Tuesday, September 06, 2011

First Paragraph

In the early hours of July 5, 1950, 403 bewildered, damp, disoriented Americans sat in their hastily dug foxholes on three Korean hills looking down upon the main road between Suwon and Osan. The men of 1/21st Infantry had been in the country just four days, since the big C-54 transports had flown them from Itasuki in Japan to the southern airfield at Pusan. Ever since they had been moving north in fits and starts - by train and truck, sleeping in sidings and schoolhouses, amid great throngs of refugees crowding roads and stations. Some men were sick from the local water. Lieutenant Fox was injured on the train, before they heard their first shot fired, by an inglorious stray cinder from the engine blowing into his eye. All of them were savaged by mosquitoes. They learned that Korea stank - literally - of the human manure with which the nation's farmers fertilized their rice paddies. They watched earnest roadside rendezvous between their own officers and the smattering of U.S. generals in the country. General William Dean, commanding the 24th Division, told the 1/21st commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charles "Brad" Smith, "I'm sorry - I just don't have much information to give you."

- From The Korean War by Max Hastings

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