November 1, 1950, Unsan, Korea
Written by Bobby P. Stringer
E Company, 8th Calvary Regiment, First Calvary Division
Solid tracers lit up
…. After we took Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, we moved north to the area of Unsan. We setup our mortars in a large dry ditch. Behind us was a cornfield of corn shocks. Beyond that there were a few Korean farmhouses. We checked it out, and they appeared friendly. They laughed, and made hand-signs with us trying to converse. One of them was acting like a ‘big sport’ and wanted to arm-wrestle. We left two steel helmets for them to fill with food, and we went back to our mortars. When the food was ready, they brought it to us. One was rice the other vegetable soup.
As we settled down that evening, the quartermaster issued our winter clothes. They were standard down sleeping bags and warm clothing. We didn’t get into them right away. It was around 9 PM and some of us were going to sleep and just hanging out. Then we heard a bugle horn. It came from the 12 o’clock position. Then, methodologically, deliberately, the second bugle blew counterclockwise to 11 o’clock, then in succession 10 o’clock, and so on…the sound from the bugles indexed around back to the 12 o’clock position. The bugles came from our outer perimeter, and it was freaking the heck out of us. We didn’t know what the hell was going on! Then, SLIENCE! Nothing. Not a word. Not a sound. It was eerie. It was unnerving. Then Zing! It was time for troopers to die. Solid tracers lit up the sky from the enemy! It appeared that we were caught in the middle of HELL. We never heard anything like this in our life. We didn’t get a command from our forward observer, so we thought he was killed. Troopers were getting shot in the stomach. Troopers were getting shot everywhere! I remember this 17-year-old boy that was shot in the stomach and cried for his mother, “Momma, Momma!”
We quickly used up our mortar rounds. We were not prepared since we thought we were going back to Japan. Then to our astonishment, the friendly people that sold food to us opened fire from behind. We were trapped! Lt Padoney said, “Every man for himself! Get the hell out of here!” We were being annihilated. Two of us ran for the ditch. The GI with me jumped too high, and hit the ditch dead! There was a Persian tank to the left, about 400 feet. I jumped to the back of the tank, but the bullets were dinging, bouncing and ricocheting off the metal and zinging around. I quickly left the tank. I don’t know why I didn’t get hit. The enemy rapidly fired their small weapons at the tank and I was in the middle of it! I had to scramble, and fast.
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