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Winter Sports, North Korea, 1950
In early December, 1950 at Yonpo Airfield, North Korea, I was assigned as a member of a team taking a Portable Radar set to the Chosin reservoir. After loading the equipment into a jeep and trailer, we drove over to the squadron mess tent to pick up some C-rations. It was about 8pm at night. At the mess tent we were told to stand down as the Marines at the Chosin were cut off due to other military units retreating, exposing the Marines flank.
The next day the Marines at the reservoir requested more air support. We had Marine Corsairs at Yonpo, but no fuel or ordnance. MGCIS-1 had trucks for hauling our Radar equipment, all International Six by Sixes, with convertible tops! Shortly, our trucks were on the way to Hungnam for bombs. I rode shotgun for the first trip; the road was covered with sleet. We picked up nine one thousand pound bombs, fuses and fins and headed for Yonpo. Arriving at the Yonpo flight line, with no unloading equipment, we rolled one bomb off the truck to see what would happen; it bounced a couple of times on the frozen ground, but did not explode. An Air Force Sgt came over and told us their P-51?s could not carry a 1,000 lb bomb, the Marine Corsairs on the other side of the field needed them. With no equipment to reload the bomb, we headed across the field with eight bombs in the truck and dragging one with a log chain! Arriving at the Marine flight line, the Air Wingers had those bombs on Corsairs and in the air immediately. We unloaded them from the truck by backing up and hitting the brakes, thus dumping them all at once! For the next several days MGCIS-1 hauled fuel and ordnance for the Corsairs, using the same unloading method!
December 14th we shut down our GCI radar operations, loaded our equipment and moved to Hungnam for evacuation. Arriving at Hungnam, I and two other technicians were sent back to Yonpo to operate and maintain the identifier friend or foe (IFF) set and ADF we had left with operations. With no facilities left at Yonpo, we were told to pick up something to eat at the mess tent. All I could find was a gallon of cheese and a gallon of raisins. This was my diet for the next several days.
On Christmas Eve a Marine transport plane came in, loaded up and got ready to leave. They were the last plane out, so we destroyed the remainder of our equipment and boarded the aircraft bound for Itami Air Base in Japan.
Christmas day, 1950 I took my first shower in almost four months and first real meal in a long time. In Korea the unit did not have laundry, showers, resupply of clothing, usually no potable water and very poor chow, by the time supply?s reached us, they had been picked over very thoroughly! My weight going to Korea was 185 lbs, on return in nine months I weighed a whopping 150 lbs.
(In October 1998, General G.C. Krulak, Commandant U.S. Marine Corps, signed a letter that stated, ?Besieged by enemy small arms fire, handicapped by shortages in men and equipment, hampered by topography, the unit aided some 26,000 Marine and Air Force planes through the radar of MGCIS-1?a welcome beacon to guide the aircraft to safe landings. Whatever the weather, no matter how rugged the terrain, despite its personal privations, the squadron managed to bring their aircraft home.) We also controlled aircraft to and from the front, and guided fighter aircraft to their targets!
1950-51 MGCIS-1 Awards: Army Presidential Unit Citation, Two Navy Presidential Unit Citations, Korean Campaign Ribbon-3stars, United Nations Ribbon, two Korean Presidential Unit Citations, and later Marine combat action and Korean War combat medals were added. Jim Reed S/SGT, USMC 1948-52, USMCR 1954-55