Skip to comments.The Death of A Regimental Combat Team
Posted on 12/09/2015 7:59:31 AM PST by WhiskeyX
Battle of the Chosin Reservoir 31st Regimental Combat Team, 11/27/50-12/1/50
The Death of A Regimental Combat Team
About 3000 American soldiers came. Over 1,000 stayed forever. They fought and died on a 10-mile stretch of frozen, snow-covered dirt road on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir.
The core of this account is taken verbatim from the Army report Chosin Reservoir. It is largely supplemented by extracts from a more definitive analysis, "East Of Chosin", Roy E. Appleman, 1987, and Chinese photographs and accounts in their Korean War Museum at Beijing. B.L.Kortegaard
* It was bitter cold. The temperature was below zero. The wind howled. Snow fell-a snow so dry that dust from the road mixed with it in yellowish clouds that swirled about the column of trucks. Tundra-like, bleak, and without vegetation in most places, the land was depressing.
Huddled together in the back of the trucks, the men of the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry, stomped their feet on the truck beds in futile attempts to keep their limbs from becoming stiff and numb. Most of them wore long woolen underwear, two pairs of socks, a woolen shirt, cotton field trousers over a pair of woolen trousers, shoepacs, pile jacket, wind-resistant reversible parka with hood, and trigger-finger mittens of wool insert and outer shell. To keep their ears from freezing they tied wool scarves around their heads underneath their helmets. Still the cold seeped through. Occasionally the entire column ground to a halt to permit the men to dismount and exercise for a few minutes. 
Lt.Col. Don C. Faith commanded the 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry. As part of the 7th Infantry Division and of X Corps (Maj.Gen. Edward M. Almond), the battalion was moving from Hamhung north to relieve marines on the east shore of Chosin Reservoir and then to continue the attack to the Yalu River. A man could take even stinging, stiffening cold if it meant the end of a war. And that was how things looked on this 25th day of November 1950. In fact, just before Faith's battalion left Hamhung some of the men had listened to a news broadcast from Tokyo describing the beginning of a United Nations offensive in Korea designed to terminate the war quickly. Originating in General of the Army Douglas MacArthur's headquarters, the report predicted that U.S. divisions would be back in Japan by Christmas. It had been cheering news. 
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Task Force Faith, also known as Task Force Maclean (and by its official designation, Regimental Combat Team 31 (RCT-31)) or the Polar Bear Regiment (Chinese: åæçå¢; pinyin: BÄi JÃ XÃong TuÃ¡n), was a United States Army unit destroyed in fighting at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War between 27 November â 2 December 1950. It comprised primarily infantry, artillery, and tank units from the 7th Infantry Division, numbering approximately 3,000 soldiers. Of these, about 600 were KATUSAs (Korean Augmentee To the U.S. Army). The name Task Force Faith was originally coined by a U.S. Army historian, however the unit was never known by this name. RCT-31, which consisted of the 31st Infantry Regiment and supporting units, had the 1/31 Infantry detached and the 1/32 Infantry (from the RCT-32) added, and the designation RCT-31 was never changed.
My Isshin Ryu karate instructor, Harold Long, was a Marine andone of the “Chosen Few”.....
My wife’s uncle’s remains is still over there somewhere.
Great site - thanks from one who there
What transpired at Chosin created some animosity between the US Army and the USMC, still lingering in some quarters today.
In my opinion, General Almond (Army) deserved much of the criticism he got.
An amazing, simply amazing battle. Talk about guts...those guys who hiked over that mountain in the middle of the night, in the snow up to their waists in 30 below zero temps and caught the Chicoms by surprise on the other side (who were caught totally with their pants down) and mortared the crap out of them...that's balls and toughness. They were already pretty frozen and compromised to begin with, but they did it.
You were there...argh. I just cannot imagine that nasty, bitter, BITTER cold. Can’t imagine it.
Agreed - as did the situation on Saipan in WWII, though I put much of the blame for that incident on USMC Gen Howlin Mad Smith...
Sounds even worse than Bastogne. Words fail me. Thank you for your service...
My wife and I visited the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, and they have an interesting exhibit there (if you havent’ been there)
They set up a diorama of some USMC machine gunners manning a pit on a rocky, snowy, mountainside, and air-conditioned the room to drop the temperature (I would guess it is around 45-60 degrees)
They project night landscape on the wall, and have tracers coming out and in, it is a pretty good job. My wife saw Tootsie Roll wrappers all around, and wondered why they were there, then read the description which explained it: They were running low on 60mm mortar ammo, so instead of broadcasting in the open they needed more 60mm (which would have let the Chicoms know they were low on mortar ammo) they said “we need more tootsie rolls” as code.
Apparently, someone didn’t get the message about the code, and they airdropped them a couple of crates of tootsie rolls. The troops making their way to safety made the best of it, but because it was so cold, they had to put them next to their skin so they could chew through them!
And...left a trail of tootsie roll wrappers behind them!
One of the things that was fascinating to me (and really unfortunate for them) was that there were a number of Marines who had been on (inactive?) reserve after WWII and were called up. They were quickly trained and formed back into some semblance of units, and sent to Korea where they ended up in Chosin at that place and time.
Some of those guys had fought last on Peleliu, which by all accounts, was some of the most taxing, bloody and gruesome combat of the war in 120 plus degree temps with little drinkable water...about as bad as it could apparently get.
Then, five or six years later, some of those exact same guys who had to fight in 120 degree plus temps ended up in Chosin fighting in 30 below zero temps.
Unbelievable. One can only imagine someone saying “What the hell kind of a deck of cards did I pull THIS from after being on Peleliu????”
I think in Bastogne, the temperatures were somewhere between 10-20 degrees, and in Chosin it got as low as -37, and that was without wind chill which was brutal (there were high winds at the time, probably coming across the Reservoir area I suppose)
Both of those sound awful to me. It sounds like most veterans who served in those engagements never, ever took a warm bed for granted again.
many of us know precious little about korea. this article helps. is there a book or two that you would recommend - as one who was there? my hat is off to you, and my gratitude to you and your fellows
I had never heard that before. Wow, talking about winning the reverse lottery twice. God bless each and every one of them...
I’ll have to put on my thinking cap and do some recalling - haven’t thought much about it in a while.
Here is one link with interesting material
I know, pretty appalling. That is why I said, I can very easily imagine some of those Marines who fought through Peleliu wondering what kind of crappy deck their cards were coming from...
wow. powerful pics...amazing how much materiel we threw into there...we the people know so little about korea. my uncle was there - got shot in the knee, but he never told anyone about his experience, although it was generally conceded that he wasn’t in any heavy fighting.
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