could see Chinese soldiers moving around but they were not coming in our direction so we all headed back to the MLR. That tremendous shelling continued all night and when daylight came everything was a shambles, Wire blown apart, parts of the trench caved in, some bunkers partially destroyed, etc. Only at this time did I learn that K Company had taken a beating on OP Harry, and that a couple of our guys in the 60mm mortar section had been badly wounded. As usual there were all kinds of rumors as to what was going on but all I knew for fact was what I had seen and participated in and about my platoon's sector.

It seems to me that the next two nights were about the same except the shelling was not so severe as the first night. I don't remember who was on OP Harry during these two nights. My most lasting memory of this battle is about that tremendous artillery barrage upon our positions. I believe now, our company was in a spot where they could attack the flank of the Chinese who were attacking Harry and the reason we were shelled so ferociously and heavily was to prevent this. From what I've read, during this battle, US troops mounted two attacks on the Chinese from the right side of OP Harry, which helped stop their attack on Harry itself.


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ęCopyright 2002, Donald A. Chase.  All rights reserved