My First Poem
by Sgt Howard Frasier USMC R 1264373
A story that I need to tell you,
Has been on my mind for so long,
It brings back some deep emotions,
Like the lyrics of some bygone song,
I sailed to Korea on the Brewster;
In the year of Nineteen fifty two,
We got there the thirty first of August;
Next day I would be twenty two
At Ascom we dropped off our sea bags,
Boarded rail cars from out of the past,
Well, so far we hadn’t met with danger;
But how long was that going to last?
In early September, I joined D /2/5
Soon discovered good fortune was mine,
Those Marines had spent months in battle!
The Fifth Marines had just come off line!
Never fear, The Fighting Fifth is here!
They chanted as they marched along,
Semper Fideles, we are Always Faithful,
Some battle scarred, some weary but strong,
I began picking up their stories and names,
Legursky Kalinowski, Mudurian, Moore,
I see you’re limping, what made you lame?
And just what do you guys think of this war?
We went through September and into October,
My comrades grew rested happy and stronger,
We’ll go back up north the tenth of October
Well, now, that means it won’t be much longer,
Stand by Leathernecks, you’re looking fine,
You’re all rested, and back in your prime,
Here come those trucks, they’re right on time!
The Fifth Marines are going back on Line!
On 23 Jan 1953, 300 Marines under the Company Command of Captain John Melvin returned to the Jamestown lines. That was the third of the five times I would be serving on line with D/2/5= Dog Company, 2n Battalion, 5th Regiment 1st Marine Division
The adjacent photo is me, P.f.C. Howard E. Frasier March 1953 in a trench out on OPLR Vegas, Hill# 21,I had my wife Parthene’s middle name Gayle written just above my left wrist on the front wooden stock of my BAR leaning against me
January was the coldest month, dominated by the cold air coming out of Siberia often holding temperatures below freezing but not much snow. OP Vegas- Hill # 21 was manned by one Officer, 40 Marines, and a Navy Corpsman. When I had the duty, we always left the trench Line at Hill# 119, in the dark in 15 man squads and went north on a trail that led us out through marked mine fields to the base of a hill that led up to able gate, total walking distance, over 1,300 yards we wore rubber thermo boots, that were insulated, and part of our winter issue, my feet would be wet with sweat by the time we arrived ; I carried extra dry socks along, and changed them the first chance I got., and hung the wet ones up to dry
Many of the Marines developed a foot fungus, and as hard as we all tried to avoid it, I had it as well. We had foot powder issued, and I used it. I discovered it was good to use it on other parts of my body; there was no way to bathe, and it controlled the itching and scratching. Even toned down the body odor, not that it mattered, we did not have the amenities of Motel 6 up there on line and we all stunk, Any time We were relieve off line or we relied a Marine or allied unit. There were over 15 including the ROK-KMCs There were invariably comments in the salty vernacular understood by all uttered by a few wise asses about the body odor
I am wearing several layers of clothing, wool pants under the green cotton pants, and two extra wool shirts. I wore a lined parka with a hood when I stood my watch at night. My brother in law, Frank Pederson sent me two great hand warmers fuelled by lighter fluid that worked great; I kept one in each pocket.When we were not standing watch we slept in a cave on the dirt floor with our cloths on. It was also the command post so we always had a lieutenant there with us. Our orders were to keep clean-shaven, and a Marine barber came up at intervals to keep our hair short, there was a reason for that, if we got a head wound it was easier for our Corpsmen to take care of. We had to deal with rats and other creatures; we tried not to leave any open food around for them. There is a letter in my pocket from Parthene I carried out to the outpost with me. There is a C. Rations box in the foreground; three other weapons and a grenade are visible. The ledge above my helmet is where I heated food, we all carried canteens of water, but the ROK- KSCS work parties we called Chiggie Bears brought C’rations and water to us, and occasionally worked on trenches and bunkers, If memory serves the duty was three days and nights if conditions permitted. We could walk back to a MSR and be trucked back to showers, and changi- changi= [clean cloths] every two to three weeks. I was a Bar man, = [
On 31 January 1953 I received a telegram informing me I had a daughter born Jan 21 1953 .followed by a package containing cookies, candles and a purple neck tie with It’s a girl stenciled on it, a letter and a box of cigars, to hand out among the Marines in My platoon.
Beginning March 26 1953, after a five-day and night battle with the CCF over several outposts including Vegas resulting in 116 killed 801 wounded 441 of them evacuated to hospital ships and field hospitals, 88 missing and 19 known to be taken prisoner. 550 replacements were brought up during the operation. Yours truly came through it all intact. Enemy Casualties from the 358th CCF Regiment were higher
We left the Jamestown MLR, and went into reserve in April. After Parades, athletic competition, a giant beer bust at Chadwick field. Dry land training for two MarLEXes carried out on the Tokchok islands, and an island called Tokchok-to.
I returned to combat on the Jamestown MLR with the 5th Marines for the fifth and last time, early July 1953. We were under the Regimental command of Colonel Andrew Geer, and the Company Command of Captain Ralph Wood. the cease fire was sighed at 10:00 27 July1953 I was standing in a trench that night and witnessed rockets fired north at 2200, I was back in Con US 23 August 1953, my wife was waiting for me in Sanfrancisco California and handed me a beautiful 7 ? month old daughter.
I served in Korea from September 1st, 1952 to 23August 1953
FOOT AND PAGE NOTES
Chadwick field =So named in honor of Fred Chadwick listed KIA 31 Jan in the NA&RAC for ER BAR man= Browning Automatic Rifleman]
CCF = Chinese Communists Forces
I carried a diary given to me by my wife Parthenes Parents, and wrote in it. and have written other reflections based on the diary and from what remains in my mind during the year I spent in Korea, hereafter will be designated Ref D for the diary and Ref Refl for reflections.
Thermo boots =AKA Mickey Mouse boots
ROK-KMC= Republics Of Korea Korean Marine Corps
OPLR =Out-Post Line of Resistance,
MarLEX=Marine landing training EXersizes
MSR = Main Supply Road,
I served with 1st fire team, 3rd squad, 2nd platoon, D/2, /5. My assistant; BAR Man P.F.C Michael Sagon was a casualty due to hostile fire in March 1953. PFC Coy Womack replaced him. My fire team leader was Corporal Ben Hobbs. Three squad leaders’ names I can recall were Sergeants Gentry, Al Kalinowski and Corporal Carvel Legurski, platoon Sergeant McCray, 1st sergeant, Gunny Robert Domokos. Platoon leaders were Lieutenants Howard Hardart, Howard Matthias, Mo Franklin, Don Diamond, Thom Bulger, Richard Coulter, Robert Purcell, Thom Evans and Robert Leister. Company Commandeers, [Captains], and Clark Judge, relieved by John B. Melvin, relieved by Ralph wood. Battalion commanders Lt Colonels Oscar E. Peatross relieved James H. Finch, relieved by Andrew C. Geer. Our Regimental Commanders were Colonels Thomas A. Culhane, relieved by Eustace R. Smoak, relieved by and Colonel Lewis Walt