Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole - Engineers in Korea - Three of them earned the Medal of Honor - Oct. 17th, 2005
Posted on 10/16/2005 10:47:48 PM PDT by snippy_about_it
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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Combat Engineers are builders by trade, but in Korea they also served as infantrymen.
Three of them earned the Medal of Honor posthumously - Korean War
In Korea, one side or the other seemed always in forceful advance--or hasty retreat. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure that one day served an attacking U.S. Army might the next day merit destruction to slow a pursuing enemy. Building, demolition and rebuilding became daily routine, and invariably these tasks fell to the Army's combat engineers.
But these men were much more than contractors in uniform. Never far from their bulldozers and blasting caps were the rifles and grenades that might at any moment turn them from engineers into infantrymen. Over and over, combat conditions led engineers to fight bravely, hit the enemy hard and pay the ultimate price. No fewer than three engineers received the Medal of Honor for battlefield heroism.
Engineers in Korea had two main tasks--get American troops and materiel to where they were needed and frustrate similar enemy movements whenever possible. Combat engineers built roads through rice paddies and over mountain passes, often under extreme weather conditions and enemy fire.
"One road we built over a mountain took so much dynamite that we called it Demolition Drive," recalls Dan Teoro of the 2nd Engineers. They also constructed scores of bridges over the largest rivers in Korea--including five separate spannings of the Han and a 2,400-foot railroad-ready crossing of the Taedong.
More than once, engineers built roads and bridges to facilitate an American advance only to destroy those same structures later during a withdrawal. "It didn't always seem to make much sense, but that's what the Army needed" says Ray Miller of the 62nd Engineers.
In their "spare" time, the engineers built airstrips and training facilities, assisted with the landing at Inchon, created sewage and drainage systems, rehabilitated war-torn railroads and buildings, and set up water towers and POW camps. One engineering unit established a telephone exchange. Another built a 500-bed, 62-building hospital campus. Yet another constructed a Korean "Boys Town" for war orphans. And for Christmas 1953, engineers even built a nativity scene.
Ready to Fight
But these men were trained for combat as well as construction. "We were always ready to fight" says Teoro. "When a big bunch of Chinese would come in, the infantry needed all the help they could get."
In July 1950, the 2nd Engineers helped defend Yongsan, not far from Pusan. In August, the 14th Engineers fought as infantry on the Naktong River line. When the push north came in September, the 3rd Engineers were in the thick of the fighting. And so it went throughout the war--engineers building one moment and fighting the next.
In September 1950, Pfc. Melvin Brown (8th Engineers) showed just how good an engineer could be at fighting. Under attack by North Korean troops at Kasan, Brown found himself atop a 50-foot wall that protected the American position. With an automatic rifle, he raked the attackers with deadly accuracy. When his ammunition ran out, he lobbed grenades into the advancing enemy at the base of the wall, and when his own grenades were gone, other GIs began tossing him theirs.
With the grenade supply exhausted and the attackers still trying to come over the wall, Brown held his position, smashing each enemy in turn with a shovel as the attacker climbed to the top of the wall. Eventually, however, a shovel was no match for bullets, and Brown was killed.
Sometimes engineers served as the final rear guard, holding a road or bridge open in the face of advancing enemy while other GIs and artillery withdrew.
In July 1950, the 3rd Engineers were the last U.S. soldiers to cross the Kum River during the brief Allied defense of that line.
And in November, the 2nd Engineers held off attacking Chinese troops while elements of the U.S. 8th Army withdrew from the Pyongyang region of North Korea. Once the last American artillery units had passed safely southward, the engineers pulled out, too, but with tremendous casualties. When the battalion eventually regrouped, only 266 of its original 977 men remained.
During another American withdrawal--from Taejon in July 1950--Sgt. George Libby (3rd Engineers) became the sole uninjured survivor of an enemy attack on a troop truck. Hailing a passing artillery tractor, Libby helped several wounded aboard.
Then, as this makeshift ambulance lumbered down the road--stopping repeatedly to load more wounded--he positioned himself between the driver and the intense enemy fire. Though wounded almost immediately, Libby continued to blaze away at the enemy as the vehicle broke through hostile roadblocks.
When multiple wounds made it impossible for him to fire any longer, he used his body to shield the driver. Eventually, the tractor and its precious cargo broke free of the enemy, but Libby later died from his wounds.
Cpl. Dan Schoonover was another hero engineer. In July 1953, Schoonover (13th Engineers) was in charge of a demolition squad working with an infantry company to dislodge the enemy from Pork Chop Hill. When hostile fire prevented his men from performing their engineering job, Schoonover led them, as a rifle squad, up the steep hill.
For the rest of that day and into the next, he made victory his personal goal, killing an untallied number of enemy with rifle, pistol, grenades and machine gun. Even when the infantry company was relieved, Schoonover remained on the hill to fight. He was eventually killed while mowing down attacking troops with an automatic rifle.
Brown, Libby and Schoonover all received the Medal of Honor--posthumously--for their bravery.
In all, engineering units in Korea suffered 2,706 battle casualties, including 850 battlefield deaths.
But even when the war ended, the engineers' work did not. In August 1954, the 84th Engineers sculpted two terraces on a hillside just north of the Imjin River, and in two weeks created a miniature city there. With great solemnity, the bodies of American war dead were brought to this lonely place and afforded the respect and dignity they deserved.
The Navy had its own version of combat engineers--the Seabees. Created during World War II, the Seabees became a potent force in Korea, too, as their strength grew from 3,300 to 14,000 men during the war. Although officially called "amphibious construction battalions," the Seabees operated wherever they were needed and quickly became known for their daring, can-do approach to solving problems.
Seabees saw their first Korean action in September 1950 at Inchon, where they succeeded in building a flexible, floating causeway from ship to shore--despite heavy enemy fire, swift currents and 30-foot tides.
Then, with American troops and materiel bottlenecked at the port, a handful of Seabees sneaked through enemy lines. They commandeered a pair of locomotives abandoned by the North Koreans and triumphantly braved enemy fire to deliver the engines to the Army for moving men and supplies inland.
Another Seabee specialty was airfield construction and repair. In 1952, waves of Navy planes daily attacked targets inland from the North Korean port of Wonsan. Many of the aircraft took hits, often forcing the pilots to choose between ditching at sea or landing in enemy territory.
In 16 days, the Seabees built an emergency airstrip on Yo Do Island in Wonsan Harbor, under the very nose--and pounding fire--of the enemy. Within hours after the 2,400-foot runway was complete, seven U.S. planes had made emergency landings.
Looks like not posting has made me kind of rusty. Sorry for the error of the MOH medal not showing and for using the 20th's Engineer Brigade unit patch when none of these guys was in the 20th.
I'm going back into retirement!
Nein. Es ist verboten.
SEMI-retirement is both acceptable and well-earned.
NOBODY is ever truly "retired" until they're dead.
Your birdstore couldn't yet withstand your demise, nor can we Foxholers. There's also your partner in birdcrime to consider!
I'm TRYING to say that I and many others are grateful for, and appreciate, all the work you have done, and are doing , for this little corner of FR, history, and the wealth of information dispersed by this (these) thread(s)
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing just how minor and insignificant my worries really are.
My reply was delayed (for 4 minutes) for no reason *I* can think of, so here's what I sent to the admin mod and Jimrob.
It's one thing to monitor comments to potentially controversial threads by newbies, or even threads BY newbies and the comments derived therefrom.
However, I am somewhat affronted by the unwarranted delay in *allowing* my thanks to "snip" (my personal nick for her).
Perhaps this may be related to my attempt earlier today at responding to (and factually refuting ALL) the arguments of an attempted troll (PRE-ZOT, the thread lasted less than the time it took to refute his 3000+ word essay, which I had well in hand, and the dismissal was far better constructed than his ATTACK on everything that makes our society great).
The fact remains that my mere thank-you note HAD TO BE VETTED by one of the moderators in order to be posted.
I am truly disappointed in you. I thought that a longtime supporting member and hardcore conservative (though I AM Canadian) could post with MINIMAL interference by "the powers that be".
I was merely trying to THANK "snippy_about_it" for her hard work and dedication in research, collation, amalgamation and presentation of the "Freeper Foxhole" threads.
I really AM having a bad day. I'll STFU now. DANG it's annoying when stuff hits the fan....
The memory of our three lads, so gallant and brave, so willing to do their whole duty and more when needed should be held in our hearts forever.
SAM mentioned Combat Engineers blowing bridges far behind enemy lines during the Ardennes Offensive, the Bulge. A most excellent story that must be, a story with which I am unfamiliar. To my chagrin.
The last image before the beginning of the SeaBee section is of a Cav fellow removing the detonators from anti-tank mines based on a British design. Got some pictures somewhere, where I don't know! I don't think they are actual British mines because they seem too big. Very possible they are Russian take-offs on the British units.
The can contains jellied nitroglycerin and the detonator slips under the raised flat plate on the top of the can (as our guy is holding the mine). The detonator in the picture seems to be a conventional wired blasting cap. There was a special crushing fired detonator used in WWII made of glass tubing with sealed ends and containing sulfuric acid with the whole thing wrapped and soldered into lead foil. When the glass was broken sulfuric acid escaped and ignited a pellet of stuff like the white tip of kitchen matches, then black powder, and then mercury fulminate.
The British would lay them by the truckload in front of their barbed wire going out for hundreds of yards within hours of occuping the postion. Americans scoffed but this system worked very well. The mine was designed to blow the track off of a tank and was very rarely buried.
snippy's back, if only for the moment :-)
Off to work I go, have a maint. shutdown the nest few days, busy, busy.
Good morning Snippy, Sam and every one.
Good Monday morning. Good to see you guys again.
Thanks for the thread.
|October 17, 2005
Beware Of A Judgmental Spirit!
A young married man began going to a pornography store. When his parents learned of this, they gently and tactfully confronted him, but made no accusations. The son responded with anger and said that he saw no harm in what he was doing. He accused his parents of being judgmental. With broken hearts they had to stand by and watch him as he left his wife and family, lost his job, and eventually ruined his life.
Many people today would say that his parents had no right to imply that he was doing wrong. They may even quote Jesus' words: "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Matthew 7:1).
But the Bible makes it clear that we are responsible to humbly confront fellow believers when we see them caught in sin (Galatians 6:1-2). These parents were lovingly doing just that.
Jesus wasn't saying we shouldn't confront sin. He was saying we must be very careful in making judgments. Paul wrote that love thinks no evil (1 Corinthians 13:5). We must give others the benefit of the doubt, recognizing our own limitations. And we must reject any feeling of spiritual superiority, lest we also fall into sin.
Confronting someone is a serious responsibility. Exercise it carefully, and always beware of judging. Herb Vander Lugt
Judge yourself before you judge another.
Didn't the Seabees or Army Corps of Engineers use the capsized hull of a freighter as a jetty and built a dock on it someplace?
Howdy, PE. Thanks for the Flag-o-gram.
What's Bittygirl been up to??
On This Day In History
Birthdates which occurred on October 17:
1711 Jupiter Hammon 1st American black to publish poetry (Complete Works)
1817 Samuel Ringgold Ward Maryland, minister/abolitionist/author
1848 William "Candy" Cummings created the curve ball
1886 Spring Byington Colo Springs, actress (Lily Ruskin-December Bride)
1903 Irene Ryan El Paso Texas, actress (Granny-Beverly Hillbillies)
1903 Jerry Colonna Boston Mass, comedian (Bob Hope USO shows. Jerry Colonna Show)
1912 John Paul I 263rd Roman Catholic pope (1978)
1915 Arthur Miller playwright (Death of a Salesman, The Crucible)
1919 Rita Hayworth NY (Alzheimer victim), actress (Gilda, Pal Joey)
1920 Montgomery Clift actor (From Here to Eternity)
1921 Maria Gorokhovskaya USSR, gymnast (Olympic-gold-1952)
1921 Tom Poston Columbus Ohio, actor (Steve Allen Show, Newhart)
1926 Karl G Henize Cincinnati Ohio, astronaut (STS 51F)
1928 James "Junior" Gilliam Dodgers (NL rookie of year 1953)
1930 Jimmy Breslin Queens NYC, columnist (NY Post, News, Newsday)
1933 William A Anders Hong Kong, Maj Gen, USAF/astronaut (Apollo 8)
1934 Jeannine Decker and known as Soeur Sourire (The Singing Nun)
1938 Robert "Evel" Knievel motorcycle daredevil
1942 Gary Puckett vocalist (& the Union Gap-Woman Woman, Young Girl)
1946 Bob Seagren Pomona Calif, actor (Soap)/pole vaulter (Olympic-gold-68)
1947 Michael McKean NYC, actor (Lenny-Laverne & Shirley)
1948 George Wendt Chicago Ill, actor (NORM!-Cheers)
1948 Margot Kidder Yellowknife, actress (Lois Lane, Amityville Horror)
1956 Mae C Jemison Decatur Alabama, MD/astronaut (Sked:STS 47)
1959 Dolph Lundgren actor(?) (Rocky 4, Masters of the Universe)
Hey! What's wrong with the 20th!!