CHANGJIN JOURNAL   CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.15.03 - 01.30.03

rasulaxmas.jpg (89439 bytes)
Photo of Captain George Rasula taken in South Korea Chistmas day 1950
in the area of Service Company, 31st Infantry. [Click on the photo for a larger image.] - Photo by Escue

The Changjin Journal is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history. 
See End Notes for distribution and other notices. Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret., Chosin Historian,
Byron Sims, Contributing Editor

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CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.15.03

The Changjin Journal is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history. See End Notes for distribution and other notices.
Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Chosin Historian
Byron Sims, Contributing Editor


IN THIS ISSUE we continue the series of letters that were first published in CJ 11.01.02. Here we begin the day after arrival at Hamhung when survivors from Chosin were greeted by the newly formed headquarters of the 31st Infantry Regiment with Colonel John Gavin commanding. These letters have been edited to contain information related to the past Chosin experience and its aftermath. Comments for clarification are in [brackets].


11 December 1950 - 1130 hours [on Red Cross paper]
       Guess it's a long time since I last wrote a letter, can't remember exactly when. I know it was just before going up to the Chosin Reservoir and . . ., there just wasn't time for writing letters up there. We pulled in here at Hamhung last night [10 Dec] - got my first real sleep last night for many a day - even got breakfast in bed this morning. I've said many a prayer . . ., and God has been with us. Will close now and get to the shower - more later when I relax a little bit.

12 December 1950 - 2345 hours.
  I've been doing some official writing for hours now and I'm pretty well tired out. The wheels are rather interested as to what happened up north so we all sat down and wrote up as much as we could in the short time allowed. Actually, I think we could write for days and never cover everything. I've rested and rested and I'm still tired - my legs have sure been stiff from that long march in shoepacs. . . . Hodges Escue and I were together. At Hagaru I was pretty busy and he got a quick letter off telling Charlene to notify you that we were together. By the way, Hagaru-ri is at the south end of the reservoir where we were with the Marines. When we broke out of that perimeter he was pretty close most of the time. Then from Koto-ri down he was with me every aching foot of the way. We got a break in chow today - steak! Mine was pretty tough, but it was still fresh steak. Must get to bed now... . I'm pooped! The next gap in the mail should be because we'll be afloat again.

15 December 1950 - 2130 hours.
      Finally got some coffee - seems the officers mess aboard doesn't have coffee call in the evening so I went down to the enlisted mess and got a GI cup full. To backtrack a little, I boarded late yesterday [14 Dec] evening and we're well on the way by now - should be able to mail this on land in the morning. [I then listed all the letters and packages I had received at Hamhung, which included from my parents in Minnesota -long-johns, felt boots and heavy socks.]
        Before going further I must tell you about the ship. It's the General Freeman which is fixed up for dependents. Frank Fife, Dowell and I have this one stateroom with plenty of space. When I first boarded I cleaned up - how wonderful a hot shower can be! - and went to chow where I actually ate two full meals, and each meal since I've eaten all I can hold - the food is so good! I think I eat so much because it tastes so good. And the sheets and the bunks! .. and it's warm enough to sit around in a T-shirt. I haven't been out on the open deck since we boarded - too cold after being so comfortable in the room.
        When we broke out of Hagaru I threw my bedroll cover with the end pockets full of underclothes on a jeep, but haven't seen hide nor hair of the jeep since, and don't think it made it. I think I'd better [inform you] before the women start writing about what went on up north, and as to who got out and who didn't. As you probably heard by now my old battalion [3/31 Inf.] got the worst of the deal. To start with when we left Hagaru, of the people you know [Captain] Kitz, Robertson and Boyer left with us. Very sorry to say that Bob Boyer didn't make it. Kitz and Robertson went to the hospital in Hamhung due to frostbite when we got in [11 Dec] .The remainder of the officers you know either were evacuated or didn't make it (I'm still speaking of Reilly's 3d Bn.) As far as I remember the following were evacuated: Reilly, McClay, Trawick, Murray Lewis - and probably a few others that we don't know about. With them was Robbins, McNally who were also evacuated. [Lt. Richard] Coke was there and so far is MIA. The ones we definitely know that aren't coming out are Major Storms, Jack Brooks, Rulik, Rybolt and Schmidt. Others, we're not sure about.                        [1Lt Rolin]Skilton came out of Hagaru with us but was wounded and evacuated the first day [6 Dec., an error noted later as he died of his wounds and was buried in the mass grave at Koto-ri] Guess that sounds quite rough and I guess it is - and most of us over here get quite immune to such things [We were still numb from the experience]. But, oh how I pray to God that I never see such happen again! It's getting late.

16 December 1950, 1950-2335 hours.
      We sure didn't waste any time getting down here [to Pusan], was a lot faster that the trip north. Already today I've been down to the PX, bought some Kleenex and drawers which fortunately they had on hand, also cigs and candy. On the way back Frank Fife and I stopped at the Seaman's Service to try to get a beer, but there was such a crowd we came back here. This evening I repacked my duffel bag to lighten it and try to get some of the stuff I don't need at present on one of the jeeps. I also took on a big job of polishing a new pair of combat boots which I got just before leaving Hungnam - boy, was it ever a job!
[When we took the shower at Hamhung, the first since debarking at Iwon in late October, we threw all of our clothes into a pile and were issued new clothes at the end of the series Quartermaster shower unit tents. During the cold weather up north we probably didn't notice how dirty we were, but in the heated shower tents the odor was quite revealing. Only a Sauna could have felt better.]
      Cpl. Choate [S-3 clerk] is supposed to be keeping an eye on the jeeps coming off the ship, so I can get this small barracks bag of stuff loaded on one of our section jeeps. I've accumulated quite a load; too much as usual. I don't recall if I itemized to you what I lost up north [at Chosin] - not too much other than a lot of issue equipment. In our section field desk I did have a notebook with all your letters and stamped envelopes. I carried my Bible, camera and all the film on my back so I still have them. I guess you are wondering if I took any pictures up there, well, I've probably got a couple of scenic shots but most of the time I was too busy so it stayed in my pack. [I carried a 35mm Kodak Retina with color slide film. I took about four photos during a quiet period, 3-4 Dec, at Hagaru.]

17 December 1950 - 2350 hours.
     They got me tied up with some work this afternoon and I just finished a few minutes ago - thought I was going to get some rest. This morning, after church services at 0800, Frank Bunn and I went into town [Pusan] and hitchhiked to find out if Sue Robertson [Lucy's friend, an Army Nurse] - and found out that she and Ruth Mills were lucky enough to be rotated to Japan. From the hospital Frank [Bunn] and I bummed down to the Finance office where Frank picked up a bottle of "CC" that Major Klein had left for him, then back to the ship for lunch. Hodges [Escue] arrived today on another ship and dropped in here for a minute. I went over to see him tonight, but he was already in the sack so we just sat in the wardroom and drank coffee until the 2300 news. Heard the president's declaration for the first time. Boy - this world news really sounds confused now. Guess all we can do is sit and wait.

19 December 1950 - 2045 hours.
[We finally began receiving more recent mail.] To bring you up to date, we got off the ship yesterday and rode a train for the better part of the afternoon, arriving here about 2200 last night. Even though we spent a long time en route, we didn't travel very far; you know how slow these trains are. We got to about 40 miles north of where Sue was [Pusan] the last time I saw her [before I went to North Korea]. The quarters are about the same - maybe a little better. The weather is a lot warmer than in North Korea and since I arrived I've acquired an air mattress so sleeping on the floor isn't bad at all, plus the fact that I may get a cot tomorrow. I'm sitting here munching on some mixed nuts I got at the pier PX before I shoved off - and now waiting for the water on the stove to get hot so I can mix some coffee. Hodges [Escue] is still back unloading [the ships] and should be up in a day or two. He got to the main PX yesterday morning when it opened and bought a camera and twenty dollars worth of film, a watch and a pen and pencil set. Quite a splurge! Speaking of money, I got paid $142.00 the other day so I'll be sending most of it to the bank just as soon as I can get a money order. Had a  chance in Pusan but forgot about it; shows how little money means over here. Coffee tastes pretty good; it's a mix from the larger cans of powdered coffee that comes in 5-in-1 rations, better and not as strong as C-ration coffee. Must close now and get some sleep. Sure do miss the clean white sheets on that ship, and those A-rations!

END NOTES

The Rasula family scrapbook contains this telegram sent via SF Tokyo Via McKay Radio: "Mrs. George Rasula, Laceyville, Pa., George is fine letter follows." This was initiated by Lucy's friends stationed at the hospital near Pusan who immediately phoned Sue Robertson (her maid of honor at our wedding in Tokyo) who in turn sent the telegram. I heard it caused a lot of excitement in Laceyville, a village of about 600 if one counts the keepers of cows and chickens on the nearby farms, especially since Lucy was there in the midst of many rumors which our frantic wives were exchanging through the phone lines or hastily written letters, many of which were in error as we will learn in future letters.-GAR

END CJ 01.15.03



 

 

 

CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.20.03


The Changjin Journal is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history. See End Notes for distribution and other notices.
Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret, Chosin Historian
Byron Sims, Contributing Editor

IN THIS ISSUE we continue the series of letters last published in CJ 01.15.03. Here we cover letters 20-23 December 1950. Comments for clarification are in [brackets].



20 December 1950 - 2330 hours

     Getting another late start this evening due to a staff meeting after supper which lasted two and a half hours. After that [Captain] Dowell and I went down to a place just a short way from here for a Japanese style bath. It was really a tiny affair, had to practically double up to get in and soak. One of Dowell's [S-2 section] Nisei interpreters fixed us up with the bath and after this one we expect to do it often - sure did feel good! All I've got to do now is get some of this dirty laundry done.

   The day in general was pretty quiet. Went down to division [Hq] and visited some of the boys, saw Ken Farnham. They weren't well enough set up so we hurried back here for lunch, that is, their officers mess wasn't set  up and ours was. From the looks of things our building is sure better than theirs - and much warmer. [Cpl. Lucian] Choate is here in his sack griping about the fact that he heard that the enlisted men were only going to get four cans of beer; actually I think he heard they were getting four cans in this first load. Just remarked to Dowell - when I start eating mixed nuts I can't stop. I bought three cans when I went to the PX and have eaten two already. We're working on one of his cans now.

      Tonight we finally got an electric light here in the "office" [S-3 space]. The Medics have a generator and we are on the line. We had no socket nor bulb so tonight I had to practically get on my knees down at the personnel office to get just one of the dozen they had burning. By the way, when we rejoined the rest of the outfit [balance of 7th Division] at Hungnam, I took over the job of regimental S-3 for the time being, and still have the job. A major will probably come in and take over, I guess that'll be up to the old-man. If one comes up I hope it's Major Sears. He was just promoted and was formerly the Service Company commander, a swell guy. Time to close and hit the sack. [After Chosin our 3/31 Inf. as well as 1/32 of the 32d Regiment and smaller units were not combat effective. The day after arrival at Hamhung 3/31 had no officers (100% casualties) and only about eighty enlisted men (90% casualties). This meant the units had to be rebuilt with manpower and equipment, as well as an intensive training program to once again play their role as fighting units of the 7th Infantry Division. As the acting S-3, I
was involved in organization and training.]

21 December 1950 - 2350 hours

        Just a quickie tonight because I'm writing with two candle power - the generator conked out and if the lights come on I've got "taksaan" paper work to do. I think I'll get some rest and tackle it in the morning. Just heard from Frank [Bunn] that a letter came from [1Lt William J.] McNally [regimental commo officer wounded and evac'd from Hagaru]. He's hospitalized in Japan and expects to be sent to the States shortly. Said he got many minor shrapnel wounds and should come out OK, except for the loss of a few toes. I'm glad for him. [Bill McNally had gone to the forward CP with Col. MacLean the evening of 27 Nov 50.]

22 December 1950 - 2155 hours

    Getting my letter off a little earlier tonight. I'm writing this and telling Choate what to type in a report at the same time. [S-3 daily Situation Report.] Wandered around a little village here and took some pictures today; only black & white in the camera so I tried to stick to people. [Captain] Clark, [Lt.] Racek, Liaison Officer and Hodges [Escue] arrived today, so now there are eleven scattered around the floor, asleep. They didn't get much rest last night, had motor trouble and all, plus a couple of drunk drivers on the way.


        When writing to the girls [wives] try not to mention any names of those lost up north at Chosin for a while. I'm sure you understand why. I noticed tonight in your letter that you had a card from Connie [wife of Bob Boyer}; I don't know what you should do about that. [Lt] Bob Boyer was lost the first day [6 Dec.] when we broke out [from Hagaru] with the Marines. One thing I will check on - Hodges mentioned that he had a notebook which Bob kept running letters to Connie in; I'll ask him tomorrow what he did about it.

       Did I mention last night that I got two cases of beer - yup! One of our Tank Company officers runs down to Pusan every other day and he fixed us up. As yet this lieutenant hasn't returned with the whiskey and beer he's supposed to being us for Christmas and New Year. He was supposed to return today - everyone I bump into keeps asking me if he has returned yet. He's really an important person now. I feel sleepy tonight - guess it's from all the fresh air and walking I did today.

23 December 1950 - 2300 hours

Just finished one of those baths, only this time the water was too hot, so we took a good bucket bath next to the tub. And as all baths go, it sure did feel good. One of the paper windows was out and the breeze sure was cool when it blew. Actually, it isn't too cold around here. It snowed a bit this evening, enough to whiten the ground, but the days are always warm enough to melt that left on the ground. [During this period I often mention letters and cards from relatives in Minnesota who express their happiness that I made it out of the Chosin.]

        Before I forget, Hodges got a letter from "Charlie" [Charlene] in answer to the one he wrote at the reservoir, and she said she wrote you at the same time; did you get her letter? I was hoping that he had told her to wire or call you. He also said that Charlie had bought a new car but forgot to tell him what kind it was! [Comments about receiving packages.] The packages were placed in the branches of our little tree. We got busy today and really decorated the office, complete with reindeer and sled cut-outs on the windows. Got three new boys [replacements] in the office today and yesterday, and gave them all the job of decorating the place. They sure did a neat job. They are quite bright so they should have - one I "hired" today just finished four years at the U. of Oklahoma, a petroleum engineer. These
are the type replacements I like to get. I'm assigning him to TI&E [troop information and education]. By the way, remember Cpl. Bockhoff - he was up with Reilly's outfit [3/31] and we've had no official word of him since; yet there is a chance he was evacuated - sure hope so.
END CJ 01.20.03
 

 

CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.25.03


IN THIS ISSUE we continue the series of letters last published in CJ 01.15.03. Here we cover letters 24-29 December 1950. Comments for clarification are in [brackets].

24 December 1950 - 2359 hours.

   Merry Christmas! Today I went out and visited all of the outfits including Ken Farnham and the boys at division. Sure was nice to get out and see all of them. When I got back I went into the next room which is the BOQ and naturally the  Medics were there starting on the celebration - with a five gallon can of "one-ninety" mix - so out came the canteen cup and a sample of their joy. After that we went to dinner and then back to do some work. Then Hodges [Escue] and I went next door and sat in on the song fest - been singing all night long, and the longer we sang the better it sounded. Doc Lavietes dropped in on the song fest so before he left I asked him to write you a note for Christmas - as he did at the end of this letter. [Lucy nursed at the Camp Crawford dependent dispensary in Hokkaido before the war.] Right now Frank Bunn and about four others are still in there singing away. I got so sleepy I had to leave and get my letter started, and now I'm
really sleepy so I'd better get to bed.

25 December 1950 - Christmas Night - 1850 hours

     I really wanted to start today's letter much earlier because I've been feeling awful with a sinus headache and a head cold, and generally down in the dumps. This morning we got up late and had breakfast about 0830. Shaved and polished boots, and then Hodges and I took our cameras out for a stroll.  Went to Service Company where they had a small Christmas tree and a Merry Christmas sign in their company street. Took pictures of each other there and elsewhere about the nearby small town. It's probably one tenth the size of Laceyville [Pa]. We walked to the other end where the motor officers have their tent and sat and shot the bull for an hour or so, then back here to the CP. About 1300 Hodges and I went out to [church] services which were held in front of the building by Chaplain [Captain Michael E.] Reynolds. Then came nap time and finally our big fat holiday dinner at 1600. And we sure did get our fill, complete with everything including one can of beer per man.
        2215 hours. Hodges and [Captain] Clarke yanked me out to the colonel's room after the above, and was it ever a nice party. The meager whisky, one bottle per three officers, was pooled by the special unit commanders here and they all had the party tonight at 1900 in the colonel's office [which was also his quarters]. Someone did a nice job of decorating the place and the cooks did as well job of setting up a buffet. We had no glasses for drinks so they had cut tops out of about a hundred beer cans and they served the purpose very well. I spent most of the evening just sipping Old Forester and water - and eating! Also spent quite some time gabbing with an army doctor and dentist, and one of our "loan" navy doctors that we have with us. While talking about New York, the navy doctor recommended a magazine called Que to find good places to go.
     Today I received two more letters . . . yours of December 13 and 14, so with all this mail my Christmas has been as complete as could be here, but I've been so terribly lonesome - and pray that we'll be together again soon, real soon!

26 December 1950 - 2225 hours

        Just a short note tonight because I've done very little of nothing today, except sit here at this desk and push through piles of paper. No mail today either. Guess I got so much in the past few days it's got me spoiled. Finally got a new boss [regimental S-3]  - Major Rubottom from the 1st Battalion [31st Inf.] - formerly exec down there. We were talking last night about the fact that we had received no word of [Lt.] Rolin Skilton. Remember I told you he was wounded the first day out of Hagaru-ri and was supposed to be evacuated by plane. I hope we get an A&D [medical admission and disposition] sheet on him soon.
[This was one of our major problems after Chosin, knowing that someone had been wounded, but not knowing what happened to them.]
        Hodges [Escue] finally found out that Charlene bought a Chevrolet. He said she wrote the letter as if she were on her knees hoping he would approve. Well, you can assure her that he really is happy about her buying the car. Better close now and get some sleep. I've been bothered with sinus headaches and this head cold for four days now. All the APCs and nose drops have been doing is ease it off temporarily and then it comes back again. Guess I'll have to hit the sack for a few days to beat it. [End 26 Dec 1950]

[An added note here about physical problems. When we were at the Fusen Reservoir Colonel MacLean came down with a "very bad cold." The regimental surgeon came into the CP one day and checked him over, and since his cot was set up behind a screen in the S-3 room of this schoolhouse, I overheard the surgeon telling him (trying to order him) to get to bed and stay there until he said it was OK to go outside. Having heard the colonel's hacking cough I had an idea why the surgeon was getting concerned. It was no more than 36 hours later when we were alerted to move to the Chosin Reservoir.]

28 December 1950 - 1420 hours

    Just a short note. Today I got your letters of the 5th and 18th - spread out, aren't they? I didn't write last night because I've been in the sack and pretty well doped with APCs, codeine and a little blue-green pill and a shot in the butt. Yesterday morning the headaches got the best of me so I saw our Doc and he put me to bed. Actually, I don't feel much better right now, sort of ache all over. Think I'll stay in the sack for another day. Most important - a poop sheet came out from division on five days R&R to Japan going into effect very shortly. Criteria for selection will be out later, but I guess we long-timers should stand a good chance. Anyway, I'm sure going to take it if I get the chance, because if I can I'm going to phone you as many times during the TDY as I can. So make sure someone is close to the phone - I'll probably call while it's night there. Enclosed is a money order for $100 - for you!

29 December 1950 - 2130 hours

   Another good mail day. Sure was wonderful to hear that you had received word from me, or of me. Actually I can't see why you didn't receive my first letter from Hungnam by that time [letter of 11 Dec] - but I'm sure glad you got the telegram. I'm sure it's the one that should have been sent by Sue [Robertson] - as a result of the talk I had with a nurse (I think it was Novotny) at the 8054th [hospital in Pusan] asking her to call Sue and have her either call or wire you. I guess I've explained all that in the letters I wrote in Pusan and on the ship. Stayed in the sack again today. Didn't feel too good this morning so the Doc gave me another shot and some more pills. Feel better tonight, but I'm still pretty well doped up with the pills. I guess it's from just being too run down, so I'm going to get all the rest I can and get rid of this cold. Hodges [Escue] and I were just discussing the TDY to Japan. He said he didn't want to tell Charlie because it'll make her wish she hadn't left Japan, and then said he'll have to tell her since I told you. I guess we couldn't blame her in a way, but I still agree with her going home after Hodges left [Japan].
[This highlights the confusion among many couples when we left Japan for Korea, wondering if the wife should go back to the states or not. Some military nurses were married and remained on active duty, and when the war began they were stuck in their jobs - Japan or Korea - for their full tour.]
    The five days in Japan is exclusive of travel which is by air, and the division has an initial quota of 200. Also, they came through the office for names of anyone with families in Japan, so I guess they will have the first crack at it.

End CJ 01.25.03


 

 

CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.30.03

IN THIS ISSUE we continue the series of letters last published in CJ 01.25.03. Here we cover letters  30-31 December 1950. Comments for clarification are in [brackets].




30 December 1950 - 1115 hours

  Finally one of our long lost typewriters showed up, the one belonging to Hodges [Escue] and along with it goes a story. When we were loading the ships up at Hungnam, Hodges's typewriter and a mussette bag with about five thousand dollars of a company payroll signed out to [Lt. C.Lee] Viviano [H2/31/7] were left in a small boat while the guys climbed up a net to board ship after having been told to drop their heavy stuff on the bottom of the boat, that it would be hauled up in nets. Well, as Viviano  was watching the boat from the deck of the ship - and the booms were about ready to haul the stuff on the ship - the motor on the small boat conked out and it slowly drifted away into the darkness. Can you imagine how Viviano felt? Strange as it may seem, an honest captain from one of the other outfits of the division walked in yesterday evening with both Hodges's typewriter and Viviano's payroll.

       Now for the doings of the day. I stayed in the sack all day long but this evening I feel quite a bit better. In fact, I took a bucket bath here next to the stove, I had to, and it sure did feel good. I want to wash my hair but I'll have to wait a while and make sure I'm rid of this cold, if that's ever possible. Some of the big-wigs, namely General Almond, are coming down for a big inspection tomorrow so most of the people around here have been hopping around a bit, just as they do in all armies I guess. Tomorrow I'm going to sit here at the desk and catch up with some of the citations I have to write.

       Don't think I've mentioned this before, but I'm recommending Hodges [Escue] for the Silver Star and from what I understand he's being recommended for another action also. I'm writing him up for the work he did for me up on the reservoir, helping evacuate the wounded. He went out on the ice [of the Reservoir] a few times and a lot further than I expected him to go to get some of the wounded soldiers by jeep, also going by jeep alone up the road and getting sixteen men out. On his attempt that afternoon to go up with a jeep and a truck he drove up to a pass, stopped, looked at the Chinese above on the ridge and they looked at him. He then turned the truck and his jeep around and drove away - no one fired a shot.

        That's just another example of the crazy war we fought up there. I guess I did fail to mention that he was shot at - and missed - a number of times. But I could sum up the situation in one sentence - If you weren't shot at you weren't at the [Chosin] Reservoir.

   Another funny, in a way. One day in Hagaru-ri Hodges Escue and Bob Boyer were sitting in the only "steam heated crapper" in the perimeter, and all of a sudden a burst came through the shack - so with pants down the ones sitting hit the dirt. Personally, I thought it was an accidently discharged carbine from the way it talked. One way or another, it still wounded one man, slightly. Enough of this war talk; didn't get any mail today - no one did. It's almost midnight now so I think it's about time to go to bed.




31 December 1950 - 2130 hours

Today I stayed out of the sack as much as possible, which was most of the day except for a nap I took after the late noon meal we had at three this afternoon. This darn inspection tied up most of the company, so the noon meal wasn't served until they got back from it. About 1400 CPT Clarke, LT Racek, Hodges and I dug out some crackers, kippered herring, cheese and beer for a snack which really tasted good. The first thing I did this morning was to buckle down and got started on the recommendations for awards which I had promised myself to do, so I got drafts typed out on three of them, Hodges being the first one. I gave them to the awards and decorations section and they'll take care of typing out the final copies for signature. All of the day was spent in the office except for frequent trips to the mess hall for coffee - my favorite pastime.


        You mentioned that Jennalee [McNally] said that Mac [LT Bill McNally, commo officer at Chosin] had said that I was OK when he left the outfit. Well, I was at the south end of the Reservoir [at Hagaru-ro] when the boys were coming down, and as a truckload [with Hodges Escue]  went by me, Sgt Beddingfield waved to me and I heard later that Mac was also in the truck, though I didn't see him. I guess he [Mac] was told in the truck that I had been seen.

   In the BOQ next door (to the S-3 office) and the S-1 office on the other side seem to be celebrating a little, but yet here in the S-3 office it's just as quiet as can be. [CPT] Dowell and I are writing letters; the S-2 sergeant seems to be writing also; and our new operations sergeant is reading magazines and sipping on a can of beer. Today LT Biddle, our special services officer, came back from Pusan and brought us each a case of beer in addition to some whiskey which is schedule to be consumed tomorrow night at another of the parties in the colonel's office, similar to the one for Christmas.

CPT Bob Drake [CO of Tank Company/31] was in today and showed me a few snapshots of his family at Camp Crawford  and said that they are having an excellent skiing winter up there [in Hokkaido]. In one shot which must have been taken weeks ago, it looked like there was over two feet of snow. Boy, those dependent houses sure did look good.

     A lot of the pictures on that roll were taken when we were at a place called Untaek [near Fusen Reservoir] just before we went to the Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir. Just added "Changjin" because I noticed that the TIME and NEWSWEEK call it by that name, but as far as we are concerned, it's still the "Frozen Chosin" and always will be. The other day when Hodges and I went out for a walk taking pictures, he took two or three of me so you'd better get word to Charlene to see them and get prints made.

    I mentioned a new operations sergeant we now have. Up to this time [CPL Lucian] Choate has been carrying the load and doing a nice job of it, but he's still too young to assume the full responsibilities of the job. The other day we got in a new master sergeant that should fit the job well from the looks of his background. During the last war he was commissioned a captain and spent some time as a regimental S-3, so if that doesn't qualify him, nothing does. He's doing an excellent job of getting the section reorganized. We are getting ready to pass out some medals, so tomorrow I've got to write the ceremony, complete with band and all. Don't know who's getting them, just word that they got general orders for some of them.

       It's almost midnight now - eight minutes to go - so I'm heating up my coffee and I'm going to have some of your cookies. From sampling packages here and there, here are some hints as to what I have liked in some of them: soda crackers, sardines, kippered herring, mixed nuts, etc., and just today I thought how good some pickled pigs feet would taste. Also, I need a shaving brush. Just before we left the Reservoir, we needed it much more for cleaning weapons, so that's what it turned out to be, a rifle cleaning brush. I've been using brushless but would rather use a brush. HAPPY NEW YEAR. It's now 1951 ... and I pray that you and I will be together again soon.



END NOTES

This completes the series of letters through 1950 at which time we still did not have official notice of what happened to 1LT Rollin Skilton (USMA 1946) who we knew had been seriously wounded on 6 December, the first day of the breakout from Hagaru-ri when he was a platoon leader with LT Robert Boyer's Provisional L Company 31/7 attached to the 7th Marines. The problem surfaced among the wives who learned that Mrs. Barbara Skilton had received a letter from Rollin, mailed through a Navy Fleet Post Office (FPO) stating that he was fine. Letters of early 1951 will reveal the source of this problem and what eventually happened to Skilton. This is one example of the administrative problem of recording casualties and establishing an official record after the Chosin campaign.

End CJ 01.30.03

escue1950christmas.jpg (68321 bytes)
Photo of Lieutenant Hodges Escue taken in South Korea Christmas day
1950 in the area of Service Company, 31st Infantry. [Click on the photo for a larger image.]
- Photo by Rasula