Korean War: Not Forgotten By Those Who Fought It.

This past Saturday marked the anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War.  North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950.  Combined American and United Nations troops soon intervened and pushed the enemy to the Yalu River.  Communist China countered, ensuring that there would be no quick resolution.  The conflict would last a full three years.  American casualties would number over 50,000 dead, with another 100,000 wounded.

South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak, recently expressed his country’s appreciation for the American soldiers who fought in the Korean War.  “Our nation will never forget your sacrifice,” Lee wrote.  “The great commitment and courageous sacrifice of the American veterans was at the foundation of the Republic of Korea’s development and prosperity. I express my deep appreciation to all Korean War veterans and their families.”

Sadly, it was recently reported that only one in five high school seniors could name the combatants in the Korean War.  Forgotten War?  Maybe by some, but not by the people of South Korea, nor by those brave Americans who fought it.

Allen Pfeiffer – 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division

Allen Pfeiffer - 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division

Allen Pfeiffer and his 5th Marines were front and center at MacArthur’s top secret landing at Inchon in September 1950.  The enemy-held South Korean capital lay next in line.  “We were on a hill outside Seoul,” Pfeiffer said.  “…They hit us with everything they had—tanks, men, all of it.  That first night, we lost about half our company.

“…Right in the early morning of about the third or fourth day, I remember this machine gunner was right beside me on this hill.  The guy that fed it, he got shot.  I grabbed his legs and pulled him off and got up there and started feeding that machine gun myself.  And the guy that was shooting the machine gun, he quit shooting.  And at that time, I felt something hot hit me on the face.  So I grabbed it and pulled it off.  It was his brains.

“…Man, we fought like hell all night long and they just kept coming.  Eventually, they overran us.  They were up on top, amongst us and then, driving down the backside of the hill.  They probably overran us and got beat back five times that night.  It was all hand-to-hand, eyeball-to-eyeball, fixed-bayonet fighting.

“…At Guam, we did extensive training on how to come down on a guy with the barrel of your M1, snapping his collarbone.  You’d then push up through, under his chin with the heel of your weapon.  That would take care of it.  Getting overrun like we were, we had to do that all night long.”

Already desperate, Pfeiffer’s situation took a decided turn for the worse.  “This guy was an officer and the biggest Korean I ever saw.  He’s the one that really got me.  He stabbed me with his bayonet—ran it all the way through my left thigh… .  Well, after I took care of him, I pulled the bayonet out.  …There were so many around that you couldn’t do anything, but just keep fighting.  A corpsman came up and tried to pour some powder in and bandage it to stop the bleeding, but there wasn’t much he could do.  I just kept fighting … bleeding like a stuck hog.

“…I felt my legs getting hot.  I looked down and they were just full of shells and shrapnel.  My legs had taken so many hits that my pants were just bloody rags, all ripped to shreds.   Those damn Russian ‘burp guns’ really filled me up.”

Pfeiffer’s comrades came to his aid.  “They could see that I was about done—in really bad shape.  They laid me down and tried to stop some of the bleeding, but I had too many holes.  They just started wrapping me up and said, ‘You’ve got to get out of here, but you’re going to have to try and make it down by yourself.’  So they gave me a .45.  I took everything else off and started down the hill, back towards the CP.  I kept passing out, in and out of consciousness due to loss of blood.

“…I made it down to the road, which was a good mile from where I got hit.  I don’t even know if it was the same day or not.  A jeep almost ran over me.  It hit the brakes, slid and came back.  It was one of my friends.  He was out looking for me.  On the radio, they had said I was coming down the hill.  He laid me in the jeep and took me back.”

Miraculously, Pfeiffer would survive, though his war was over. Looking back, it’s the men he thinks of most.  “My old squad leader, … we get together all the time.  We talk about anything and everything, except the war.  I don’t know if it’s him or me.  Probably both.  We’ve just never brought it up.

“But all the guys, that’s really the thing.  …We still call each other and stop by to visit when we can.  We’re just one big family.”

Pfeiffer had not heard from one buddy in particular since that last day at Seoul.  Decades later, he decided to look him up.  On a trip south, Pfeiffer paid him a surprise visit.  “When we got together, when he saw me for the first time, he looked like he’d seen a ghost.  He looked at me and said, ‘I saw you die!  Tanker, I saw you die! You were laying there with blood all over and you were dead!’

“He must have seen me passed out on that hill outside Seoul and took me for dead.  For all these years, he thought I was gone.  It was real emotional.  He hung onto me, wouldn’t let go, crying like crazy.  He kept crying, hugging me and saying over and over, ‘I saw you die!  Man, I saw you die!’  …When we say, Semper Fi, we mean it.”

Bob Weeks – 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division

Bob Weeks - 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Div.

On February 14, 1951, Bob Weeks and his Company L, 9th Infantry held tenuous positions at Chuam-ni, west of Wonju.  At dawn, a full Chinese regiment attacked and soon overwhelmed the Americans.  The rout was on.  “It all began early in the morning, just after daybreak,” Weeks said, reliving the horror.  “They hit us hard with so many at once.  They were overrunning us and we were withdrawing.  And when I say ‘withdrawing,’ I mean as fast as we can go.

“…I was driving a jeep, pulling an ammo trailer behind it, and there was an explosion.  I looked around and the trailer was gone.  The jeep had four flat tires.

“About that time, I got shot twice in the leg.  The one went in and out, completely through my knee.  The other bullet hit in the front part of my lower leg—the shin area.  It hit that big flat bone in front and just sheared it off.

“One of our tanks came by and somehow I climbed up on the back of it.  …I really couldn’t walk, couldn’t put any weight on that bad leg.  …We continued on down this road and there’s just shot-up, blown-up, burnt-up vehicles all over the place.  Things are bad and we’re at the tail end of it all.

“…The Chinese blew the bridge out in front of us.  We went down into this rice paddy on the terrace area.  When we went to get up and out on the other side, we couldn’t.  For whatever reason, the tank couldn’t get up the incline and we were stuck there.  …The tankers all got out in a hurry and took off running.  They knew I was there, but we were taking a lot of fire and they said they didn’t have time to mess around with me.  So they just left me there.”

Advancing enemy soldiers quickly overran Weeks.  “They just swarmed the area.  They’ve got me.  They’re all around me.  They’re in and out of this tank, throwing all the good stuff out.

“…I made the mistake of moving a little and one of them shot me, right in the stomach.  …I really thought he killed me because I blacked out.  I don’t know if it was for seconds, minutes or what.  …I thought I was done and was really saying my prayers.”

A single trooper was left behind to guard Weeks, as Chinese forces continued to push south.  “I lay there all day on the back of that tank terrace.  I was going to try to crawl away, but I had no strength left.  Getting shot in the stomach just knocks everything out of you.”

Near day’s end, the British 27th Brigade came to the rescue, reinforcing the beleaguered Americans.  The combined units beat the Chinese back.  Weeks’ guard fled the scene.  “After awhile, I began to hear British voices in the distance.  After quite some time, they finally got to me and picked me up.”

Weeks would survive.  Though he spent literally years in and out of various hospitals, you’ll hear no complaints.  “I got shot three times.  I’ve had 12 cutting operations and one laser surgery.  And, if you didn’t know it, you could never tell.  That’s how good the Lord’s been to me.”

Bob Moore – 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division

Bob Moore-9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division

In the fall of 1952, Bob Moore and his Company I, 9th Infantry moved to the Old Baldy sector.  “We were on a little finger maybe a few hundred feet down and left from Baldy,” Moore described.  “The guys that we were replacing were saying things like, ‘Piece of cake.  No problem.’

“But … our battalion XO came in and had a chat with us.  He said, ‘Don’t let those guys fool you.  This is a very bad hill.  Maybe they had an easy stretch, but this is a bad hill.  It’s going to take every bit of your training to stay alive on Baldy.’

“We got up there and they hit us right away.  They’re killing us and we’re killing them.  I think they wanted to test us.  And boy, they sure did.  You’d stay up on the mountains during the day, then go down in the valleys and kill each other at night.  That’s just the way it was in Korea.  … You killed them and they killed you.  … In this sector alone, I lost over half of my platoon.”

Moore was soon tagged by shrapnel from an exploding landmine.  “I got hit in my shoulder, arm and hand.  We got caught in a minefield.  There were a lot wounded.  Our medic, Doc Sellers was killed.

“…A lot of the pieces are still in me today.  Several years ago, I hurt my hand and had to have it X-rayed.  They said, ‘What in the world is in your hand?’  I still had these big chunks of metal in there.”

Forgotten War?  Not so for Allen Pfeiffer, Bob Weeks, Bob Moore and the others who fought it.  “So many died, so many friends and nobody cared,” Moore said.  “I don’t care what anybody says, the Korean War was very important!  That’s where we stopped the communists.  South Korea’s still there today!”

Read more on Pfeiffer, Weeks, Moore and over 7o other combat veterans, from the American Revolution to the War in Iraq, in Michael McCoy’s new release, EVERYTOWN, USA.

Leave a Reply

Search this Site

Purchase the Books


Privacy Policy