Wednesday, May 21, 2008

22 Dec 1950 -- Marines 'Could have killed 100,000 more'

by Joe Quinn Syracuse Herald Journal

With U.S. First Marine Division, Korea (UP)

The fighting Leathernecks who killed at least 15,000 Chinese Communists in the Chosin Reservoir area of North Korea said today they could have held all winter and slaughtered another 100,000 Reds if they had not been ordered back.

"We shot up six Chinese divisions and we could have been happy to blast another couple of armies to hell," said Sgt. Bill Gilman of San Francisco.

Maj. Gen. Oliver P. Smith, who led the First Division in its series of battles to Yudam and back, agreed. But he said he favored the strategic withdrawal to the east coast, "all factors in the situation considered."

"We destroyed every Chinese unit with which we came in contact," Smith said. "We went north when so directed, and we went east when ordered to do so.

"We battled the enemy everywhere we went. and we decisively defeated him in every engagement, his overwhelming superiority in numbers notwithstanding."

He said the fighting was just as intense withdrawing east as it was advancing north and west.

Col. Homer L. Litzenberg, of Washington, D.C., whose 7th Regiment led the way in all three direction, said the Marines got their first idea of what they were up against when they moved through Sangtong and headed for the Chosin Reservoir.

"We found the chinese (sic) in front of us and on both our flanks," he said. "A company came down the road four abreast. We hit the column with machine gun fire. For about five minutes they just cam right on, those in the rear walking over their fallen comrades.

"They broke ranks and scattered to ditches on each side of the road. There was a lot of yelling, apparently by their officers and NCO's. Within minutes they had regrouped into that column of fours and continued their march.

"We killed them all."

The marines could have fought back to Hagaru in the matter of hours. But they took all their wounded and every available piece of rolling stock, with the Chineses attacking day and night and took four days.

During this time they "destroyed an overwhelminly superior (enemy) force," Smith said.

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