The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 13

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A US Marine tank follows a line of prisoners of war down a village street. September 26, 1950. (US Department of Defense/US Marine Corps/S. Sgt. John Babyak, Jr.)

Unsure of how to deal with these unusual American fighting men, the Chinese halted their attacks on the Marines. For the next six days the Chinese licked their wounds and tried to figure what in the hell was going on. By November 12th, General Song, the Chinese general on the ground, had figured out what he believed was the best way to attack the 7th and 5th regiments of the First Marine Division, and eliminate those pesky Marines, several elements of which had given him his thrashing six days previous.

Chinese communist troops, wearing tennis sneakers, rags and American footgear, surrender to Charley Company, 7th Marines, south of Koto-ri, on December 9th, 1950. (US Department of Defense/SGT. F.C. Kerr)

General Song, who presumably was following orders as well as wanting to cover his ass, sent Chairman Mao his plan to eliminate the two Marine regiments and asked for his advice, changes, and subsequent approval. Then he waited. Why should he put his neck on the chopping block by strongly recommending something when the mass murderer who led China would make the final decision?

[Source: Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950 by Martin Russ. Images courtesy of the Boston Big Picture and the Boston Big Picture.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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