The Longest Day of My Life -
June 10. 1953
2nd Lt. 39th FA 3rd Inf. Div.
Attached to King Company, 15th Regiment
I remember receiving a radio message to re-join King Company at certain coordinates. I hadn’t been with them as forward observer for about 30 days since we moved off Outpost Dick. I met them at a schoolhouse at a crossroad just after dark.
We moved up in a convey driving blackout. My Jeep and trailer were second behind Capt. Markley’s Jeep. We got to our detrucking point and marched single file under the searchlights up to the foot of Outpost Harry. As I remember, there used to be an orchard where we spent what was left of the night.
At daybreak we went up the hill in groups of five. I was second behind the ever present Markley. There was a lot of incoming fire and that hill was so steep. You couldn’t stop for breath. my lungs felt as if they were on fire
about half way up.
After we got to the top, we found Harry well fortified with trenches and bunkers. The command post where I spent the nights with Capt. Markley and Lt. Richards was connected to the main trench covered by an overhead of railroad
ties and sandbags.
We knew several days before that we were going to be hit but didn’t know when.
At about 9 P. M., on June 10th all hell broke loose with artillery fire and Chinese swarming all over. While Capt. Markley and Lt. Richards were firing over my head to keep them out, I was on the radio calling in fire on
ourselves. The next thing I heard was that unmistakable sizzle of an armed grenade behind me. And before I could complete my transmission, it went off and Markley and Richards fell.
I ran to the door where I had left my carbine and caught a Chinese coming at me. Another grenade came in and I would step in the corner and put my head down against the blast and step back in the door and catch another trying to
run in. This went on at least 3 or 4 more times before my hand and leg went numb,
I switched hands and laid the barrel of my carbine on the edge of the doorway and I let the Chinese almost run into me before I fired. The next grenade knocked me off my feet and I fell partially on the Captain. I heard some
conversation outside the door and then I saw a Chinese with a flashlight coming in. I pulled the trigger on my carbine, but nothing happened. The CCF soldier started looking at the other side of the bunker and I wiped my bloody
hand on my face to play dead.
He checked out and searched Lt. Richards, then Captain Markley and then he jerked my carbine out of my hands, went through my pockets and taking our weapons, he left.
Almost immediately, two CCF came in with wounded and the next thing I felt a guard squatting near my feet and every time he would let someone in, his rifle butt would slide up my leg that was cut up from the shrapnel. I knew if
I moved he would kill me.
Lt. Richards started coming around and was moving and groaning. After some conversation with the wounded, the guard got up and shot him. A little later, Captain Markley started to cough up something in his throat and the same
thing happened to him.
I could tell the Captain was still alive, as I could feel him moving and due to the darkness, they couldn’t see him. A little later a shell landed in our door and I could feel the guard lurch and fall over.
Just after daybreak the next morning, I heard GI voices outside and I could tell there was still hand to-hand fighting in the trenches. Later a GI came through the door firing and I was shouting "Cease fire GI." He stopped and
said "OK Doc" and left.
At that time a shadow rose up in the middle of the room and was looking for something to use on me. I started looking too and all I could find was a flashlight. I turned the light on and stuck the light in his eyes and he
seemed to quit reaching for something.
I could hear GI’s outside but couldn’t get them to hear me. Finally one came in and took care of the wounded Chinese.
Then we looked at Captain Markley. His head was spit open from one ear to the other and his eyeball was lying on
his cheek. I’ll never know why I did it, but I cleaned the blood and dirt out of the socket with my fingers and put the eyeball back in place. What is hard to believe is that
he still has the eye 40 years later and can see a little out of it.
My replacement F. O. was hit in both feet before he got to the top. Somehow he found me and said he was going to take me back. About that time I saw the medics taking the Captain down the hill.
It was hard going as the trenches were full of bodies (Chinese and American) as well as
commo wire and all kinds of debris. I remember being on the back of a tank, in a Jeep with litters sticking out, in a half track and finally, an ambulance, I spent time in a MASH unit, a school auditorium in Seoul and finally an airplane to Japan.
I find it hard to believe that I survived the worst nightmare of my life, and I couldn’t if it had not been for men like Captain Markley, Lt. Richards (who never made it home) and the F. O. (whose name I never got) who wouldn’t let me quit until we got off that damn hill.
here for a related story by Jack Newman telling how he was probably
the F. O. who helped Sam Buck off the hill.
here to visit Captain Martin Markley's web pages.
here to visit the memorial page for Lt. Richards who was
posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with the "V" Device for
Valor for his actions during this battle.