The Following account of the Sukchon combat
jump and the subsequent battles was furnished by: Don
Martin, 187 th ARCT, Co. I
Don complete service record is
Jump School-Ft Benning Aug.
1947 188th Prcht Inf. Regt, Hq. Co., Japan, 11th Abn Div.
187th Prcht Inf Regt, Co. I,
11th Abn Div, Ft Campbell 1950 187th Abn. RCT, Co. I , then
MP Plat, Korea 1950-51
The Inf. Sch., Ft. Benning, Ga.1952-1954 5th Inf. Div., Germany
1954-1955 101st Abn Div,
506th PIR, Co. E, Ft Campbell, Ky. 1955-57 25th Inf Div, 21st Inf,
Co. D, Hawaii 1960-1963
Univ of Tenn, ROTC duty 1963-64 4th Armd Div, Germany
1965-1967 Retired 1967
Paratroopers of the 50's and Don
Martin would like to give a special
for frunishing some old Life Magazine pictures of the Jump.
Save for him by his sister "Elizabeth
Don, wishes to dedicate this Page to all Korean
THE NAMES ARE HIGHLIGHTED BECAUSE THEY DESERVE
|Today, 20 October 1950, was the day that we
had all waited for since arriving in Korea.
To do what we had been trained to do. Make a combat parachute
assault behind enemy lines. We had been told that our mission (broadly)
was to intercept and block a train load of North Korean high officials
which had fled Pyongyang.
We were also told that there were allied POW's
on the same train. On landing, we would block escape routes
to the North. The 1st and 3rd Battalions would capture Sukchon, and
block two highways and the railway leading North. The 2d Battalion
would take Sukchon, block two highways and the railway leading North, and
hold the high ground to the North.
There were to be two drop zones
(Sukchon) and (Sunchon)
We had been issued ammunition and 3 days assault rations, had
finished packing all our door bundles and had held our troop briefings
for our unit missions. I was with Company I, 3d Battalion.
The First Sergeant was Cliff Strebe, 1st Platoon
Sergeant Mel Strawser, Mess Sergeant John
Fagg, Supply Sergeant John Worthington.
I don't remember the names of the other platoon sergeant's. I was
in company headquarters in the supply section. Worked with Worthington,
Ashley (KIA Inje) and Strebe. Fagg was KIA at Opari I think (can't
|We were formed into plane loads in stick order and shuttled to Kimpo
Airfield. Due to delays we did not take off until around noon. I
would guess that each man weighed over 250 pounds with all that we carried.
Our basic load of ammunition, 3 days assault rations, canteen of water,
pack, rifle, extra ammo, grenades, our pistol and ammo and anything else
we could carry that we figured we would need. Had a hard time
walking after we chuted up and had to be helped into the plane.
We had been told that prior to the jump, the Air Force would execute
bombing and strafing runs on and around the DZ. However, we might
have some anti-aircraft fire so be prepared. I am happy to say that
we did not experience any anti-aircraft fire. I will tell something
that later I thought was amusing -- after we had been given the order to
stand-up, hook-up and stand in the door, I was looking out a port hole
and saw a big black cloud of smoke. I ducked
instinctively, and thought to myself "oh my gosh, the Captain got it right
in the face". After realizing that there was no shrapnel coming
through the plane, I realized that the aircraft had back fired the smoke
from its engine.
|We were jumping C119s with T-7 Parachutes.
I didn't notice anything different with the opening shock. We got a lot
of cherry's on the neck and even bent helmets at times.
I don't remember what serial or plane I was in, but I think "A" &
"B" Companies were ahead of us, because they were supposed to take the
high ground to the northwest of DZ William.
Editors note: Caption at bottom
of page reads:
"sky blossoms with parachutes
as US Paratroopers jump from planes behind N. Korean lines to trap fleeing
Picture front page of
NY Daily Mirror , 10-21- 1951, cost 3 cents
|| I remember that when I landed (assumed
the PLF position) it was on the edge of a rice paddy bank about three feet
above the paddy itself. I landed on my toes on the edge of the bank, and
fell straight back into the paddy on my back. It
knocked the wind from me and I couldn't move to get out of my chute.
All I could hear was the sound of machine gun and rifle fire off
in the distance ,and with people running all around me. I
was expecting a "gook" to come over the bank of the paddy and shoot or
Was I glad, when a friendly voice stuck his head over the bank
and asked if I needed any help. He helped me get out of my chute, and when
I started to walk, I found that I had sprained both of my ankles. (I guess
due to all the weight I had on me and landing on my toes at the edge of
the paddy bank). He told me I should turn myself in to the aid station.
I told him, I wasn't really hurt and they would be taking care of others
who really needed it. I could shuffle along fairly well, and as the day
progressed, the sprains got better.
By the next day, there wasn't much left of the ankle pain.
As I remember it, the weather was very nice. Clear, fairly warm and
the sun was shining. Just a nice fall day. I do remember also about
running out of water, and my mouth was spitting cotton. Came by a small
rut in a rice paddy with some water in it and filled my canteen from it.
I think we were supposed to put 4 water purification tablets in it, and
just to make sure, I put 8 in. I guess it worked, because I didn't get
|All in all, it was a very good jump. Weather
was excellent, no flack, good formation of the aircraft, all of our door
bundles and monorail bundles were found, no jump casualties, and light
opposition to begin with. By 1630 hours the Battalion had
secured all its objectives and we were holding the high ground south of
Sukchon. Company I was on the left and Company K on the right in a defensive
position. We didn't have any trouble with assembly,
mainly due to the time of our jump (daylight).
That night, "K" Co was hit at about 0230 by
an estimated enemy company trying to break through their road block. The
attack was repulsed.
The next morning, "I" Co. was given a mission of making a recon in
force to clear the railroad. We went into Opari without any opposition,
but at about 1300 hours we were ambushed by about two enemy battalions,
using mortars and 40 mm ack ack guns. After about two hours, we
were overrun and lost two platoons (about 90 men missing), and we
pulled back to hill 281. The "gooks" didn't follow through and fell
back to their former positions. This action was where Pfc.
Wilson received the Medal of Honor.
There was a lot more that happened before the land tail arrived,
but I think that is another story. All you wanted from me was about the
jump, and I think I covered that pretty well from someone who was there.
If you look at the pictures of the drop, that
appear in books and elsewhere and if you look real close, you might
just see me up there (somewhere) .