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Korea 1953

Korea 1953


This is a photo that was taken with my Argus, C-3 camera, some time before July 16th 1953, and the last time I was on line. We were on hill 229; our MLR, our combat Outpost was Kate, hill 128= 2000 yards north, of the trench line at Able Gate. And Our Dog Company 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment Commander was Lt Col. Andrew Geer. Our Company Commanding Officer was Captain Woods, I had been a BAR man in the 3rd squad 2nd platoon 1st fire team for nine months, but had transferred to a 3.5 rocket launcher platoon in May 1953 when the 33rd draft arrived, My good buddy Cliff Kroeber encouraged me to do it. It was an easy transfer handled by Lt. Evans; he knew I had a wife and child waiting for me in Con.US. Before we went on the two MarLEXes = Marine landing EXersizes in May and June 1953 that I have recorded in my diary, and written about in another reflection, I trained on the weapon and became a gunner. Since I had survived a lot of line time for past nine months, and was getting close to being a short timer. Early in the morning after my night watch, I left Able Gate where I was stationed and passed through on my way to the supply point that was on south behind a hill where I would get a 5 gallon can of water; I stopped to say hi to these guys, and took this photo, the five Marines with mud on their bloused pants had been out on one of the patrols that were carried out each night, they probably hadn’t had a lot of sleep, [no we didn’t weekends off, our base pay was $122, $45 combat, $12 overseas; $10 was deducted for insurance each month there wasn’t much need for money since the Marine Corps gave us cloths ammo food, and a place to sleep, so I sent most of my pay home to my wife, Parthene. Keeping enough to buy film and pogy bate from the PX truck when we were off line.

I need to describe some of the items I see in the photo, Chet Gala, a 27th drafter from the 1st squad, 2nd platoon was standing on the right, smiling, with his hands in his pockets, his helmet was on the ground a short distance from his right leg. there is the letters USMC and an Eagle-Globe-and Anchor stenciled on the pocket of his jacket, a brass ediwa spoon is showing, the handle is in the sewn in pencil holder, I have written about the spoons in other Reflections, The Marine rubbing his eyes, sitting on a five gallon water can behind Chet, is unknown to me, there was a pack board leaning against a bench in the foreground, and an M1 rifle leaning on the sand bags close to Henry Kong, looking tired, sitting on some sand bags close to the bunker entrance with his left leg extended across a ditch they dug; it extended south from the bunker floor past Chet Gala’s helmet to the edge of the photo, it looks like a pair of field glasses or a couple of C ration cans on the bunker roof, in my opinion the only use for this bunker would be for sleeping, It appears to have only two layers of sand bags on the roof, it would offer little protection under a mortar attack so it must have been in a protected aria, the Marine with his back to the camera possibly Ray Oliver was still wearing his ammo belt, the bayonet is missing from the scabbard fastened to his belt, he must have been using it for a tool, his helmet was against his right elbow, he had an entrenching tool against his right knee, the shovel end of it was locked to enable the person using it to operate it like a pick ax. I am thinking it was used to dig the ditch.

When the 5th Regiment returned to combat Oct 10th 1952, Lt. Howard Matthias had the 3rd platoon, on Nov 4th 1952 his former radio man runner, Leon Garcia was killed along with two others, and 15 wounded, Our D Company Commanding Officer was Capt. Judge, the reason I wrote about that is to refer to the Marine standing with his hand on his hip is a 26th drafter named Rich Marino, a compress bandage that we all carried can be seen in the left pocket of his flack jacket. He took Leon Gracias place. Then on Dec 3rd 1952, a month later we had moved to combat Out-Post #2, and had returned from a patrol led by my 2nd platoon leader Lt Hardart at 2200, We met up with 3rd platoon leader Lt Matthias, he left with a reinforced squad on a patrol at 2205, he was wounded, and his point man, Sgt Parsons was killed about 2300, Matthias was laced with a Chinese burp gun while he was beating a Chinese soldier with a malfunctioning carbine. Sgt Chadwick took a squad out and brought them in. I wrote about the two incidents in another reflection so I won’t go into it here. On the 14th I wrote about four casualties I named two, Lt Evans and a guy named Willie, and my former fire team leader and later 3rd squad leader, Sgt. Al Kalinowski, stepped on a mine, the story is in another reflection I have written.

I wrote in my diary dated the 17th that on the night of July 16th, while on a patrol, Ray Oliver lost a foot when he stepped on a mine, Kong was behind him and got a piece of shrapnel in the shoulder. I don’t remember the name of the Marine leaning against the pole with two covers hanging in its branches and a canteen close to his right foot, and Chet’s flack jacket and two C-ration boxes to his left rear, I need to write about the weather, Korea has a variety of climate, differences are caused by the peninsulas south north length of 525 miles, China is on its north Korean boarder, the rugged terrain, the contrast between the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan and the contrast of the Bonin and Siberian air masse. In the south, it is the mid-latitude, monsoon type; in the north it is typically continental. The rain began in late June and went through August, often accompanied by thunder and lightning, dumping up to 11 inches of rain in a month, that is why the ditch was dug, the roof leaked. I wrote in the diary I carried for a year while I was in Korea, that we were up all night digging ditches to drain water from our bunker and the trenches, some bunkers caved in. The second photo is me, PFC Frasier, I had a 45 caliber pistol strapped on and a pack board with the water can tied to it. Chet was sitting on an Asahi beer case, the pole that the Marine was leaning on is behind us, the two hats are still hanging in its branches, the Marine on the ground behind us was still working on his project Henry Kong was still sitting on the sand bags, the padded shoulders and the overlapping plates can be seen in the flack jacket, I left shortly after the photo was taken and got my water and returned to my bunker passing the stream of water running down the hill we used to take a bath in, Chet said it was soft water and soap worked well in it. I have several photos of it and have written about it.

Then I went on past several other bunkers and the 60 mortars parapet. I have written about that as well, I may have make another trip to get a case of C- rations, there were four of us stationed at Able Gate, we stood watches and checked out going and returning patrols through the gate that has a trail leading out to OP Kate, there was a set of batteries and switches, with a wire loom leading out to some 55 gallon barrels of napalm wrapped with detonating cord connected to blasting caps a way out from our bunker we could have blow them if we were attacked by the CCF; we never had to use them. Most of the fighting was out beyond Outpost Kate, On July 18th I wrote about Able Co retrieving 6 bodies, one was still warm, he had lain out there a long time before he died. My Squad leader, Al Kalinowski lost both legs, and had damage to his right hand, I have written about him in another reflection. Rumors were floating around about a cease fire, and then it happened, it was sighed at 1000 in the morning of the 27th I was standing in a trench that night, and witnessed rockets being fired north along the MLR at 2200, signaling the official end of the war. The following day I went to Outpost Kate and watched Chinese soldiers moving around over in their aria, I watched one climb down a hill and pick up a flare parachute. I am sure they were observing us as well. I have photos of us tearing our bunkers down, then we went to Ascom City, and as the 35th draft came in, we returned to Con. US on the USNS General Walker we brought 450 repatriated prisoners with us from operation big switch on the 16th of Aug. we crossed the International Date Line. We arrived at Pier west Fort Mason in San Francisco on Aug. 23rd David Fowkes was going down the gang way and seen me and my wife Parthene come out of the building carrying out baby He said to himself we got him home that is another story I have written about, I was with the best bunch of Marines I could ever ask to serve with, they were looking out for me I found out after it was all over with I will forever be grateful to them

The R.O.K. Army built the bunkers we lived in some of them still had Small baked clay stoves on outside walls with duct work tunneled in the dirt floors. They built smell fires in the clay stoves to heat the bunker we never used them since it was July when D/2/5 was there

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