F. Walden Storie
F. Walden Storie taking a cigarette break
F. Walden Storie at parade rest
We Held 0.P. Harry
Having finished basic training in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, I was not fully aware that my training there was not going to equip me with the know how in climbing the hills of South Korea. (From hot flat lands of sand and pine trees to high mountains, mud and cold weather.) Being born and raised in the hills of East Tennessee kept me from being a stranger to hill country.
In early 1953, I was processed through Camp Stoneman California and sent on to Camp Drake in Tokyo, Japan. From Camp Drake, it was on to Korea landing at Inchon Harbor, and then a little evening ride north to join the 3rd Inf. Div., 15th Reg. I was assigned to B Company and my C.O. was Lt. Robert Tart.
It was on the M.L.R. that I got my first look at Jackson Heights and O.P. Tom and somehow I still remember a lot of the guys I met that day Kennedy, Mercer, Buntin, Cost, Marschke, Valentine, Hooker, Lindsey, Overby, Bradley, Bonner, Morgan and Jones, just to name a few.
I would like at this time to move forward by passing a few skirmishes, L.P.'s, and patrols. One patrol in particular can't be discussed here because of space and time, the TOM A HAWK patrol in May of 53. That's another story in itself. It seems that after having lived with O.P. TOM, blocking positions on MLR, and running patrols and L.P.'s, I began to hear the name (HARRY) OUTPOST HARRY.
This O.P. was a very strategic observation point for our forces and it seemed to be much needed by the CCF (Chinese Communist Forces) as well. Outpost HARRY was the responsibility of the 15th Infantry. I remember on the tenth of June we could hear alot of activity north of us and someone remarking HARRY is catching hell. I later find out that King Company, 3rd Battalion, commanded by Capt. Martin Markley, was on the hill and they were catching hell for sure.
The CCF tried for eight days to take charge of this O.P. The first three nights as statistics show there were 3200, the second night over 2000, and the third 1800, and so on. Against these odds we held, but the cost was very high with a loss of hundreds killed and hundreds wounded. I am not sure how many companies were involved or in what order. I do remember K company held the first night and later C and B company. We were joined by one or two companies from the 5th RCT. During this eight day siege there were tremendous losses for the 15th Reg. and 5th RCT along with the many support groups.
We now come to the day of the eleventh of June. We in Baker Company had a good meal and a short chapel service. I believe it was a little more than a rumor we knew our destination was O.P. HARRY. Trucks took us from the blocking position to near the line of our departure and into the area approaching the outpost. Smokescreens had been put in place to cover our approach. This is the road that one writer (of the Stars and Stripes) called Death Valley Road. While traveling this distance, these many hundreds of yards to the top of O.P. HARRY, I never knew how heavy a machine gun could get. If I recall properly, it was after sundown but light enough to see all the dead Chinese that still filled the trenches some stacked three deep so as to clear a path for walking. While discussing this with a friend in later years, (Richard Kilgen) we talked of how the stench of the dead around us just seemed to penetrate and stay forever. Richard was in Dog Company 30 Cal. gunners and his squad was assigned to Baker that night.
My squad was finally put in place as we were moved to a second location. By this time it was dark and things were pretty quiet. We were placed in this open trench with my machine gun mounted on the edge of the trench looking down a very steep part of the hill. The Sergeant who placed us there said, "This is where they hit us last night". Two days as a gunner and scared to death I said, "Thanks."
I was second gunner and first gunner was Marschke. We were at this finger that ran to our right off the loop of the hill. Marschke was at the dead end to my right and I was near the main trench. I believe P.F.C. Cost was assistant gunner for Marschke and Cpl. Moore for me. I don't recall any other names except my squad leader Ciceno and Plt Sgt. Zino Pampanin.
It was midnight no enemy yet. Moore said, "Maybe they aren't coming tonight." and I remarked, "They will be here." About five minutes later all hell broke loose. The first round seemed to be the old 76 straight trag. fire missing the top of our heads only inches and striking the side of the hill behind us. While trying to see what is coming up the hill, enemy artillery is falling like rain and the CCF was moving up under their own artillery. There were people in the trenches moving in our direction. I yanked the gun from the rim of the trench and aimed it in their direction only to find out (before firing) that it was our own men trying to find cover from the artillery that was devastating this hill one more time.
When I aimed the gun down the trench, I was in a small cavity cut into the bank facing down the trench. This cavity was called a chink hole. Some of the men tried to get in also and my gun was knocked over. I asked them to find cover somewhere else so I could operate my weapon. But as I tried to operate it, dirt had jammed the bolt and I was only left with my 45 caliber and seven or eight hand grenades. I noticed in my immediate area that others had taken cover from the heavy shelling and that I was alone. I heard the number one gun as it had ceased firing. There were flares in the distance, giving some light. I was pulling pins and tossing grenades as fast as possible. While I was not able to do this with my 45 in my hand, I holstered the weapon and underhandedly tossed the grenades in the direction of the flashes from their burp guns. After about 20 paces down the trench, I could tell the Chinese were in the same spot that I had just come from.
I was down to my last grenade, so I pulled the pin and held on to it for some strange reason. I stopped in front of this automatic rifle bunker in order to take cover when needed. I spotted a box of hand grenades and was trying to remove the top when a hand grenade landed near me. I could see a bit of smoke from the potato masher. I dove face down and away, placing my hands over my neck area. In doing so my flack jacket raised a little at the belt line and the shrapnel got me in the left side into my small intestines.
It seems that I had slowed the movement of the Chinese, giving me time to crawl backwards into the bunker. While crawling into the bunker someone stuck a B.A.R. in my back side asking who was there. After a short time, I realized the ring from the grenade was still on my finger and the grenade was still in my right hand. I knew it would be a problem if I tried to get help to dispose it, so I leaned to my left as far as possible and tossed it out into to the trench. I am so thankful that the grenade did not explode while my hands were over my neck back in the trench! Sometimes we do crazy things.
While inside we had the enemy rush the bunker at least twice, but they were taken out by Moore and B.A. R. team. (Frances and Bloodsworth) It was some time later a grenade came inside. I was hit in the foot and hip. Frances and Bloodsworth were hit also. Moore was hit in both legs. Moore tried to get the R.O.K. (Republic of Korea) soldier, who was not hurt, to go get us help but he would not. I believe the sixth man was a Commo. man (don't remember his name) and he left to get help because he was bleeding badly. The R.O.K. soldier finally left our position and I never heard of him again.
Now we have four men left and one more grenade comes in. By now the bunker is starting to fall apart as one large timber up ended and came in the entrance not striking anyone. It seems this second grenade was a concussion type and everything looked like a ball of fire. I had been talking to the guys asking them to stay awake. I realized suddenly that there was no response and at the light of day I could see why. The evidence of the concussion grenade was the bleeding from the eyes, nose, and ears. I believe the second grenade was dropped in the aperture of the bunker, placing most of the impact on our B.A.R. men K. Frances and C. Bloodsworth.
When it was possible to see, Moore and I placed tourniquets on both his legs. We were able to use both our belts to check the bleeding. I can't recall if I passed out for a time because at one time I could see someone outside with a canteen of water. That would have been impossible and we were needing water badly mouths were dry from breathing all the dust from shelling.
Daylight came and we knew we still had the hill. When I heard the language of our men on the hill I called out for help several times. The bunker was so damaged that we could not get out on our own. I remember calling out a little louder and was so happy to hear someone say "LISTEN". I then called out again and Moore and I were pulled from the bunker, leaving behind
Frances and Bloodsworth. Our status at that time: two dead and two wounded. It was down the hill and off to the aid station.
©Copyright 2002, F. Walden Storie. All rights reserved