©Copyright CJ Magro, Paratroopers of the 50's
pofchute
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 as follows:
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 (Sept)

Paratroopers of the 50's and Don Martin would  like to give a special thanks to
Jack Cicolello  for frunishing some old Life Magazine pictures of the Jump.
Save for him  by his sister "Elizabeth Legnetti, 1931-1996". 

Don, wishes to dedicate this Page to all Korean Veterans.

THE NAMES ARE HIGHLIGHTED BECAUSE THEY DESERVE IT !!

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 remember).
 

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 Red troops"
Picture front  page of  NY Daily  Mirror , 10-21- 1951, cost 3 cents

parakorea  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 bayonet me. 

 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 sick.
 

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) .



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