I was just 19 years old and really didnít understand the politics of why I was in Korea. I was sitting at Fort Campbell in June of 1950 looking forward to getting discharged in August when the Korean War broke out. President Truman added a year to my time in service and next thing I know we are taking some refresher training and getting ready to go to Korea. We went by train (3 days and 3 nights) to Camp Stoneman, California, from there we loaded on the A.E. Anderson and sailed to Moji Japan (2 weeks) in transit.
We flew from Moji Japan to Kimpo, Air Field,
and were inserted into the line of defense around the airfield. That was
our introduction into a combat situation. Now we were getting ready to
make a jump in behind enemy lines. I remember we had to go study a sand
model of the terrain in the Sukchon area and get our assignments.
Resistance was light on the drop zone, but early the next morning about 3 or 4 AM all hell broke loose for our company. We were in a secondary position behind the 3rd battalion, which was holding some high ground south of Sukchon. We were along the side of a road sort of curving in a slight arc Perpendicular to the road, so that we could defend it from any one passing. I was right down on the edge of the road in a shallow fox hole with my bazooka partner; we were set up with a 3.5 bazooka to watch the road. Over to my left and up a little higher that the road was our 30 Cal. Machine gun team.
It was my time to be awake; it was about 3 or 4 AM when I heard voices coming down the road towards our position. I thought they must be South Korean Troops (ROKíS) because they were not trying to be quite at all.
Then I heard our Platoon leader Captain Pendagrass shout a challenge in the direction of the talking, thatís when the first shots were fired.
These were North Korean troops that had broken through our first line of defense and they were just coming down the road like they owned it. The next 4 or 5 hours was like an eternity to me.
The North Koreans had dispersed into rice patties that were across the road and in front of us, to our immediate right was an orchard of some kind with lots of trees. As the fighting intensified that morning, the NKís started to move up into the Orchard area so they could flank us.
It was at this time, that Sgt. Donald Deneau exposed himself by running across the road and taking up a defensive position behind a dead cow that was laying in the orchard ( I donít know what killed the cow small arms fire I guess). He began to lay down some steady rifle fire and kept the NKís from advancing into the Orchard area. He was later awarded the Silver Star for his Gallantry in this action. Sgt Deneau is still living and active in the Rakkasans
I had fired so many rounds through my MI rifle
that I had oil oozing out of the wood stock around the barrel of my rifle
and was down to my last clip of ammo.
After this we were moved into Pyongyang until they were able
to set up a military government. It was during this time that we got to
see Bob Hope, Less Brown and the Taylor maids put on a show for the troops.
This was on October the 30th 1950, In November the Chinese entered the
war and it was not long until we were retreating out of Pyongyang. Thatís
another story, this is what I remember from the jump at Sukchon. It has
been a long time (50yrs.) and some of my facts may not be absolutely correct,
for this I apologize, I have done the best I could to be accurate.
|Editor's note: Paratroopers of the 50's and Gerald W. Krueger 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. Some of the picture shown were taken from Life Magazine, Vol. 30, No. 15 April 9, 1951 . Photographed for Life by John Dominis and Joe Scherschel.|
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