Arendt, Laurie (ed.) / Back from duty 2 : more stories from Ozaukee County's veterans
[Profiles], pp. 11-148 ff.
Dave Albert Served with the Marines in Korea Mt. Horeb native Dave Albert had already served a full year of active duty as a Marine before joining a Marine Reserves unit in nearby Madison. That Reserve unit was activated with the escalation of hostilities in Korea and was called to active duty on August 28, 1950. We landed in Korea on the Marine Corps birthday - November 10. We were part of the 1st and 2nd replacement draft, 4,000 Marines on two troop ships. The First Marine Division landed at Inchon on September 15, 1950 and were to shore up the Division. I remember it dawned on me that we had lost quite a few men as they needed us so quickly. They sent us as individuals to our new assignments. When I'd originally served on active duty, I worked in personnel administration, so I think that was probably why I was assigned to a Signal Battalion. However, all I did was guard duty, and I didn't go to Korea to be a guard. I asked to be transferred. I wanted to see some action. I was sent up to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines as part of an ANGLICO unit, which was a joint unit that called in Navy gunfire. Though I was up north, I was still in a rear echelon and out of range. They were looking for volunteers to become wiremen, so I said, "Well, sign me up!" We were at the Chosin Reservoir and all of a sudden there were 100,000 Chinese attacking us. I became a rifleman instead of a wireman. We fought our way from Yudam-ni to Hagaru to Koto-ri, and then as a division, we fought our way to Hungnam. After that battle, our ANGLICO unit was reformed. I thought I would be on board a ship, but I wasn't. I was (above) Dave right after returning from the Chosin Reservoir. assigned to the 65th Regimental Combat Team, which (left) Dave says that serving as a Marine was a true privilege. was comprised of soldiers from Puerto Rico and Korean soldiers. The first night that we were with them we got into a good firefight, all I could hear were foreign voices and I thought for sure that I had been surrounded and captured. I spent the next 14 days calling in Naval gunfire from the USS Missouri and other ships in the harbor. There I was, a Private First Class, telling the USS Missouri what to do! The ship was stationed 20 miles out in the water and it was protecting evacuating troops. We were on the ground and when we'd call in the fire mission, we could see the sparks going off the shell as it passed through the air. It was a little while later when my feet started to bother me. I'd gotten frostbite at the Reservoir. I was in quite a bit of misery. I ended up being hospitalized for three weeks. When I was discharged, I ended up getting assigned to a different team, which was part of Chesty Puller's regiment. I ran into him in 1958 at a reunion and told him I'd served under him and wanted to buy him a drink. He said, "No, let me buy you one!" He started fumbling around - he had quite a shine on - and there were $20s and $50s falling out of his pockets onto the floor. There was a Lieutenant Colonel on his knees picking up all the bills that had fallen on the floor. I did end up volunteering to go serve with the British Royal Marine Commandoes for seven months. We were in Wonsan Harbor, which was their staging area. We supported them on their raids blowing bridges, railroad tunnels/tracks and mining roads and I called in the naval gunfire. Most of the time, what I did was really a matter of self defense. If I didn't knock out the mortars, I was in trouble myself. This was also the assignment that led to my being awarded the Purple Heart and decorated with two Navy Commendation medals with Combat "V"s. Though we served with the Royal Marines, we were still American Marines. We still had British rations: Steak and kidney pudding, mutton and rabbit. We also had a daily rum ration. When I served, the edict was that nobody had to spend more than one winter in Korea. After a bit of travelling back and forth from Japan to Korea to get my orders, I ended up in a casual company in California. I was assigned guard duty and I said, "I just got back from Korea; I'm not doing guard duty!" and I complained to the first sergeant, who just happened to be a gunnery sergeant I'd ran into in Korea. He said, "I never expected to see you again." He asked if I had a car and when I said yes, he ended up giving me leave plus 10 days travel time to get home. I spent more than 30 days at home before reporting to Camp Lejeune for my discharge. In looking back, I had a real adventurous year. BACK FROM DUTY: 2 11
Copyright 2005 Ozaukee County Council of American Legion Posts