Donald A. Chase
rugged battle field in Korea,
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.
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.
picture was taken by Captain Martin
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
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|
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.
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.
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.
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
ęCopyright 2002, Donald A. Chase. All rights reserved