history of warfare, many battles have made manifest the fact that when forces
join on the field of battle, Field Artillery firepower is the element of combat
that makes a difference. Such was the case in late November and early December
1950 at the Chosin Reservoir, in the Republic of Korea.
conflict, characterized by misery, cold, exhaustion, and sacrifice, portrays an
epic 17-day struggle between primarily U.S. and Chinese Communist Forces. To
say the conditions were tough is an understatement. The bitter cold cut so
deeply that the men became numb and the equipment ceased operating. When the
opportunity arose to change boots, soldiers could see the ice crystals that had
formed between their toes; some died while advancing, merely from the shock of
the coldness. The fluid in the howitzers recoil systems became more like glue,
and at night, the only way to keep the men and the guns warm was to keep them
firing. That worked out well, as there was no shortage of targets.
military had sent 10 Divisions, 120,000 of its very best troops south that
November with orders to annihilate the US and its allies "to the last
man." These were not farmers or conscripts; most of the Chinese troops
were veterans of the victorious campaigns against Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist
forces. They came to Chosin looking for a fight, and that's just what they got.
at Chosin was ripe for heavy firepower, but the sea was 70 miles away, thus no
naval gunfire; and the weather was often unfit for flying, thus affecting air
support. Just as so many times before, consistent firepower was in the able
hands of the King of Battle - the Field Artillery. The Chinese Communist Forces
didn't count on the ferocity or the tenacity of American soldiers and marines,
nor did they anticipate the shocking blow they would be dealt by the Redlegs
sent to keep watch over them.
six to one, the Allied forces chose retrograde operations, and began the long
march through narrow, mountainous defiles south to Hagaru-Ri. Field Artillery
of every kind supported the U.S. forces: Army and Marine Corps, light and heavy
cannons; towed and self-Propelled howitzers; Active and Reserve Forces
destroying enemy targets with direct and indirect fires. Many redlegs
alternated between fighting as artillerymen or as infantry, whatever the battle
required, while leapfrogging their way back to relative safety.
mix of fire support came together to create effects so devastating to the enemy
that when it was over, the nearly impossible had happened: seven of the ten
Chinese Communist divisions were destroyed, and would never see combat again
during the Korean War. America sacrificed many lives during those 17 days in
the winter 1950, but in the end, what should statistically have been an
irrefutable annihilation of American troops, was a lesson in Field Artillery
and Firepower for our foes.
forces of freedom lived to tell the story of those 17 days: of the unbearable
cold, of the impossible odds, of the loss of comrades, and of the times when
the effects of Field Artillery made the impossible suddenly seem possible, the
hopeless seem attainable. These men, these heroes, will never forget the
extraordinary role that they and their "Chosin Fires" played in an
unforgettable chapter of our Field Artillery heritage.
PUBLISHERS PROOF SIGNED AND NUMBERED, WITH CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY.