VETERANS DAY 2021 - My Father served with A Company, 1st Marine Division, 1st Engineers in Korea at Inchon, the Battle for Seoul and Chosin Reservoir. Here is an article depicting a typical Marine Rifle Company in Korea.
Daily News, Los Angeles
Thursday October 26, 1950
13 Purple Hearts, 4 graves tell the story of Rifle Squad
WONSAN, Korea, Oct 26 – There were 13 of them when the squad pulled out of San Diego, and today only five are left. Thirteen Purple Hearts – and wooden crosses over 4 graves – tell the story of their war...
This was the Second Rifle squad of the Third Platoon, “Dog” Company, Fifth Regiment, First Marine division – picked as the typical Marine squad when it sailed for Korea.
It fought in three critical battles in the south, landed at Inchon, and helped crack the Communist main line of defense at Seoul.
Look into the faces of these five Americans. They’re the faces of kids in their teens or early 20s who have seen a lot of war in less than three months, who are ready but not eager to take on more of it, and who don’t talk much about what they went through to save a country and a cause.
But from their matter-of-fact accounts, and the recollections of Sgt. Frank Kerr of Yakima, Wash., Marine photographer who went along to make records of the Leathernecks in action, came this story of the outfit they call the “Purple Heart” squad now.
It started with the drive toward Chinju. On the second day of the battle Pfc. Charles W. Heckman, 21, of Indianapolis, was holding a ridge west of Chindong-Ni. A bullet hit him in the chest. That was the first death.
Two men were wounded the same day – Pfc. Robert Skey, 20, of Ashland, Wis., and Pfc William H. Bushnell, 21, of Patterson, NJ. Skey nursed an arm injury for two months in a hospital in Japan and came back to duty.
On Aug. 17 the squad was in the thick of the fight for Obangi ridge in the Naktong bulge. The battalion gained and lost the ridge three times. Then came the final assault.
Communist shell fragments killed Pfc. Robert S. Hansler, 19, of McAllen, Tex., and Cpl. William L. McCarver, 20, of441 South McDonnell Avenue, Los Angeles. Pfc. Philip N. Lenz, 18, of Olivia Minn., was wounded by a machine-gun while putting out an air panel, and died before reaching an aid station.
The squad leader fell but the outfit pushed on. Five more men were wounded before the battalion finally smashed across the ridge and drove the enemy into the river. The squad had never had losses like that. It never lost that many men again.
The wounded that day were:
Sgt. Richard A. Reese, 23, the squad leader, Lewiston, Pa.
Pfc. Vandell J. Mayberry, 21, Paducah, Tex.
Pfc. Henry Roeniceros, 20, of 4950 Arrowhead court, Los Angeles.
Pfc. Lenerd M. Mateo, 18, San Francisco, Calif.
Pfc. Donald A. Kennedy, 20, of Seattle, Wash.
Pfc. Richard Kelly, 20, of 79 South Los Robles Street, Pasadena.
All but Reese, Mayberry and Roeniceros were back for the Inchon landing. By that time Mateo was known to his buddies as “the man they couldn’t kill.”
This teen-ager was almost a casualty in the squad’s first action in Korea. A water can fell on him from a plane.
It smashed his Browning automatic rifle but did not injure him. Then, in the Obangi ridge fighting, he was wounded by a grenade. It took him just three days to recover from that.
On Sept. 3rd, Mateo was hit by a 90-millimeter shell fragment. Four days out of action.
During the Inchon landing he helped his company knock out six tanks on the road to Seoul. His wounds opened up at that point and he was sent to a hospital, but several days later he was back with the squad.
The record for being out of action the shortest time belongs, though, to Cpl. Walter Baker, 21, of Earle, Ark., who got a shell fragment in the left hand during the Seoul attack. He was back in the fighting a day later.
Mateo isn’t the only one in the squad who was wounded more than once in this “typical squad.” But up to now the squad has received only one award recommendation. That’s because the battalion has been too busy fighting to handle the paperwork.
God Bless our Troops