EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK...
At least we brought our wounded, dying and dead
back with us, whenever possible. The Chinese often
Digging graves for Chinese dead was one of the saddest
and most horrific things on the battlefield. The stench of death unbearable. We spoke no words, focused on the digging, and then lifted and deposited the bloated, decaying bodies into the crude, shallow trenches that would be their graves.
Sometimes, if the body had sat for days, maggots and
flies feasted on the Chinese flesh. I was haunted by mothers, fathers, sibling or girlfriends in China who lost loved ones, but never would know how or where.
We paid too much
The men of my Dog Company waited in the dark. We’d
added equipment because we knew it would be tough. We
readied more bazookas than usual and packed lots of ammo and grenades. We’d have to take out the machine gun nests that guarded the summit.
I was one of ten corpsmen, and held my carbine loaded
and ready. All of us carried an extra med pack with plenty of morphine, bandages, and iodine tubes for the wounded.
The order came as first light trickled through the clouds.
We started up the hill.
At first it was quiet and the climb wasn’t bad. We dodged
loose rocks as they tumbled down but the slope wasn’t steep.
All hell broke loose about a third of the way up.
Dodging a bullet
Korea, winter 1951/1952
We searched for wounded amid a scattering of shots
from the retreating Chinese. The ambush had ended. We
worked through the night but not until the morning’s first
light could we see all the damage.
Blood was everywhere, on the road, in the trucks, and
on the hill. Bodies of our men and white-jacketed Chinese
lay scattered hundreds of feet down the road. Some Marines didn’t make it out of their trucks.
I could only speculate if any of my bullets had contributed
to that night’s destruction of young life. I’m haunted by the image of a young Chinese soldier with a white jacket covered with frozen, black blood. I’m more haunted by the bloodied bodies of my fellow Marines who were caught up in the ambush.