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Army Magazine >> Army Magazine Archive >> ARMY Magazine - December 2002 >> Letters Email this... Email    Print this Print



As a former field artilleryman, I could not let Col. K. Kobata’s recent comments (September) about my "Artillery in Afghanistan" letter to the editor (July) go unanswered. Providing artillery support to the ground troops is not mission creep. It is essential. To fail to do so when it can be made available is criminal. Field Artillery is a basic combat arm, and the Army fights as a combined arms team. The revolution in military affairs and thinking outside of the box do not negate that. Infantrymen should never go anywhere without Field Artillery. Even Custer learned why he should have had it. Besides, we have been told by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks to expect the military to stay in Afghanistan for a long time. They cited Korea as an example in their press statements. Further, I do not regard artillery support as bureaucratic. I also was in I Corps in Vietnam (with the 101st Airborne Division) and we gladly used everything we were given in the way of fire support. Events in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan support my contention. The "bad guys" ran off the Apache helicopters, neutralized the mortars with direct fire and shot up our troops. The guys on the ground had to wait until nightfall before the Air Force AC-130 gunships would fly and give them 105 mm gun support. The Field Artillery is still the only 24 hour, all-weather fire support system that we have. Let’s give it to the troops and keep it coming!

Steilacoom, Wash.

Recent issues of ARMY (August, September) have contained accounts of the intense combat at the village of Chipyong-ni in Korea during February, 1951. The U.S. units involved were, initially, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) of the 2nd Infantry Division, and subsequently, the 5th Cavalry Regiment (Reinforced) of the 1st Cavalry Division. I forwarded copies of these accounts to an old friend. He was a rifleman (Browning automatic rifleman) in Company A, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment at that time and had previously served in rifle units in the European Theater of Operations in World War II. I thought he might be interested. He was.

My friend’s comments on the articles are terse but to the point. He was disappointed that none of the authors seem to have been participants in the battle, and he suspected that none had even visited the site. He notes that while he and others in his unit were glad to see the 5th Cav and the tanks arrive, they hardly felt any need for a "rescue" force. His comments on the behavior of Col. Crombez, commander of the 5th Cav are less tolerant. He notes that for the move to Chipyong-ni, Col. Crombez got into the fifth tank in line, slammed the hatch shut and was not seen again until the move was completed. My friend refers to Col. Crombez’s technique for transporting the accompanying infantry personnel on the decks of the tanks where they were completely exposed to small arms fire and shell fragments en route as reprehensible. He adds that even members of Col. Crombez’s staff were outspoken against him regarding that ploy.

He continues by stating that the 23rd RCT was really saved by the resupply air drops prior to the arrival of the 5th Cav. He cites the re-supply of rifle ammunition in loose rounds as a real problem, and that he and others had to scrounge used M-1 clips from around the perimeter.

Commenting on Col. Freeman, commander of the 23rd RCT, my friend recalls him as a good commander and a nice guy. He goes on to say that had Col. Freeman felt the situation of the 23rd RCT was questionable in any way, he would not have allowed himself to be medically evacuated. In my opinion, those seemingly mild remarks really represent high praise indeed when coming from a "rear-rank grunt" who was also a veteran combat Infantryman.

Santa Fe, N.M.

My article, "The Forgotten War’s Forgotten Task Force" (July), which deals with the role of Task Force Dog in assisting our entrapped troops in the 1950 Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, has provided Col. Gilberto Villahermosa with the opportunity to cleverly extol the performance of the 65th Infantry Regiment in that endeavor. I am in agreement with Col. Villahermosa’s letter (September) insofar as it contends that Task Force Childs falls in the same category in which I placed Task Force Dog by my assertion that its performance "has been inadequately recognized" by historians. However, I am of the opinion that the limited space available in a letter to the editor for a complete presentation of facts has caused what appears to be an overstatement of the importance of the role played by Task Force Childs in the Chosin withdrawal. In particular, I cannot agree with Col. Villahermosa’s conclusion that if Task Force Childs had not successfully accomplished its mission, "it is unlikely that the marines or the men of Task Force Dog would have survived to fight another day."

I mentioned the roles of the 65th Infantry Regiment and its Company G on two occasions in my article. Although I felt that further discussion about them would exceed the scope of my article, I am certainly aware of the valuable help they provided. It can be said that every friendly unit that held a piece of commanding terrain from Koto-ri to Hamhung made an important contribution to the successful withdrawal by discouraging the enemy from occupying that ground. In my opinion, the participation of the 65th Regiment in the Chosin withdrawal warrants an article in itself. An article would permit a detailed presentation of the facts and the citation of specific authority to support those facts. Many interesting questions raised by Col. Villahermosa’s letter could be answered in an article.

Why was Lt. Col. Childs, rather than the regimental commander, commanding a powerful task force that included two of the 65th Regiment’s three organic infantry battalions?

Is there any credible evidence to contradict information that Task Force Childs provided flank security for only two miles north of Majon-dong during Task Force Dog’s nine-mile movement to Chinhung-ni on December 7, 1950? If so, how far was the flank security provided? Was this at least as far as the six-mile distance to Sudong where there had been recent enemy activity? What enemy contact, if any, was encountered by Task Force Childs on this mission? (The movement of Task Force Dog to Chinhung-ni was positively made on December 7, rather than the 8th as indicated in Col. Villahermosa’s letter.)

When did the elements of Task Force Childs return to their positions at Majon-dong?

Rather than Company G being left at positions in the vicinity of Sudong, was it not moved to those positions because of a request for this help from Task Force Dog on the afternoon of December 8?

Besides the positions assigned to Company G, did any other elements of Task Force Childs occupy positions north of Majon-dong during the period December 8-11, 1950?

Is there any validity to the statement by Lt. Col. Roy E. Appleman, a prominent Army historian, in his book Escaping the Trap, (page 284) that "the 65th Regiment was unable to establish control of the road for the entire distance to Chinhung-ni"? If so, why was this?

I hope that Col. Villahermosa will have the time in his new assignment to write such an article. From his articles and my prior discussions with him it is obvious that he has the expertise.

Virginia Beach, Va.

Regarding "The Forgotten War’s Forgotten Task Force" by Col. George O. Taylor Jr., (July), I take exception to the author’s use of the term "Task Force Faith," although I understand why he used it. The 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT) existed at Chosin and that designation was never changed except in the minds of writers who took the easy way out by becoming copy-cat historians. The 31st Infantry landed in North Korea as RCT 31, as did other regiments of the 7th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Division. The reason was the dispersion of forces that dictated RCT formations. When RCT 31 was ordered to the Chosin Reservoir it did so with a minor change in organization: 1/31 was detached and 1/32 (Faith’s battalion) was attached. It was not "Task Force MacLean" as used by Roy Appleman, Clay Blair and others, nor "Task Force Faith," first used by Martin Blumenson in Russell Gugeler’s Combat Actions in Korea. Task forces are created by higher commands. A military organization does not "become" a task force nor is a task force later awarded honors. It is a paper tiger. After the attacks east and west of the Chosin, Col. Alan MacLean was wounded and captured by the Chinese, after which Lt. Col. Don Faith became RCT commander because both Lt. Col. William Reilly, commander of 3/31 Infantry, and Lt. Col. Embree, commander 57th Field Artillery Battalion, had been seriously wounded and, fortunately, evacuated. Lt. Col. Faith then became commander of the RCT units east of Chosin and led the final breakout on December 1, the day the third infantry battalion of RCT 31, 2/31, had arrived and was occupying defensive positions at Koto-ri with Col. Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller’s 1st Marines, too little too late. When Don Faith died leading an attack on Hill 1221 on December 1, 1950, he was doing it as the commander of the 31st Regimental Combat Team. The term Task Force Faith may have fit the scenario later when he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, but it did not exist during the action east of Chosin. Both MacLean and Faith were playing the role of infantrymen at the time they died. They died Pro Patria -- For Country -- as did more than one thousand soldiers whose remains to this day lie somewhere on the east side of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir.

Clemson, S.C.

Every month I look forward to my copy of ARMY Magazine. I was pleasantly surprised by Col. Gilberto Villahermosa’s article, "America’s Hispanics in America’s Wars" (September). His article brought me back to my days as a 2nd lieutenant with the 114th Evacuation Hospital and meeting a visitor to the unit, MSgt. Roy Benavidez. He related his experience in Vietnam and of saving the lives of his comrades. He told of receiving multiple wounds and of later being mistaken as an enemy soldier by medical personnel because of his ethnic features.

As a Hispanic of Mexican-American ethnicity, I am proud that every man in my family (father, uncles, brothers and nephews) has served this country in the Army and that my daughter served as a Navy Reserve officer/Merchant Marine. Col. Villahermosa’s article reminds us how important each American service member -- regardless of ethnicity -- is to the success of the mission.

Thank you for your magazine. It brings knowledge and increases our understanding of the multiple facets of our military environment.

San Antonio, Texas

There is a historical error in what was otherwise an excellent article by Lt. Col. Keith Landry, "The Siege at Chipyong-ni" (September). My compliments to the author on his research and presentation of the command presence, leadership and example set by then Col. Paul Freeman during the toughest of combat for the 23rd Regimental Combat Team in Korea, February 13-15,1951. As a young lieutenant, I was proud to have later served under Gen. Freeman, and he was every bit the leader Col. Landry has described in ARMY.

For the record, Col. Freeman did not become Chief of Staff, but did rise to the rank of general, serving successively in two of the Army’s top four-star command positions, commander in chief, U.S. Army Europe and NATO CENTAG from 1962-65 and commanding general (CG), Continental Army Command (CONARC), from 1965-67. He retired to Monterey, Calif., from CG, CONARC, in 1967, and passed away in 1988.

Alexandria, Va.