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Arendt, Laurie (ed.) / Back from duty 2 : more stories from Ozaukee County's veterans

[Profiles],   pp. 11-148 ff.

Page 11

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

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